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Grilled hispi cabbage with almonds

Sat, 1 June, 2024

Hispi cabbage wedges, flavoursome and sweetly charred, sprinkled with almond flakes, are the nicest side dish for fish or chicken. Delicious on its own too!

grilled hispi cabbage with almonds

A new name for the old cabbage

Cabbage currently known as hispi is a bit like Katie Perry: not very successful as Katheryn Hudson but under a new name – a sky rocket. Hispi cabbage, which is at the moment literally everywhere on restaurant menus, is nothing other than spring cabbage, sweetheart cabbage or pointed cabbage. All three sound significantly less sexy.

But it’s the same cabbage, deservedly now getting the recognition it has been due for ages.

Giving a new sexy name to good old cabbage confirms my suspicion that all it had ever done wrong was having an unappealing name: ‘cabbage’ does not sound very glamorous.

The word ‘cabbage’ derives from Norman French ‘caboche’ which means ‘head’. That in turn comes from the Latin ‘caput’, also meaning ‘head’.

hispi aka spring cabbage

Calling someone a cabbage head is then not only rude, but a tautology. It gets worse - a cabbage insultingly describes a neurodivergent person. It also used to be a slang expression for stealing.

So ‘hispi’ is simply a ploy to avoid the ‘c’ word on the printed menus. Because in truth it is spring cabbage, aka sweetheart cabbage, aka pointed cabbage. How pretentious! Up there with saying ‘pan-roasted’ instead of fried or ‘poached’ instead of boiled.

Semantics aside, pretentious or not, it’s a good thing happening to cabbage. Especially when it can be cooked like this: grilled or griddled in wedges.

charred hispi cabbage wedges

How to prepare hispi for grilling

We call it ‘grilling’ but it actually can be happily made in a large frying pan or griddle if you have one. I have not tried cooking it on the actual barbecue because I don’t trust it with vegetables. On the hob you have more control of charring, which is what it’s all about.

Preparation means trimming the outer, manky leaves but not the core which is needed to hold the wedges together. Then we cut the cabbage into quarters, lengthwise, and they never come out even however sharp your knife or good your knife skills. But that’s completely nothing to worry about.

Proper new season hispi from a market stall will be less compact and more straggly than a tidy head from a supermarket, which will make it messier to quarter, but hugely tastier.

Season the wedges generously with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil all over. Rub and massage the seasoning into the leaves, making sure it gets in between and into the layers.

quartered hispi cabbage

How to grill the hispi

Tongs are indispensable for turning the quarters in the pan.

Heat your griddle or frying pan until very hot: a good way is to drop a splash of water when you set the pan on and wait until the water has bubbled and evaporated (you can do the leidenfrost effect experiment while you’re at it!).

You could now toast the almond flakes in the pan until golden and fragrant then scrape them into a bowl, unless you prefer to toast them in a separate, small pan.

toasting almonds

Arrange the hispi quarters in the pan on one cut side, nestling them so the most surface is pressed to the hot pan. Cook for a couple of minutes, peeking underneath, until it’s charred.

Carefully turn them over to the other cut side – invariably you’ll lose some loose leaf bits but that’s fine. Repeat the same on this side, and finally turn them over on their back side.

grilling hispi cabbage

Maple syrup option

Do you like your cabbage soft and wilted and tender or with a crunchy bite?

If the latter, get it off the frying pan when it’s charred all over, drizzle with lemon, sprinkle with almonds and tuck in.

If it’s tender and juicy you’re after, keep it in the pan and drizzle with the maple syrup and lemon juice then cover with a lid or a baking tray if you don’t have a pan lid large enough. Keep it under for a couple of minutes, letting the cabbage to steam, soften and tenderise. Lift the quarters out with tongs when ready; it will be much soggier and juicier now so mind not to dribble the juices all over. Serve and enjoy.

spring cabbage grilled in quarters

Topping variations

Almond flakes are a very simple topping, but there is a myriad other options. Some like it hot: crispy chilli oil could be your choice.

Chopped up mixed herbs are another possibility, or toasted mixed seed topping. If you like dukkah, go ahead and sprinkle it on. Crispy crumbled bacon? What a good idea. Or nicely seasoned toasted breadcrumbs.

And on the side you can serve Greek yoghurt with a spoonful of hot sauce or harissa stirred in.

grilled sweetheart cabbage

More hispi cabbage recipes

Stir fried cabbage, easy and tasty. For the cabbage stir fry hispi cabbage is the best but you can stir fry savoy, Chinese leaf or white cabbage as well.

Hispi cabbage salad is easy and incredibly healthy, with herbs and a touch of garlic. A welcome change from lettuce or mixed greens, it's perfect for BBQ.

Kalpudding, Swedish brown cabbage meatloaf, served with boiled or mashed potatoes and a sweet and spicy preserve, is best homemade – and one more reason NOT to go to IKEA!

More vegetable side dish recipes

Creamed Swiss chard cooked over low heat has incredible depth of flavour and velvety texture. And it’s still marvellously nutritious! You can also swap chard for spinach, kale or beetroot leaves using this recipe.

Sesame roasted broccoli with a hint of sweetness from maple syrup, soused in olive and sesame oil, ready in 20 minutes. Broccoli like you’ve never tasted before!

Grilled asparagus with flaked almonds and Parmesan, an exquisite side dish or starter ready in 10 minutes. It can be cooked in oven grill or on a barbecue.

hispi with almond flakes

Grilled hispi cabbage with almonds

Servings: 4Time: 15 minutes


  • 1 head of hispi (spring) cabbage
  • salt and black pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
  • ½ lemon, to squeeze


1. Trim the outside leaves if very dark and blemished. Cut the cabbage lengthwise through the core into quarters. Season with salt and black pepper, drizzle generously with olive oil and rub it lightly in.

2. Get the largest nonstick or cast iron frying pan or a griddle on medium heat and first toast the almond flakes in it until fragrant and lightly coloured. Remove from the pan into a bowl and wipe the pan from almond dust. Turn up the heat.

3. Arrange the cabbage quarters in the pan on one cut side and cook for 2-3 minutes, until they start to char. Turn them over with tongs and char on the other cut side. Turn them onto the leaf side and cook for 2-3 minutes again.

4. If the cabbage is charred all over, wilted and fragrant, drizzle it with lemon and serve it straight away. If it still looks a little too raw and tough to you, drizzle it with maple syrup and lemon juice, cover the pan with a lid or a tray to let it steam and soften for a minute or two.

5. Transfer the quarters to a platter, sprinkle with almond flakes and drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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