Since it’s the first day of 2015, it was only fitting this coleslaw got things rolling. Why? Well, for many people, cabbage is synonymous with detoxification and weight balance. It supposedly cleanses the liver. Trying to not be overly presumptious, but there is usually a lot of cleansing, fasting, and overall weight management stuff going on in January.
I adore most salads and I find it sad when salad is overlooked as just an unsexy side dish. Salads can be creative and balanced, healthy and tasty. Pretty much a fulfilling meal. I’m not a vegetarian, but I eat a lot of vegetables. (Yes, I am one of those weirdos that craves them daily).
Aside: Is there anything better than a plate full of delicious vegetables? Before I sing the praises of cabbage and carrots, I guess I should preface that I don’t like overdressed salad of any kind, especially ones that are all gloopy and overly rich. I find most mayo based types gross. Don’t get me wrong, I love mayonnaise. But like with fries (it’s so Parisian) or on a delicious BLT sandwich. I have even been known to make my own mayonnaise. Yum, especially a turmeric infused aioli.
So when it comes to coleslaw, I am more focused on a low ratio of mayo to vinegar based dressing. This dressing meets the two variations of coleslaw – creamy mayo based or vinegar based and merges them to create something utterly delicious.
Luscious buttermilk or Greek yogurt is thickened with mayonnaise and flavoured with cider vinegar and tons of cumin. Tangy and surprisingly fresh. This recipe actually makes a light and healthy coleslaw, one that you can eat by the bowlful, without any guilt. (Can you tell I do this often?)
While I went on a tangent about overly mayo-ed dressings, I need to be clear this dressing should also not be overtly lip-puckering vinegary. To achieve the perfect tang, a bit of mayo is mixed with buttermilk or lovely Greek yogurt and some healthy sloshes of vinegar. But really, this dressing is about tinkering. It must be tasted as you go. (I always love writing that, because we all usually forget, unless reminded). You can always add more mayonnaise, vinegar, or seasonings, but you can’t remove them once they’ve joined the cabbage and carrots.
Cabbage is rich in vitamin C and a whole bunch of other nutrients, which makes it a perfect winter food, helping to keep the immune system strong.
Light green cabbages are favoured at the Lehail house, probably because of their superior crunch. Bits of red cabbage make an appearance on occasion. Usually though, it’s green on its own. I’ve never tried savoy cabbage in coleslaw, so that may be interesting. Really though, use what you have on hand. A head of cabbage (green, red, or savoy) goes a long way. So do a bag of carrots. For example, a quarter head of green cabbage and two large carrots makes a huge container of coleslaw which lasts a few days.
Now when it comes to shredding the cabbage, I only do this by hand. If you have read this blog before, you will know I like using my food processor for grating and shredding. However, in this case, the size of the cabbage pieces should be quite small. I have found using my food processor creates these huge chunks that are difficult to eat. I have seen recipes that call for grating cabbage. Grating is not my idea of fun. Plus, I find grating creates a watery cabbage mush that has tinges of a metallic taste.
So how pretty is this? It’s just grated carrot, chopped cabbage and minced onion, (maybe some chopped, fresh cilantro if you have it on hand) in an otherwise simple coleslaw. Using a bit red cabbage would add a bit more colour for visual appeal, but it’s not necessary. Sometimes, I even add a few Munchable Masala Peanuts on top to add extra crunch. My point is that salad, rather, this coleslaw, does not have to be complicated.
This coleslaw can be made a few hours ahead of time. It will improve in flavour as the hours pass. If you’re thinking of making some roasted or fried chicken, pulled pork, or whatever winter eats spark your fancy, I’d happily show up with this salad.
This coleslaw perks up the taste buds. It is something with snap and crunch. Something fresh and green that makes you feel virtuous and light and happy to be alive.
I must admit I like this simple cabbage salad a lot – the light dressing, the crunchy carrot and cabbage, the lively colours – all of it. It rates high on my list of things to eat. Oh and Happy New Year!
Winter Confusion with Cumin Coleslaw
5 cups thinly chopped or shredded green cabbage
1 cup shredded carrots (1 to 2 medium sized carrots)
½ onion, minced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
4 tablespoons good quality mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk or Greek yogurt
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
Combine all of the ingredients until mixed thoroughly. Adjust seasoning, if desired. Chill until ready to serve. This can be made about two hours in advance.