Charred cabbage with a vanilla hazelnut miso dressing = easy and effortless summer food that just happens to be vegan.
When you char cabbage to a point where it’s almost blackened, something magical happens to it. The inside cooks to a tender, sweet and juicy softness while the outside gets an intense caramelized crust! This is no surprise to anyone who grew up eating cabbage casserole and cabbage rolls (me!), fighting over the crispy charred bits at the top (me me me!!!). Yet, it took me this far to start charring my cabbage on purpose.
Charred cabbage wedges
Charred cabbage wedges drenched in a nutty sauce is THE easiest way to turn a head of cabbage to a delicious meal. There’s minimal prepping and cooking involved here: just chop the cabbage into wedges and leave it on any hot surface you happen to be cooking with. BBQ, cast iron skillet, anything will do. And once your cabbage is sizzling away, you don’t need to fiddle with it! Just leave it alone until the surface is deeply browned, then flip. And if you think you accidentally burned it… even better. This is every daydream-prone chef’s dream!
Charred cabbage wedges are super delicious as is, but of course you can bathe them in some brown butter for an added level of deliciousness… or keep things vegan and drizzle over some intensely flavorful vanilla hazelnut miso dressing! This sauce is as effortless to make as is the charred cabbage. Simply open up a few jars and mix: dressing, done.
Here in Finland everyone practically moves outdoors during summer. Since the winter is so cold, long and dark, once the days are long and sun won’t set, everyone is spending as much time as possible outside. Never mind the mosquitoes nor the rain. Nor the possibility of snow, though global warming has made this option a considerably more rare situation – summer is grilling season! Whether one is lucky enough to own a cottage or is simply carrying a portable grill to the nearest plot of land, grilling is a summer activity loved by all.
I personally don’t own a grill. Nor do I have a summer house! ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ But I do make sure to make myself available whenever someone suggests a BBQ party. There is something special about grilled food, even when it’s just plain old veggies with a little sprinkle of salt! Every summer I spend some time at my dad’s childhood home. It’s an old farm in the middle of fields with not much else to do than cook, eat, repeat (and sauna!). That’s when I get to play with the grill as much as my heart desires! More often than not, it’s cabbage that’s cooking. I’ve tried whole roasting, beer can cabbage and cabbage steaks… But this year it’s going to be all about these charred cabbage wedges. Just look at them! They are a thing of beauty:
If you feel like grilling up some effortless summer food too, here’s what you need to have in your cupboards to make charred cabbage wedges with vanilla hazelnut miso dressing happen:
- coconut cream
- hazelnut butter (which you can sub for any nut butter of your preference)
- hazelnuts (or the nut of your preference)
- white miso
- vanilla (not vanilla sugar, not vanilla essence, but real vanilla, which is sold here in powder form under the Urtekram brand)
- soy sauce
- maple syrup
- your choice of mushrooms and fresh toppings, such as radishes and green onions
- edible flowers to make everything look festive and pretty! It’s summer; time to paaaaarty!
Charred cabbage with vanilla miso hazelnut dressing
- Grill / BBQ / cast iron skillet
- 1 head cabbage
- 1-2 tbsp oil (with a high smoking point)
- salt (to taste)
Vanilla miso hazelnut dressing:
- 1 tbsp white miso paste
- 1½ tbsp hazelnut butter (or your nut butter of choice)
- 4 tbsp coconut cream
- ½ tbsp maple syrup
- ¼ tsp real vanilla
- 100-150 g shiitake or button mushrooms (or cold smoked tofu)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce + oil + sprinkle of sugar/syrup
- 1 handful hazelnuts (dry roasted and peeled)
- 4-5 radishes
- 1 green onion
- salt flakes + freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)
- edible flowers (to taste)
- Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage if they are bruised/wilted. Cut the head of cabbage to 6-8 wedges (depending on the size and how many you are serving). Make sure each wedge stays intact with a piece of the core holding the leaves together.
- Rub the wedges with some oil. Grill/pan sear the wedges on medium heat to a deeply charred state, then flip. Don't fiddle around with the pieces too much, just leave them to cook, checking the pieces once you start to smell the charred cabbage.
- Check the doneness by inserting a sharp knife, a fork or a tooth pick to the thickest part - if it has no trouble entering the cabbage, it's going to be soft inside. If you are cooking the wedges on too high of a heat, the outsides might get burnt before the middle is cooked. In that case finish off the cooking on a cooler area of your grill ... and remember: cabbage can take the heat, even if it's blackened it's still going to be delicious!
Miso vanilla hazelnut dressing:
- While the cabbage gets nice and toasty, mix the miso vanilla hazelnut dressing! Simply measure the ingredients to a bowl and mix well. The dressing should be pretty intense in flavor, so that it can season a whole head of cabbage later on!
- The charred cabbage is wonderful with just the dressing, but if you want to make it into a complete meal, serve it with some fried mushrooms or cold smoked tofu! I like to season the mushrooms/tofu with a drizzle of soy sauce and something sweet.
- I like to balance the charred and deep flavors with something fresh, so I serve the wedges with slices of radish and lots of freshly chopped green onion. To finish off the dishes, I add a handful of hazelnuts, which I toast on a dry pan and then rub between a towel to remove the skins. You can use any nuts you see fit, personally I think the nuts need to match the nut butter in the sauce!
- Once it's time to eat, drizzle the dressing on to the wedges, and sprinkle on the mushrooms/tofu, radishes, green onions and nuts. To make your charred cabbage extra summery and festive, I like to finish the presentation with some edible flowers!