I don't know if it's because I haven't visited my hometown for several years, or if it's something about the summer, but lately I've gotten a real yen for a good, old New York-style coleslaw. New Yorkers love coleslaw, especially the New York deli slaw which aficionados insist must be bought today specifically at a Greek delicatessen. That's the one with the mayonnaise dressing that has white vinegar and sugar. But considering that cabbage, after the potato, is the most popular vegetable in the world, there are many kinds of cabbage salad recipes to choose from. A great source of vitamin C and cancer-fighting nutrients, cabbage is not only healthy and delicious, it's also cheap. All good reasons to expand your cabbage salad repertoire. The first thing you need is a firm, young cabbage with compact leaves. If it is dry-looking and the outer leaves are damaged, it's probably been in storage for a while and has lost a lot of moisture and flavor. Experiment with Chinese cabbage and red cabbages if you like. Slice in the food processor with the slicing blade or remove the tough outer leaves from the cabbage and cut it in half lengthwise. Cut each half in half lengthwise, cut out the cores and put each, round side up, on a cutting board, then shred. For some reason, shredded cabbage tastes much better than chopped cabbage. Cabbage takes well to almost any dressing, but mayonnaise dressings should be used only when dining at home, since they can spoil quickly if you take them on picnics. Here are a few slightly different ways to look at the humble cabbage. SPICY COLESLAW A very healthy combination of root vegetables and cabbage with a zippy dressing that requires barely any salt.
750 gr. green cabbage (half a large one), cored and shredded
1 small-medium turnip, peeled and shredded
3â„4 cup chopped red onion
5-6 small radishes, chopped or thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
1 bunch parsley, stems removed and chopped
1â„2 bunch fresh dill, stems removed and chopped (optional)
4 Tbsp. cider vinegar
6 Tbsp. mayonnaise
Hot red pepper flakes, salt (optional) to taste
Mix all the vegetables and herbs together in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk vinegar into the mayonnaise and add hot red pepper to taste. Mix well and add to the salad.
Serve immediately (it will be crunchy), or store, covered, in the refrigerator (it will be wilted and hotter the next day).
WILTED CABBAGE WITH MUSTARD SEED
Makes 4 servings
1 small head cabbage
1 heaping Tbsp. coarse or kosher salt
1â„3 cup finely sliced scallions
1â„4 cup regular or extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 Tbsp. wine vinegar or lemon juice
3â„4 tsp. black mustard seeds or caraway seeds
Cut cabbage in half and remove core. Using a chef's knife, shred cabbage as thinly as possible, or shred thinly in a food processor. You should have about 4 to 41â„2 cups.
Place the cabbage in a colander and mix in the salt with your fingers. Let stand till wilted (about 20 minutes). Squeeze cabbage to expel liquid. Rinse briefly and squeeze again. Place in a bowl and mix with scallions, oil and vinegar.
In a dry frying pan, lightly toast mustard or caraway seeds until they pop. Stir into cabbage salad and serve.
CHINESE CABBAGE SALAD
1 Chinese cabbage
1â„2 cup packed fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves
2 tsp. minced or pressed garlic
2 to 3 Tbsp. lemon juice to taste
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
3 Tbsp. dark (toasted) sesame oil
1 to 2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. regular or golden sugar
Core cabbage and cut it crosswise into thin shreds. Trim the scallions and finely shred the white roots. Mix in a large serving bowl with the cilantro leaves.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve immediately.