Infinitely variable coleslaw

As I try to shop and eat seasonally I don't buy lettuce over the winter but sometimes you just want something raw and salad-y. If I want something to go with a jacket potato with cheese and baked beans (I am British. We eat tinned baked beans) or sausages, or a barbecue or quiche, I make coleslaw.

 It's never quite the same twice, but the baseline is raw cabbage, carrot and onion with a mayonnaise based dressing. If possible it has apple in. The cabbage may be white, red or green (I use red if I can as according to James Wong in his book 'How to Eat Better', it contains ten times the vitamin A and double the iron and antioxidants of white. Always choose the darker colour vegetable). I got a mandolin from the White Elephant stall at the church fete which I use on the thinnest slicing setting.
I start with sliced onion which I marinade in cider or wine vinegar for a bit to soften it. I do it in the bowl I'm going to put the salad in because I like tangy coleslaw but do it in a bowl and drain the onion first if you prefer, saving the vinegar for adding to a salad dressing or casserole.
Onions marinating in red wine vinegar

Slice the cabbage and add it to the bowl.

 I then add whatever is around. Try sliced radishes, peppers, spring onions, celery, celeriac, beetroot, kohlrabi, courgette, cucumbers- pretty much any other vegetable you can eat raw. Steph Hafferty uses raw parsnip but I haven't tried that yet. I wouldn't add tomatoes because they seem the wrong texture but if you'd like to there's no reason why not. This one has sliced peppers and radish (the only way I can get certain family members to eat it) and a bendy apple along with some carrot. The apple and carrot are shredded on the mandoline.

The dressing varies according to the vegetable or what it's accompanying. This one is roughly 50/50 live natural yoghurt and homemade mayonnaise with some wholegrain mustard and a drizzle of honey. Maple syrup is really good instead of the honey- you don't need much but it does make a difference. The yoghurt lightens the dressing a bit and fermented food is good.

If the slaw has a lot of celeriac I add some Dijon mustard and lots of wholegrain mustard to the mayo to make a kind of Remoulade, or if it has lots of swede (rutabaga) or beetroot I like a creamy, preferably sour cream dressing, replacing all of the yoghurt and some or all of the mayo. If it's a Thai or Asian-type meal I might add chopped peanuts and go for a lime vinaigrette dressing instead of mayonnaise, maybe with ginger and garlic. Approximately four parts oil to one or two parts vinegar and/or citrus juice according to taste. Whisk together with seasoning, a crushed garlic clove and grated ginger to taste or shake it all together in a jam jar.
I love it because it's endlessly versatile. Add seeds or nuts (you could go quite Waldorf salad with celery, apple and walnuts with cabbage for instance) or add fresh herbs. I often add chopped parsley or chives (or perennial onion, sometimes instead of the sliced onion). Coriander would be good in the Asian inspired slaw, or a South American one, maybe with pineapple, mint and chilli. I think I'd go for a vinaigrette dressing for that one.
Sprinkle with edible flowers if you fancy it- purple chive blossom, blue borage flowers, yellow calendula or red nasturtium all look good.
It travels well and is perfect if you get asked to contribute a salad. If you make the yoghurt and mayonnaise you can make it entirely plastic-free and certainly much nicer than those little plastic tubs from the supermarket or pizza take away.


  1. A great base recipe. I've recently gotten into the habit of adjusting the spices for further coleslaw variations too. Such a versatile salad.

    1. Spices are about the only thing I've never tried adding. What do you use?
      I've just been reading your blog- it's really interesting and you've prompted me to make pasta again. I haven't done it for years but I have some defrosted frozen spinach that needs using up.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts