Cole slaw can be a quick and easy way to get in a serving of vegetables while in a hurry, but when concocted with some creativity, it can achieve the status of a vegetarian delicacy. To be notable, there must be a tangy, sweet, crisp and crunchy balance of flavors and textures that pop in your mouth.The dressing is most appealing when it compliments the natural fresh vegetable flavors without overpowering them. Slaw may not be a dish that you are accustomed to seeing on a holiday table, yet by varying the ingredients, it can be a captivating starter for your special feast.
Koolsla (cabbage salade) came to the United States by way of the Netherlands. There were so many Dutch immigrants that settled in New York City that it was originally called New Amsterdam. ‘Kool’ eventually became Americanized to ‘cole,’ but it never meant cold. Kool is Dutch for cabbage. Originally mixed with mayonnaise, buttermilk, sugar or sour cream and other seasonings, it has taken a regular spot on the American table. This version, however, combines Asian and Mexican ingredients to create an even more complex bowl of dressed chopped veggies.
As I learned the hard way, cole slaw is best produced by hand chopping. A mandoline slicer can be used with care, but even pulsing the cabbage in the food processor can create tiny cabbage bits that resemble something you would buy with fried chicken. Grating cabbage turns it to mush. For superb texture, a sharp blade and some patience are all you need.
1 head green cabbage
1/2 head red cabbage
1/3 Napa cabbage (cut from the top)
1 Fuji or Honeycrisp apple
1 jicama root
1 carrot, julienned
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecan pieces or cashews
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 cup diced green onion (optional)
edamame for garnish (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tbsp. Tamari soy sauce (gluten-free)
1 tsp. Thai sweet chili sauce or other hot sauce (optional)
1-2 tbsp. peanut butter
1 tbsp. fresh minced ginger
1 tbsp. fresh minced garlic
1 tsp. sea salt (I use pink Himalayan)
1 tsp. celery seed
Note: For a lighter sauce, you may omit the peanut butter.
1. Whisk all ingredients used in the dressing together in a large bowl. Set aside.
2. Core the cabbages. Chop it in half, and then at the bottom where the core is, cut a large v-shape to remove the core. Do this with both halves of the green cabbage. You may leave the core in the part of the red cabbage you aren’t using.
3. Cut the green and red cabbage in thin strips. Place the strips in a large bowl, as you will each following ingredient.
4. Slice the peel off of the jicama using a knife. It is much easier to do than to attempt using a vegetable peeler.
5. Cut the jicama into matchsticks, or use a mandoline slicer (carefully) for the same effect.
6. Peel and core the apple. Cut the pieces into matchsticks using a knife.
7. Julienne the carrot using a knife or use a grater or mandoline slicer for similar results.
8. Starting at the top, leafy part of the Napa cabbage, cut in thin slices across the cabbage.
9. Add the cranberries, pecans or cashews, pomegranate seeds and combine all slaw ingredients by hand.
10. Pour the dressing over the slaw and combining by hand or gently with a wooden utensil. Dress no more than a half an hour before serving. The longer the slaw is dressed, the more likely it is to collect more liquid than desired and lose its crispness. Dressing it five minutes before serving is fine, maybe even ideal.
11. Enjoy this exotic fusion of fresh veggie flavors as a festive starter for your holiday meal.