When cooking cauliflower, it's best to steam the vegetable. Boiling it can cause the florets to overcook, rendering them smelly, mushy and (in some cases) inedible. By contrast, steamed cauliflower is bright, sweet and slightly crisp. You can steam cauliflower even if you don't have a stove-top steamer basket. Steaming cauliflower florets in a covered bowl in the microwave is a quick, easy way to get the same results as using a stove-top steamer.
Flip the cauliflower over so that the fat base is pointing toward the ceiling.
Peel the leaves away from the sides of the head and cut around the top of the stalk with a sharp knife to remove it.
Separate the florets from the head of cauliflower. Slide the knife between each floret stem and the core of the cauliflower to slice the individual stalks from the head. Drop the florets into a colander and rinse them under cool water to rid them of dirt and bugs.
Dump the cauliflower florets into a large, microwave-safe bowl and add about 1/4 cup of water.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.
Microwave the cauliflower florets on high for three minutes. Remove the bowl from the microwave and let it stand covered for two minutes. This allows the steam to finish cooking the cauliflower without boiling the water.
Carefully peel the plastic wrap from the bowl. The cauliflower should be fork-tender and fragrant. Serve immediately.