Behold the coleslaw! The truth is that most people do not. The mostly-ignored garnish, found in restaurants and often tossed out with the trash, is often ignored or set aside. Who thinks about coleslaw? It’s just there.
Still, coleslaw is some people’s favorite at summer barbecues. Most restaurants sell it, and many kosher delis put out a bowl of it beside the pickles for hungry diners to snack on before their food arrives.
Coleslaw comes in all forms, from plain green cabbage to more complex flavored mixtures. The recipe goes all the way back to ancient times, when folks ate cabbage sliced, pickled or fermented. The ancient version was more like sauerkraut, but with added veggies and raw eggs mixed in.
The world of shredded cabbage changed with the creation of mayonnaise, sometime in the 18th century. Dutch Americans in New Amsterdam created a dish of mayonnaise and cabbage called “koolsla,” which means “cabbage salad.” Some Americans translated that into “cold slaw,” which is sometimes seen on restaurant menus even today.
Mayonnaise truly changed the history of coleslaw. In went the mayo; out went the raw eggs. The mayonnaise added oils, vinegars and other spices to the mix. Different ethnicities created their own versions. Jewish delis added sugar or honey and carrots. Russians liked apples and raisins, and the Swedish liked vinegar and oil. German immigrants used vinegar, oil, onions, and apples. Other cultures added meats, and some added sour cream and sugar. Some recipes added buttermilk or sour cream and many added lots more veggies, herbs and spices. Over the centuries, the dish has changed little.
You can make up your own coleslaw recipe using any kinds of veggies you have on hand. Some supermarkets and health food stores offer ready-to-use packages of broccoli or kale slaw, Brussels sprouts, or more. You can use mayo or just vinegars and herbs with some oil.
Cabbage is very healthful and high in fiber. If you dress it sparingly, you can make a delicious dish with very few calories and still enjoy the side dish we never think about. Coleslaw deserves more consideration.
Tri-colored Cole Slaw (Pareve)
For fewer people, use about half of each ingredient.
1 small head purple cabbage
1 small head green cabbage
3 pounds carrots, peeled
2 cups mayonnaise, regular, low or non-fat
1 cup vinegar (more if you like)
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar (more to taste)
1/2 to 1 tsp. paprika
OPTIONAL: 2 to 3 Tbsp. caraway seeds
Remove the outermost leaves of the cabbages and discard. Cut the cabbages into quarters and remove the cores. Cut the cabbages into pieces to fit your processor feed tube.
Shred the cabbage and carrots using the medium shredding disc. Place in a large bowl and toss to mix. Whisk the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, sugar and paprika together, and pour over the shredded cabbage and carrots. Add the caraway seeds, if using, and toss. Mix well, cover and refrigerate. Serves a crowd.
Nutty Cole Slaw with Tropical
and Citrus Fruits (Pareve)
3 cups shredded green cabbage
3 cups shredded purple cabbage
3 cups shredded carrots
1 red onion, diced
1 cup slivered almonds
1 to 2 cups walnuts, chopped coarsely
2 small cans mandarin orange segments, drained
1 can pineapple chunks, drained, each piece cut in half
1 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar, to taste
2 tsp. to 1 Tbsp. grated onion
3/8 cup apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup raspberry vinegar
2 Tbsp. fresh orange juice
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 to 3/4 cup canola oil
Shred the cabbage and carrots using the medium shredding disc of the food processor. Place in a large bowl and mix well. Dice the onion and add to the cabbage mix.
Mix the dry ingredients of the dressing together in a Tupperware-like container. Mix well. Add the vinegars and juices and cover and shake until the sugar is dissolved. Add the oil, cover and shake to emulsify.
Add the nuts to the cabbages and toss. Add as much dressing as desired and toss well. Save any dressing for a kid-favorite salad dressing. Chill. Add the fruit just before serving and mix well. Serves a crowd.
Brussels Sprouts Honey Mustard Slaw (Pareve)
1 lb Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced (you can buy pre-sliced)
2 cups shredded purple cabbage
1/2 to 1 cup slivered almonds or chopped walnuts or hazelnuts, toasted or sunflower seeds
1/2 to 1 cup tart dried cherries or dried cranberries,
OPTIONAL: 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese or crumbled goat cheese
1/4 to 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 to 2 Tbsp. honey, agave or pure maple syrup
1 to 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard, to taste (start with one and adjust)
1 to 2 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic press
1/4 tsp. kosher or sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the nuts on a foil lined baking sheet and toast for 2 to 4 minutes until barely fragrant and lightly golden. They will continue to toast a bit after removing from the oven. Let cool.
If shredding the sprouts yourself, trim the edges and rinse well. Place on paper towels to dry. Slice them in a food processor, using a 1 or 2 mm slicing disc. Change to a medium shredding disc and shred the purple cabbage. Place the sprouts and cabbage in a large bowl and toss to mix.
Add the dried berries and dressing to the bowl and toss to mix. If using, sprinkle with the shredded cheese just before serving. Serves a crowd.
Apple Jicama Slaw with Two Dressings
(Dairy or Pareve)
1/2 small head green cabbage
1/2 small head purple cabbage
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded
2 tart green apples, Granny Smith, cored and thinly sliced
2 sweet red apples, Fuji-type, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, leaves only
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
OPTIONAL: 1/2 to 1 cup slivered almonds
Use a medium shredding disc of a food processor and shred the cabbages and carrots. Place in a large bowl and toss to mix. Peel and cut the jicama into thin slices, then into matchsticks. Add the parsley and scallions. Toss to mix.
Core all the apples and thinly slice. Cut slices into matchsticks. Add to the bowl and toss. Add the slivered almonds, if using.
Make the preferred dressing and add to the bowl. Toss to coat. Serves a small crowd.
Asian Style Sweet and Spicy Dressing (Pareve)
6 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
6 Tbsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. tamari sauce
3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1-1/2 to 2 tbsp. grated fresh garlic
1/2 cup very thinly sliced scallions
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (preferable all natural unsweetened)
Place all ingredients in a small container with a tight lid. Shake well to emulsify.
Makes about 1 cup.
Green Goddess Dressing and Dip (dairy)
Adjust for taste by varying the herbs.
1/2 small yellow onion
1 to 2 small cloves garlic
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped, stems removed, to taste, minced, to taste
1/4 cup fresh tarragon, thyme or basil leaves
1/4 cup minced chives
2-3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture reaches the desired consistency. Taste and adjust any herbs or seasonings you like.
Makes about 2 cups dip or salad dressing.