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Coleslaws and shredded salads

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Crisp, fresh coleslaws

It's time for barbecues, corn on the cob, watermelon and all the other flavors of summer. That includes coleslaw. Whether you like a creamy dressing or a vinaigrette for your shredded cabbage salad, coleslaw's texture and flavor holds up well with other intense flavors. Not to mention, it can be boldly colorful when made with more than just cabbage.

Crisp, fresh coleslaws

 

Contemporary coleslaws

In recent years, coleslaw has received a bit of a makeover. While the word itself is derived from the Dutch words for cabbage ("kool") and salad ("sla"), contemporary slaws include a wide range of ingredients. The primary requirement is that the ingredient be able to hold its crunch and texture, and that it be presented in long thin strips (julienne) or shredded. Additionally, dressings have a wider variety of flavors than ever before. Mayonnaise-based dressings are most common in the United States, but vinegar-based dressings are popular abroad.

Getting the shred

One of the keys to a great slaw is consistent texture in ingredients. A mandoline is great for shredding a head of cabbage or other ingredients into evenly sized strips. Most mandolines allow you to adjust the thickness of the cut, which is extremely helpful for getting just the right texture. Some mandolines have attachments that allow you to julienne as well -- but you can just as easily cut julienne strips from the cross-section slices a mandoline produces.

Mandolines take some practice, as well as a lot of focus. The blades are very sharp and can really hurt you if you are not careful.

The quickest way to coleslaw

Serves 4 to 6

Coleslaw is extremely easy to make. While it can be dressed up and altered, the easiest and simplest coleslaw comes together in a flash.

Ingredients:
1 head cabbage, shredded
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonaise
Squeeze of lemon
Salt and pepper

Directions:
Place the shredded cabbage and julienned carrots in a bowl (it can even be the serving bowl). Stir in the yogurt, mayonaise and lemon, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, cover and refrigerate overnight. Give it another quick stir and serve.

Build your own slaw

You can turn ordinary coleslaw into your very own specialty with some creativity and experimentation. Start with fresh, flavorful and mostly crisp ingredients in any combination that strikes your fancy.

Suggested ingredients:

  • Cabbage, red or green (of course!), or Napa cabbage
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Broccoli stems and florets
  • Snow peas
  • Fennel
  • Jicama
  • Peppers
  • Apples (Granny Smiths are great)
  • Zucchini
  • Scallions
  • Endive
  • Ramen noodles (yes, really), crumbled
  • Slivered almonds
  • Onion
  • Mango (slightly underripe)
  • Papaya (slightly underripe)
  • Pineapple

Next, create a basic dressing. Yogurt and mayonaise are nice, especially with a squeeze of lemon, but there are many addional combinations. In fact, many dressings for traditional lettuce salads work quite well with coleslaw.

Basic Creamy Dressing

Ingredients:
Equal parts plain yogurt and mayonaise
Fresh lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Whisk together all ingredients and toss with your slaw.

Basic Vinegar Dressing

Ingredients:
1 part cider vinegar
3 parts vegetable oil
1/2 part sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Whisk together all ingredients and toss with your slaw.

Flavor boosters

Finally, add some flavor to your slaw with spices. Some good flavors and spices include:

  • Celery seed
  • Cumin
  • Jalapeno peppers, diced fine
  • Mustard
  • Red onion, finely chopped
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Ginger
  • Horseradish or wasabi
  • Poppy seeds
  • Lime juice
  • Lemon juice
  • Soy sauce
  • Garlic

Once you've put your slaw together, let it sit covered in the refrigerator for about 8 hours before serving so the flavors can really meld. Enjoy!

More slaw recipes

Fruit and Nut Coleslaw
Basic Coleslaw
Picnic Coleslaw

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