All in the (Cabbage) Family: Slaws!

This is a “betwixt and between” time of year for produce… summer fruit just beginning to appear, winter fruit coming to a seasonal close. Members of the cabbage and cruciferous family can fill the gap with color and crunch. It is a perfect time to include slaws on the menu.

“Cole” in Shakespeare’s time meant “cabbage.” Just as the language has changed, so has the way to make slaws (which is thought to mean “salad” in ancient Central European languages).

Several years ago, a frozen food manufacturer got tired of throwing out all the broccoli stalks left over from freezing the more popular broccoli florets. The stalks were peeled and shredded and, voila, broccoli slaw was born! Many school districts are opting for broccoli slaw over the traditional cabbage slaw, as it stays crunchy for a longer time, is easy to keep on your fork, and is higher in some nutrients than green cabbage.

Shredded broccoli slaw kits are available in the produce section of many grocery stores. The ready to use kits include shredded broccoli, shredded carrots, and some dressing. You can make your own broccoli slaw by peeling broccoli stalks with a potato peeler and shredding them with a hand grater or in a food processor.

If broccoli slaw is too much work, use other types of cabbage and greens to be used singly or in combinations. This can include shredded red cabbage, Napa cabbage, Savoy cabbage, kale, and Swiss chard. Many of these leafy veggies are available shredded and ready to use in the produce section. Preshredded veggies usually have a seven day shelf-life if kept refrigerated.

You can prepare a tofu-based mayonnaise by combining silken or soft tofu in a blender or food processor with a small amount of prepared mustard, white pepper, and white vinegar. Unflavored soy-, oat-, or almond milk yogurt can be mixed with a small amount of prepared mustard and white pepper to be used instead of commercial vegan mayonnaise. The texture is similar to mayonnaise and the flavor gives a pleasant “tang” to slaws.

Slaws don’t have to have a creamy dressing. Slaw ingredients can be tossed with vinegar and oil dressings. Mix apple cider vinegar with a small amount of vegetable oil, chopped parsley, and diced onions and toss with slaw ingredients to make a “slippery” slaw. The same can be done with vinegar, oil, a small amount of orange juice concentrate, chopped oranges or grapefruit, and cracker black pepper. Make a pineapple slaw dressing with vinegar, oil, mashed canned pineapple tidbits, and a small amount of apple juice concentrate.

Slaws were not meant to be just a bowl of greens. Think about adding diced fresh or canned peaches, apricots or pears, dried raisins, cranberries or dates, fresh apples or grapes, minced walnuts, pecans or pistachios, or chopped bell peppers, seeded chilies, celery, onions or leeks, cauliflower, black-eyed peas or green peas.

No matter which ingredients you select for your slaws, you will be adding fiber to your day. Cabbage and its relatives add a bit of calcium and natural antioxidants. Carrots add beta carotene. Pineapple, red bell pepper, berries, and lemon juice add some Vitamin C. You get the idea. Use your slaw as a veritable bowl of health.

Red, Orange and Green Slaw with Citrus Dressing

Serves 7-8 ( have a party!)

1 cup commercial or home-made vegan mayonnaise

1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed, undiluted

2 teaspoons vegan sugar

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

8 cups shredded cabbage (use a combination of cabbages for variety)

2 cups peeled, grated carrots

1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and finely sliced

In a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, orange juice, sugar, and pepper and whisk until well mixed. Add cabbage, carrots, and green pepper; toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.


Written by Chef Nancy Berkoff, EdD, RD

Originally written for the Vegetarian Resource Group

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