My family loves cabbage salads, even the picky eaters. We make it often and pair it with barbecued chicken, burgers or just because that is the only vegetable in the fridge. But we serve it for company as well. It’s terrific with roast turkey and duck. Cabbage keeps so well in the fridge that it’s good to keep on hand for last minute salads and sautés. Fresh cabbage salads can be endlessly varied, are wonderfully crunchy, and can be made well ahead. This version of coleslaw is inspired by one we had first at the San Francisco restaurant, Regalito. The dressing is only lightly flavored with anchovy. Feel free, depending on how you feel about anchovies, to increase or decrease the number of fillets you use. I’ve included a dressing with a sweet/tart profile as a variation. To me it has a more traditional, “American” flavor without being too sweet or mayonnaise-y.
Serves 4 to 6
- Ingredients for dressing
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 or 3 anchovy fillets packed in oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise
- About 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (preferably Meyer lemon juice)
- About 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Ingredients for salad
- About 1 1/2 pounds green cabbage, shredded
- 1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 large carrot, shredded (optional)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh herb such as basil, chives, oregano, nepetella, mint, marjoram, etc or a combination
- To make the dressing: Whirl the garlic, anchovies, and a pinch of salt in a food processor until very finely chopped. Add the mustard, Worcestershire (if using), mayonnaise, and lemon juice and blend again. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running to make an emulsion. Grind in some pepper. Be careful of salt as the cabbage will have salt in it and the anchovies are also salty. Taste and adjust the balance to your palate with more lemon, salt, pepper, olive oil. Set aside until needed. The dressing can be made up to several days in advance and refrigerated in a clean jar.
- To make the salad: Heap the shredded cabbage in a serving bowl and add a good pinch of salt, about a teaspoon. Toss well and let sit until the cabbage begins to wilt a bit, about 15 minutes. Drain if the cabbage has released a bunch of water. Add the radishes, carrot (if using), onion, parsley, and other herbs. Toss well. Pour the dressing over, toss well again, and taste for seasoning. Adjust with salt, pepper, and perhaps fresh lemon.
If you don’t have a mandoline and/or don’t think you can slice the cabbage as thin as you’d like it, you can use the shredding blade of a food processor or purchase a bag of shredded cabbage. A real convenience. A mandoline makes quick work of the radishes and onion as well.
Cabbage, once it comes in contact with salt, either through salting or the salt in the dressing, begins to wilt and release water. This can dilute your dressing. There are several ways to manage: drain the cabbage before tossing with the dressing. A good way would be to twist it gently in a kitchen towel. Or make your dressing more strongly flavored to compensate. Or do not salt the cabbage first and toss it with the dressing only just before serving.
A mini food processor is just the thing for the dressing.
Honey dressing: Warm 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons honey in a microwave until just warm and fluid. Whisk it in a bowl with a pinch each salt and pepper, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, 1/2 teaspoon poppy seed (optional), 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, and about 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Toss the dressing with the shredded cabbage as above. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, celery seed, and perhaps a squeeze of lemon.
By using rice vinegar and perhaps garlic and ginger you can give the salad an Asian inflection.
If you like spice and heat, please do add a minced fresh jalapeno and/or chili flakes.
Top with grilled fish or chicken to make the salad into a full meal.