Health Goth: How to Do Vegetarian BBQ Sides Properly
Chargrilled hispi cabbage smothered in cheese and hot sauce breadcrumbs is a good place to start.
Welcome to Health Goth, our column dedicated to cooking vegetables in ways that even our most cheeseburger-loving, juice-bar-loathing readers would approve of. Not everyone realises this, but vegetables actually do taste good. We invite chefs to our test kitchen to prove this assertion—and they do, time and time again.
This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in June 2017.
While no British barbecue would be complete without three-for-a-tenner beef burgers, carcinogenic sausages stuffed into claggy bread rolls, and well-done (burnt) chicken drumsticks, grilling isn't just for carnivores.
Just ask Brunswick House chef director Andrew Clarke, a self-confessed meat man with a deep-seated love of vegetables (he has "kohlrabi" tattooed across his knuckles). Forget vegetable skewers or those Linda McCartney burgers that seem to disintegrate upon touching even slightly heated surfaces, Clarke showed us how veggie options should be done with his recipe for chargrilled cabbage. Chargrilled cabbage that is smothered in cheese and hot sauce breadcrumbs, no less.
"Vegetables can be more exciting to use on the barbecue because they have a greater textual range," Clarke explains. "The flavour profile and texture of meat will always be pretty similar after it's been on the grill but vegetables can be sweet or sour, bitter, and umami. There's a lot more to play with."
The cabbage in for a grilling today is hispi—the sweeter, pointy sibling to the crinkly-leaved, winter savoy.
First, Clarke makes the hot sauce breadcrumbs by soaking stale bread in Tabasco. After the bread has been dried out overnight or in a low temperature oven for an hour or two, it's blitzed in a blender.
With the Tabasco breadcrumbs waiting in the wings, Clarke starts prepping the star of the show. He slices the hispi cabbage in half, lengthways, before blanching it in boiling water and then refreshing it in ice water.
Once cooled, the cabbage halves are doused in a little oil and grilled on the barbecue, flat-side down. Clarke leaves them to char for four or five minutes and then flips the hispi over for a few more minutes.
Finally, he grates over Pecorino (a veggie Parmesan will work just as well) and douses the hispi in a shower of crunchy Tabasco breadcrumbs.
Eating—and grilling—your greens never looked so tasty.