I grew up eating coleslaw prepared this way. It’s refreshing and teams beautifully with rich food. If I’m serving slow roasted pork belly, coleslaw is always on the menu to cut through all that decadent lusciousness.
I walked past trendy La Marcelleria in Bondi Beach the other day, and there on a chalkboard outside the store was a message proclaiming: “Coleslaw is back!” I didn’t know it had gone anywhere, it’s always been on the menu at our house.
Here is some interesting trivia for you. Coleslaw is a medieval food with roots in imperial Rome. Apicius, the famous Roman cookbook author, describes a dish of shredded cabbage dressed with eggs, vinegar, and spices. So its obviously been around for a very long time. I know this because my son completed an assignment on Roman Food last year, and insisted on recreating a Roman feast. But that is another story. It’s name comes from the Dutch koolsla, which simply means cabbage salad, and as everyone knows cabbage is the staple ingredient of every coleslaw.
I have always preferred a vinaigrette based coleslaw over mayonnaise. Don’t get me wrong I adore mayonnaise but personally don’t think it belongs in coleslaw. Particularly when I am already serving it with pork belly. Way too much calorie overload for one meal.
When all is said and done, a coleslaw salad is versatile and very easy to prepare. Using cabbage as your base ingredient, just add any crisp, crunchy, seasonal vegetable. Shred the vegetables on a mandoline, or even easier, use the julienne slicer in your food processor. Dress with vinaigrette, let sit for a couple of hours, then finish with soft herbs. I’ve provided my version, but feel free to play around with it and own it. Even add mayonnaise if you want. I’m sure it will soon become a staple in your repertoire, as it is mine.
Coleslaw with a Simple Vinaigrette Dressing
1/2 head small white cabbage, shredded
1/2 head small red cabbage shredded
2 carrots, julienned
2 red capsicums, deseeded and julienned
1 bulb fennel, trimmed and finely sliced
3-4 radishes, trimmed julienned
4 long green shallots, trimmed and finely sliced
3 handfuls of fresh soft herbs (choose from parsley,coriander, mint, fennel, and chervil), leaves picked and chopped.
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Combine vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Add cabbage, red capsicum, carrot, fennel, radish and spring onions, and toss.
- Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
- Just before serving, toss through fresh soft herbs