It took working at a three- Michelin-starred restaurant for chef Jason Vincent to get over his prejudice against microwave ovens. But after seeing them used at Arzak, in Spain, he became a convert.
Now, he puts them to work at Giant, his inventive Chicago restaurant, where they do everything from soften butter to bake cakes. Most intriguing, however, is his use of the microwave to dry leftover fresh herbs, preserving them before they have a chance to go bad.
Vincent says it’s best to microwave the herbs uncovered on high in bursts of 5 to 10 seconds, usually for a total of 1 to 2 minutes, gently tossing them between each burst. Just be wary of overdoing it, though; the smell of burnt herbs can linger.
In our testing, we put well-dried fresh herbs on a paper towel-lined plate and followed Vincent’s directions. The method worked best for dill, thyme and rosemary. Mint and basil dried well and tasted fine but lost a lot of color. We advise against microwaving parsley and cilantro; they burned easily and lost too much flavor.