...without even using a stove.
Make this colorful meal with a microwave oven and a counter-top electric grill. Impress and flatter the vegetarian in your life, with a hearty grilled mushroom, alongside steamed asparagus and saffron rice. Or substitute a chicken breast, for a more conventional meal.
These instructions are suitable for those who don't cook at all, but would like to make a nice meal for someone. This meal would be good for a first at-home date. It is not gourmet food, but it will impress a new girlfriend, especially if you make the mushroom option for a vegetarian. This meal will NOT impress corporate executives, foreign dignitaries, or your mother in-law.
As a vegetarian for health reasons, I have often found that non-vegetarians are confused and befuddled when it comes to cooking without meat. This recipe works great with giant mushrooms or with regular old chicken, and anybody can cook it, even if you've never cooked anything before in your life
Note: Most of the people I know who call themselves vegetarians will eat eggs and dairy products, but some won't. Vegan usually refers to a more strict diet, where the person will not eat anything even remotely animal-related, which means no milk, no cheese, no whey, no eggs, sometimes even no honey. Also, many vegetarians and vegans will not eat vegetables prepared in a pan that was used to cook meat.
Before you cook for someone who says they are a vegetarian or a vegan, make sure of that individual person's rules. Don't be embarrassed to ask. They will be flattered that you took the time to ask, and if you successfully cook for them, they will definitely be impressed at your effort. Trust me, you don't want to work hard on a meal and find out that the person you made it for can't eat it.
Step 1: Get Ready
Clean your kitchen, empty out your sink, and make sure that all of the bowls and knives and spoons you will need are clean and ready.
Large microwave safe bowl (2 liter)
Medium microwave safe bowl (1.5 liter)
Large microwave safe plate (or lid for the large bowl)
Medium microwave safe plate (or lid for the medium bowl)
Large mixing bowl (2 liter)
Measuring cup(s) for liquids
One large resealable bag (gallon)
Make sure you have all of the ingredients:
One fresh red bell pepper
One package of saffron rice (brand doesn't matter)
2 tbsp (tablespoons) Margarine
One bunch of fresh asparagus
Two skinless chicken breasts
OR Two giant mushrooms
Â½ cup of plain bread crumbs
3 tbsp (tablespoon) of parmesan cheese
1 tsp (teaspoon) of poultry seasoning
Â½ tsp (teaspoon) of paprika
One can of pineapple chunks
One can of mandarin oranges
Fresh seedless red grapes
Choosing peppers: Get the darkest red pepper you can find. You want a firm pepper with a fresh looking stem. Don't get it if it has any soft spots or mold. Check the end of the pepper because often that's the first part that gets moldy.
Choosing asparagus: If you have a choice, pick the slenderest stalks, because they will be more tender. Don't buy moldy or rubbery asparagus. It should be firm and clean, and the buds at the tip should not look like flowers; they should be closed up tight.
Choosing mushrooms: Make sure to get smooth mushrooms, they should not be wrinkly on the top, nor should they look dried out. If you can, you should look at the underside of the mushrooms. Keep in mind that fresher mushrooms have lighter colored fins on the bottom. Compare several, and you will probably see a difference. Stale mushrooms will have a dusky black underside, and the fins will be damaged and crumbly. Stay away from slimy or moldy mushrooms.
Choosing grapes: Pick firm grapes, without mold. Green, flexible stems are better than dried out, brown ones. The end of the grape where it joins the vine should not be slimy or discolored.
If you're using frozen chicken breast, put it in the refrigerator the night before you're going to cook it, so it can defrost completely. (Don't ever defrost chicken outside of the fridge, because it can go bad very quickly, and you won't know it until you're sick from it. That's not the kind of impressive meal you want to be remembered for.)