“Can you use half-a-head of cabbage?” a friend asked. She had made soup with the other half, was watching her caloric intake, and didn’t want to make a mayo-based salad with the rest. Penny took her up on the offer, turned it into a tangy, low-calorie slaw made with lots of carrots, scallions, celery, mustard seed, and lightly dressed with a vinaigrette. She returned a container of this to our friend to use as a side dish or a healthy topping for sandwiches. It was a hit!
Slaw or Coleslaw?
According to the site WiseGeek, “The word ‘coleslaw’ most likely came from the Dutch word koolsalade, which means ‘cabbage salad.’ However, in Dutch, koolsalada is often shortened to koolsla.”
Today’s slaw may be a cabbage salad, but it may also star broccoli, kohlrabi, kale, or other gems from the produce stand. Dressing can be creamy, spicy, sweet & sour, or low-cal.
Here, Penny was julienning some white turnip to add to a slaw of cabbage, carrots, and scallion
And, the resulting salad can be a side dish, snack, or sandwich condiment. It is another one of those wonderful dishes that is even better after the flavors have time to meld and the vegetables wilt a bit, so make it ahead and enjoy having a big bowl of healthy food on hand.
There are entire cookbooks of recipes for these shredded salads. This means you can fit one into menus beyond cookout and BBQ.
Traditional Chinese-American restaurants in New England used to serve a sweet and sour slaw as a side dish. So round out your Asian menus with a version that includes soy sauce and ginger in the dressing. And what is Kimchi but fermented slaw?
If Tex-Mex is on the menu, make cilantro the herb of choice and add some chilis to the mix. Use it to top a taco or alongside a quesadilla.
Shopping for Slaw
Your choice of ingredients can add color and zip. Red cabbage, radishes, rainbow carrots, beets, and peppers create a bowl of colorful confetti slaw on a buffet table.
This is a great place to use vegetables that show up in CSA boxes such as: celeriac, kohlrabi, bok choi, fennel, garlic scapes, radicchio, sprouts, sunchokes, turnips.
You can also add fruit. Apples are a common ingredient, but you can use oranges in both the salad or the dressing. Slightly under ripe pears can be a fun addition to a slaw to serve with pork. Dried cranberries, currants, or raisins can brighten a winter slaw. A few recipes call for grapes, so ground cherries would also work, as would julienned quince.
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Words: Penny & Ed Cherubino
Photography: © 2017 Penny & Ed Cherubino
(Adapted for BostonZest from one of her Fresh & Local newspaper columns.)