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I feel like today’s post might tip us over into the kind of territory where I need to add a ‘one-pan steam oven dinners’ page to this site’s index, given how many are in the archives now! After all, if I have a few chicken thighs, a lonely piece of pork or some fish fillets, on most days of the week I’m not inclined to do much more than throw them into a pan with a few vegetables and call it dinner.
I know you all like a good combi steam sheet pan dinner about as much as I do, though, and today’s is a beauty. With salty-delicious haloumi cheese and brightly coloured vegetables with a bit of chilli, lemon and herbs for bite, this dinner ticks so many boxes. It’s also vegetarian, gluten free and low carb. And if you don’t subscribe to any of those diets you won’t notice it’s free from anything at all, except maybe effort.
Haloumi cheese in a steam oven
If you’re a haloumi cheese fan*, browning it in a combi steam oven is a great alternative to pan frying, and one I didn’t think about trying for ages. I noticed a recipe somewhere in a magazine a few months ago, in which haloumi had been oven roasted and served atop a salad. It looked gorgeous but when I tried it myself, the cheese was quite dry on the outside and not that nice to eat (maybe I just overcooked it?).
Enter the steam oven. I figured if the oven roasted haloumi was nicely brown but a bit dry, combi steam should fix that problem perfectly. That brought me to silky, slightly oozy cheese with just enough golden brown on the edges to give it texture and a toasty flavour. It’s as easy to cook it using combi steam as it is to pan fry, but the results yield far less splattery mess. Plus it’s an ideal protein to turn into a simple one-pan meal if you want to go meat-free, as we do a few nights a week.
*Honestly, if you’re not a fan of haloumi, it’s probably just because you haven’t been introduced to its salty, savoury, milky flavour and amazing versatility. I mean, cheese you can fry. I see nothing bad about that at all.
My standard Mediterranean steam oven vegetable medley
I love a good combi steam roasted vegetable, and have a few standard assortments that I like to cook together. My root vegie mix is something we have about once a week (with or without accompanying meat), but this Mediterranean themed version runs a close second. The kids are not big fans – one hates all vegetable matter and the other prefers his vegetables crunchy – but because this recipe is a perfect two-person meal, we often cook it on nights when they’ve eaten and gone to be before we’re ready to have dinner. Be flexible with your assortment of vegetables, as almost anything goes here. Pumpkin would be great, as would broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant/aubergine, fennel or kale. Whatever you use, just make sure it’s cut into the right sized pieces to cook in around 15 minutes, like the haloumi. Little vine tomatoes would be fantastic too; they’ll only need five or seven minutes towards the end of cooking, just enough for the skins to burst.
Happy steam oven cooking, see you here again soon.
Recipe: Steam Oven Mediterranean Vegetable and Haloumi Bake
This recipe is easily doubled. If you do this I’d recommend splitting it across two pans, so the food doesn’t get too crowded. Overcrowded vegetables = soggy dinner.
A quick note on haloumi cheese. If you’re not a regular haloumi buyer, heed my voice of experience and don’t get the cheaper, uniformly square packages you can find in most supermarkets (at least in Australia - I’m assuming it’s the same elsewhere around the world). For a little more money, grab the good stuff, which will be a bit bumpy and uneven looking in the pack. The best varieties are made with a mix of cow’s and sheep’s milk, or straight sheep’s.
As I mentioned above, you can mix up the vegetables you use here to include a similar total quantity of whatever you like, as long as they’ll cook in roughly 15 minutes. That means root vegies should be cut a little smaller, while something like broccoli or cauliflower can be left in large bite-sized florets.
Finally, if you’re using the zucchini as specified below, it will get quite soft. If you’d prefer it firmer, add it once the rest of the food has been in the oven for five minutes.
250g (8.8oz) haloumi cheese, diced into approximately 16 pieces
1 large red capsicum (pepper), cut into 2.5cm (1in) dice
1 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into wedges
300g (10.5oz) Swiss brown (Cremini) mushrooms, halved
4 cloves garlic, bruised with the side of a knife
3 tbs olive oil
1 red chilli, sliced, or ½ tsp chili flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1. Preheat oven to 220°C/430°F on combination steam setting. If your oven has variable steam settings, select 50% humidity.
2. Pile all ingredients except the lemon into a solid baking pan or cast iron casserole and toss gently to combine. Spread out evenly so everything is in a single layer. Halve the lemon and squeeze the juice of one half over the food in the pan. Reserve the rest for serving.
3. Cook until the haloumi is sizzling and golden around the edges, and the vegetables are tender, approximately 15 minutes. Serve immediately (I use warmed bowls because this is a dish which cools down pretty fast), with the extra lemon squeezed over the top at the table.
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And if you’re after more delicious combi steam one-pan recipes, the Easy Meals Index page has plenty. Try the Chorizo, Pumpkin and Chicken bake, the Pork Tenderloin with Courgettes, Peppers and Green Olive Salsa, or the recent Almond Crumbed Fish with Sweet Potato Chips (which is not quite one pan, but pretty close).