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This post is part 5 in a series of Christmas themed steam oven recipes and ideas. We’ve dealt so far with easy little steam oven appetisers; roasting a turkey in the steam oven; steamed Christmas pudding and gorgeous combi steam fruit mince pies. Next week I’m going to bring you the easiest and best combi steam roast duck recipe (because if, like me, you don’t really get into turkey that much, I think a steam oven duck is going to be much more your thing). But today I want to talk about vegetable side dishes, in particular my current favourite which can be served hot, cold or anywhere in between and will shake up all your Christmas meals in a very very good way: Combi Steamed Cauliflower Salad with Pomegranate, Dates and Yoghurt Dressing.
I find it incredibly hard to go past the idea of oven roasted cauliflower in just about any form and have been known to just put a whole tray of florets into the steam oven, cook them until they’re all blistery-frazzled at the edges and consume that as a stand-alone dinner (why the steam oven instead of a regular oven? The outsides of each floret get crispy and golden, while the flesh retains an incredible steamed quality and sweetness you won’t get using solely dry heat). It’s not the most guest-worthy of dishes, though, and perhaps you prefer something a bit more interesting. Here you go.
Sweet/savoury/umami roasted cauliflower gets a Middle-Eastern inspired treatment in this recipe, with sumac, cumin and coriander, a handful of chopped dates and mixed seeds and a light, bright yoghurt dressing spiked with orange. Pomegranate seeds are rained over the dressed florets and add a sweet/tart note and the most festive jewel-like finish (though dried cranberries soaked in a little orange juice would do just fine in the absence of pomegranate).
If you’re a traditionalist, cauliflower probably means boiled or steamed until (way too) soft, covered in white sauce and baked into Cauliflower Cheese. Which is all fine and good, and excellent cooked in the steam oven, by the way. But as I’ve mentioned before, I like to leave as much rich-food space as possible for the sweet treats which end a Christmas meal, so I prefer my vegetable dishes on the lighter side and generally without a heaping quantity of cheese and cream. This fits the bill and is good enough to easily rival the meat-based stars of the show, or to be a substantial component of a vegetarian main meal. I love it and hope you do too.
See you here again soon for more Christmas steam oven recipes (the aforementioned roast duck next week, then I’ve got one more incredibly easy side dish and another sweet to share if I get time before the 25th).
Combi Steamed Cauliflower Salad with Pomegranate, Dates and Yoghurt-Orange Dressing
Serves 6-8 as part of a meal.
This seems like a ridiculously long ingredient list – it’s not a 3-ingredient wonder, but it’s also nowhere near as bad as it seems in terms of preparation. The garlic and spices are just tossed with the florets before cooking, and you can put the rest of it together while the cauliflower cooks.
If you haven’t roasted cauliflower before, you might be tempted to pull it from the oven before it’s completely done – what you actually want here is soft, yielding flesh and lots of very dark edge bits on your florets. Those dark edges take on the most savoury flavour which is the perfect counterbalance to the sweet flesh.
I’ve called for pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds here – if you don’t have all three on hand as I usually do, you could do without one or the other of the sesame and sunflower but I wouldn’t omit the pumpkin seeds as they add a nice crunch and colour.
You can serve this hot, warm or at room temperature. Barely warm is my preference but I’ll take it any way it comes.
1 medium cauliflower, broken into florets
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
3 tsp sumac (this can be hard to get in some places, I know. There’s not really a substitute for its sour fruitiness but a squeeze of lemon juice over the roasted cauliflower – NOT before you cook it – is the closest you’ll get)
½ tsp salt
60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
3 tbs pumpkin seeds
1 tbs sunflower seeds
1 tbs sesame seeds
125ml (1/2 cup) natural or Greek-style yoghurt
Juice of 1 large orange
60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil, extra
100g (about ½ cup) pitted dates, chopped
The seeds from 1 medium pomegranate (this Jamie Oliver video will show you how I get mine out of the fruit without wanting to scream)
Set your oven to 230⁰C/450⁰F on combination steam setting (if your oven has variable steam settings, use 50-60%).
Put the cauliflower florets into a large, solid stainless steel tray. Mix the garlic, spices, salt and oil in a small dish, then pour this over the cauliflower and toss to combine. Put the tray in the oven and roast until very dark golden brown, about 20 minutes.
While the cauliflower cooks, toast the seeds in a dry frypan over medium heat until they’re nutty and starting to pop. Remove from heat, tip immediately into a small bowl to stop them cooking and set aside.
Mix the yoghurt, orange juice and extra oil in another small bowl, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
When the cauliflower is cooked, transfer it to a large platter or shallow serving bowl and sprinkle with the dates. Drizzle the yoghurt dressing over the top, then sprinkle the toasted seeds and pomegranate seeds over the top just before serving.
But I don’t have a steam/combi-steam oven! Roast your cauliflower in a regular fan-forced or convection oven at 220⁰C. It will be a little more leathery and a little less sweet but no-one will know unless you tell them what they’re missing out on.
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If you’re wanting quick links to the other Christmas steam oven recipes I’ve done this year, you can find the combi steam cherry tomato tarts here; fruit mince pies here; roast turkey round-up here; and steam oven Christmas pudding here.