Coleslaw, Back on the Table


Coleslaw is a side for all seasons.


It’s the traditional accompaniment for backyard summer barbeques, sitting pretty beside burgers, ribs and potato salad. Come winter, when cabbages are plentiful and summer vegetables a distant memory, coleslaw becomes the perfect in-season salad.


I am a fairly recent fan of coleslaw. I usually always asked for salad, not slaw, as a side.


In my opinion, the customary ice cream scoopfuls of creamy cabbage and carrots have given coleslaw a bad name. Coleslaw is so much more than a mayonnaise salad. Its roots are not even based in a creamy tradition; koolsla or koolsalade, the Dutch term for cabbage salad from which sprung the modern day coleslaw, was prepared well before mayonnaise was invented in the 18th century. Early Dutch settlers along the Hudson River introduced the dish to North America and, well, the rest is history.


Coleslaw recipes are unique, with a variety of regional versions. Modern-day dressings range from ketchup and vinegar for barbeque slaw in North Carolina to Montreal’s simple, but oh-so-popular, oil and vinegar. You can add your own flare with smoked paprika, chipotle mayo, blue cheese dressing or cumin and mustard seeds. And of course, there’s the standby dressing found in many North American delis of mayonnaise and buttermilk, with a hint of vinegar.


Two factors have supported my growing preference for slaw; its regular appearance on my kitchen table (my husband is a big fan) and its reinvention in local restaurants. I guess the more cabbage you eat, the more you like it.


Thanks to our local food box, we always have cabbage in the house. Green, purple or savoy, cabbage is the perfect base for any slaw. Add a dash of apple cider vinegar, vegetable oil, a touch of sugar and I’m in coleslaw heaven.


Credit the rise of in-season fare or southern cooking, but local restaurants are embracing slaw and serving it in abundance. Some, like Victoria’s Red Fish, Blue Fish, add a dash of sesame oil and seeds to their cabbage, while others, like Pig BBQ Joint, serve up a creamy version to go along with their fried chicken and ribs. Simply conduct a coleslaw survey of your local establishments and you’ll quickly see the range of flavours the modest cabbage salad can offer.


A winter side of slaw doesn’t quite transport me to a summer backyard drenched in sunshine, but it does put a smile on my face. And, I always ask for a second serving.


— By: Kelsey Singbeil


Classic coleslaw

8 cups (2 L) shredded cabbage

1-1/4 tsp (6 mL) salt

3 cups (750 mL) grated carrots

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/3 cup (75 mL) white vinegar

2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil

4 tsp (18 mL) granulated sugar

1 tsp (5 mL) dry mustard

1/2 tsp (2 mL) celery seeds

1/4 cup (60 mL) chopped fresh parsley



In large bowl, toss cabbage with 1 tsp (5 mL) of the salt. In separate bowl, toss together carrots, onion and remaining salt. Let both stand for 1 hour.
In colander, drain cabbage. By handfuls, squeeze out excess moisture and return cabbage to bowl. Add undrained carrots and onion; toss to combine. Whisk together vinegar, oil, sugar, mustard and celery seeds; toss with cabbage mixture and parsley. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate for up to 3 days.)

Source : Canadian Living Magazine: June 2009



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