Slaws expand the definition of salad (2024)

News/Life/Food

By KATIE WORKMAN, Associated Press

Published: July 6, 2022, 6:03am

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Slaws expand the definition of salad (1)

Enter: Slaws.

Or coleslaws — what’s the difference? Really nothing. Technically, coleslaw involves cabbage, whether green, red or napa, while the category of slaws can include all kinds of chopped or shredded crunchy vegetables. The two words are used interchangeably for the most part however.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary says “coleslaw” comes from the Dutch “koolsla,” which combines “kool” (cabbage) and “sla” (salad). At its simplest, classic American coleslaw is a mixture of chopped or grated cabbage with mayonnaise, vinegar, and maybe a bit of sugar, plus salt and pepper, of course.

In the South and other barbecue-heavy parts of the country, coleslaw is often served with slow-cooked meats, either on the side or perhaps piled onto a pulled pork or smoked brisket sandwich. Slaw is also popular on hot dogs in some parts of the U.S., such as West Virginia.

It can be found on or alongside various sandwiches in other regions, like the New York deli-style Reuben made with corned beef (with slaw instead of sauerkraut), or pastrami sandwiches or hamburgers. Fried chicken is another dish frequently served with slaw.

Not all slaws are made with mayo. In North Carolina, for instance, slaw is usually quite vinegary, and not at all creamy. It’s a must-have accompaniment to the region’s pulled pork.

Many of us think of slaws primarily in the summer, when we are grilling outdoors or hosting a barbecue for friends. And that’s a shame, because since slaws are made from cabbage and other hardy vegetables, especially root vegetables, they are perfect for the cold-weather cooking months.

Slaws don’t get soggy as quickly as leaf lettuce salads, so they can stay in the fridge for a day or two, sometimes longer. They make use of seasonal produce, and offer a nice change of pace from cooked vegetables on the plate.

They can be colorful and highly nutritious, and recipes are usually quite flexible. Once you get the basic shredding or chopping technique down and find a simple slaw dressing that you like, you can keep changing things up and adapting until baby lettuces and asparagus appear in the markets again.

So, other than cabbage, what vegetables can be used to make slaws? Carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, beets, zucchini, summer squash, cucumber, bell peppers and winter squashes are some candidates. Even the harder vegetables can be used raw: The key is to shred them finely and peel off any tough skin. Remove any seeds from vegetables like squashes, cucumber or peppers.

To shred cabbage for slaw, you have a few choices. To do it by hand, first remove any dinged-up outer leaves and then quarter the cabbage. Cut the core out of each quarter. Place each chunk of cabbage on a cutting board and, using a large, sharp knife, thinly slice the cabbage crosswise to create thin shreds.

You can also use a mandoline or the slicing or shredding attachment of a food processor. I like the slicing blade better than the grating blade for cabbage, as the grating blade creates tiny bits which don’t have as much appealing texture. But you can definitely use a handheld box grater or the shredding blade for hardier vegetables, like beets or carrots.

Other popular add-ins for slaws include raisins or other dried fruits, nuts, apples, grapes, celery, bacon, onions or scallions, sugar snap peas, corn and fresh herbs.

Here’s a good, super-basic, creamy slaw dressing:

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream (or additional mayonnaise)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ cup minced scallions or green onions, or red onion
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Blend all of the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add about 6 cups of shredded cabbage or other vegetables. You can also add a couple of tablespoons of minced, seeded jalapeno peppers or a squirt of hot sauce if you want to amp up the heat level.

Asian slaws are also popular, usually made with a dressing that includes oil and vinegar blended with ingredients like soy sauce, sesame oil, scallions, ginger and cilantro. In Southeast Asian cuisine, shredded vegetable salads might include green papaya and fish sauce.

There are Tex-Mex versions (think chipotles in adobo, cumin, chili powder, lime juice, cilantro), and western North Carolina boasts a Red Slaw version, with ketchup instead of mayonnaise. In Russia, cranberries often make an appearance in slaw.

So, let’s brighten up those dinner plates with some new slaw recipes like Vegan Asian Napa Cabbage Slaw; Spicy Coleslaw; Brussels Sprouts, Apple, and Pomegranate Slaw Salad; Creamy Brussels Sprouts Slaw; Kohlrabi, Green Cabbage and Broccoli Rabe Slaw, and Creamy Blue Cheese and Bacon Coleslaw.

Slaws expand the definition of salad (2024)
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