Friday, October 2, 2009

Cole slaw is twice as nice when prepared like this

By Helen Klein

Homemade cole slaw is just so much better than anything you can buy in a store.

Prepared with fresh cabbage that you slice yourself, and studded with sweet and savory vegetables -- this version uses carrot and red onion, but I could easily have included red or orange pepper in it, as well -- the dish as made in a home kitchen transcends the insipid stuff doled out in pint containers at the deli counter.

I make it regularly during the summer and fall, when farm cabbage -- which is incredibly sweet -- is readily available.

The amount of mayonnaise is a matter of individual tastes. My husband likes it really creamy, so I use a good deal, but I also make a version, usually simultaneously, that uses no mayonnaise at all, which my daughter and I prefer, though, visually, the mayonnaise-based cole slaw is a treat, as the finely grated carrot lends a rosy color to the dressing.

Varying the recipe in that way is really simple. I cut up all the vegetables, mix them together, then divide them equally into two bowls. Into one, I add the mayonnaise dressing. Into the other, I put a diluted and sweetened vinegar marinade. It’s better to make the cole slaw somewhat in advance, so that the flavors have a chance to blend. That’s particularly important with the version that uses no mayo, which takes some time to absorb the marinade.

Cole Slaw Two Ways


¼ head white cabbage
½ pound baby carrots
½ small red onion
Chopped Italian parsley, for garnish

For mayo-based cole slaw made with half the recipe:
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbl. olive oil
Pinch of celery seed
1-2 tsp. sugar (to taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

For mayo-less cole slaw made with half the recipe:
1 Tbl. olive oil
2 Tbl. sugar
2½ Tbl. white wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


Cut the wedge of cabbage into lengthwise sections about 1/3” thick. Then, cut each section horizontally into narrow strips. Put cut cabbage into a bowl.Grate the carrot (this can be done in a food processor) and finely chop the onion. Blend with the cabbage.

Divide the vegetables into two bowls if you are making both recipes. Otherwise, keep them in a single bowl and double the dressing ingredients for the version you select.

In a small bowl or mixing cup, combine the mayonnaise, 1 tsp. white wine vinegar, 2 Tbl. olive oil, pinch of celery seed, 1-2 tsp. sugar and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Blend with half the vegetable mixture. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

In another small bowl or mixing cup, combine 1 Tbl. olive oil, 2 Tbl. sugar, 2½ Tbl. white wine vinegar, and salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Blend with vegetables and taste, adjusting seasonings as desired. If it is too sharp for your palate, you can add a little water, a teaspoon at a time, or a little more olive oil and sugar. Go slowly while adjusting flavorings; it’s easier to add a little more than to compensate for having added too much.

Let the cole slaw rest, refrigerated, for at least half an hour for the mayonnaise-based version, and ideally overnight for the version without mayonnaise.

Before serving, taste the chilled cole slaw and adjust seasonings, as necessary.

Then, transfer the cole slaw to serving dishes. Garnish both versions with freshly chopped parsley and serve.

Serves 4-8 as a side dish.


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