This whole cauliflower is rubbed with spices and roasted in the combi steam oven, making the insides steamy and soft and the outside burnished and full of Moorish-inspired flavour. Served with hommus, toasted almonds and tangy dried apricots, it’s a showstopper of a meat free dinner.
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Last week I cooked three cauliflowers using combi steam.
Now, that’s a lot of cauliflower for one girl to eat, so you might be relieved on my behalf to know I only ate one - the other two were cooked as demonstration dishes for appliance-buying clients.
Why am I telling you about this veritable week-long cauliflower festival, you ask? Well, I wanted to share a delicious combi steam recipe for any cauli-loving readers, but I also want to highlight something about combi steam cooking. This might seem really obvious but I don’t talk about it often enough here: the fact that every combi steam oven cooks differently.
A story of three combi steamed cauliflowers
Each of my three beautiful white brassicas were treated in much the same way, rubbed with spices and olive oil and roasted in their entirety. The difference was in the ovens and humidity levels.
The first cauliflower was cooked for about 55 minutes in a plumbed Gaggenau combi steam oven at 200°C (392°F), with 60% humidity. It came out slightly frazzled at the edges, which I love. The interior flesh was creamy, yielding but not too mushy and really, it was just about perfect all around. But I’m not great at just stopping something after one attempt at perfection. So the second go was identical but using 80% humidity and a slightly shorter cooking time (maybe 40 minutes, though I forgot to set a timer). It was good but the flesh seemed a bit over-steamed and too soft for my liking.
My third and final attempt (for now – there are only so many cauliflowers you can look at in the space of a few days!) was done in my Neff combi steam oven. Although the newer Neff models have variable steam selection in the form of low/medium/high steam options, my previous model doesn’t. I just select the combination steam function and temperature, and the oven dictates the humidity level based on oven temp. So I cooked at 200°C, just as for the Gaggenau versions, and set my timer for 45 minutes.
Was the Neff cauliflower vastly different to the Gaggenau ones? No, not hugely, but there were some variations. Firstly, the exterior spice rub was a little more crust-like coming out of the Neff oven. It didn’t make much difference to the taste but some patches browned a bit unevenly. Now, I generally assume when I’m cooking in the Neff oven that 200°C operates at roughly 60% humidity, but have never been able to find out for certain. I’ve had to base that assumption on using other variable-steam appliances and cooking the same things at the same temperature. I’m happy to report I still think that’s about right, based on this totally uncontrolled experiment. The flesh of the Neff cauliflower was similar to the 60% humidity Gaggenau version, although I think it was about a similar level of doneness after 45 minutes rather than the 55 I gave the Gaggenau one.
In essence, all my experiments were very good and for anyone who’s a little spooked by the seemingly limitless variations in oven settings, humidity levels and steam types, don’t be. While you might find there are slight differences in food cooking times, moisture and final texture between different brands of combi steam oven, those differences are minimal, and only really noticeable if you were to blind taste identical dishes cooked in different ovens.
The moral of today’s story? If you see a recipe you like and it’s written for a different brand of combi steam oven than your own, try it anyway. Or, you know, you could just make my recipes, which are written for any and all combi steam brands, and frequently tested across various models! 😉
I'll be back next week, hopefully with a new, great everyday bread recipe. Looking forward to sharing it with you all.
Happy steam oven cooking, see you here again soon.
Recipe: Moorish Combi Steam Roasted Cauliflower
Serves 4 as a light dinner – you could make it more substantial by adding some flatbreads.
This seems like a huge list of ingredients. It is in number, but most of them are ground spices so the preparation for this dish is fairly quick. You can mix up the rub, coat the cauliflower and set it aside for up to a couple of hours before cooking if you want to prepare ahead.
I like to serve this with hommus (a bought tub makes life easy), though natural yoghurt or babaghanoush (aubergine dip) are also delicious accompaniments.
1 whole cauliflower, tough outer leaves trimmed off
2 tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced
Zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus zest of 1 extra lemon for serving
200g (7oz) tub plain hommus
50g (1/4 cup) toasted flaked almonds
45g (1/4 cup) dried apricots, sliced
A big handful of fresh mint leaves
1. Set your oven to 200°C/400°F, combination steam setting. If your oven has variable humidity, use 60%.
2. Mix the oil, salt, pepper, spices, garlic and lemon zest and juice in a small bowl. Rub this mixture all over the cauliflower, ensuring you cover it well. Put the cauliflower into a roasting pan and cook until it’s well browned on the outside and soft in the middle, about 45 minutes.
3. To serve, spread the hommus over a platter. Top with the cooked cauliflower and scatter with almonds, apricots, mint leaves and the extra lemon zest. Serve hot or warm in wedges.
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And if you’re after more delicious combi steam vegetable recipes, the Vegetarian Index page has plenty. Try the Cauliflower Salad with Dates and Yoghurt Dressing if you just can't get enough roasted cauliflower in your life. Or perhaps you could do with some Carrot Hummus after being inspired by today's hummus inclusion.