Coleslaw – New twists on favorite

Published 11:47 pm Friday, July 3, 2009

Coleslaw is generally used as a side dish with foods such as barbecue, French fries, and other fried foods; notably fried catfish in the Southern U.S. Also, in the South it is common to find it as a common sandwich ingredient, often placed on barbecue sandwiches, and on hamburgers and hot dogs along with chili and hot mustard. It is also used as an ingredient in a Reuben sandwich. A variant with vinegar and oil is often served with pizza in Sweden. It is common for West Virginians to place it on hot dogs with chili, yellow mustard, and chopped onions. “Asian” coleslaws are also popular in the U.S. and usually contain all the typical ingredients plus dry noodles or almonds and no mayonnaise.

Coleslaw was probably consumed, in it earliest form, in the times of the ancient Romans. Since then, it has been popularly adopted in many countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, Belgium, and Spain. The mayonnaise variety of coleslaw could not have arisen until the 18th century as mayonnaise was not yet invented. The term “coleslaw” arose in the 18th century as a partial translation from the Dutch term “koolsla,” a shortening of “koolsalade,” which means “cabbage salad”. “Cole” originates from the Latin, colis, meaning “cabbage”, and is the origin of the Dutch word as well. Southerners refer to it as just “slaw.”

Edna Lewis in her book, “The Gift of Southern Cooking.” has a wonderful recipe for coleslaw. The key to its texture is salting, resting, and squeezing the cabbage to get rid of excess liquid. This slaw could be made a few hours before serving, but it is even better if you start a few days ahead (the salted cabbage can drain one night, then steep in the dressing the next).


Serves 8

1 large head green cabbage, cored and very finely chopped

3 kirby (a pickling variety) cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and sliced paper thin

3 tablespoons kosher salt

The dressing

½ cup white vinegar

½ cup granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

¼ cup vegetable oil

¼ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sour cream

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix together the shredded cabbage and sliced cucumber in a large colander. Toss well with the three tablespoons salt, and leave to wilt for 20 minutes. Squeeze the slaw firmly by handfuls to extract as much liquid as possible, then use your fingers to toss and loosen the squeezed slaw. Toss it into a large bowl.

To make the dressing: Bring the vinegar, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring just until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for three minutes, and whisk in the Dijon mustard and oil. Pour the hot dressing over the reserved slaw, and stir well to blend. Allow to cool slightly before stirring in the heavy cream and sour cream. Taste carefully for seasoning, and add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste as needed. Serve cold or at room temperature.

A twist on an old favorite with a New Orleans touch.

Coleslaw with Remoulade Dressing

1 2-pound green cabbage, quartered, cored, very thinly sliced (10-12 cups)

4 large carrots, peeled, shredded

2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning

2/3 cup mayonnaise

½ cup Creole mustard

3 large green onions, chopped

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 small stalk celery, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon sugar

Place cabbage in large colander; place carrots in medium colander. Toss cabbage with 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt. Toss carrots with ½ teaspoon coarse salt. Let stand 1 hour, tossing occasionally. Drain both vegetables; transfer to large bowl. Whisk mayonnaise and all remaining ingredients in medium bowl. Season dressing to taste with coarse salt and pepper.

Drain any liquid from vegetables; toss with enough dressing to coat.

This recipe is from the cookbook, ”The Cook’s Canvas ” from Wilmington, N.C.


3 pounds cabbage, trimmed

2 green peppers, seeded

3 onions, cut into wedges

1 (4-ounce) jar chopped pimentos, drained

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

2 cups vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

Pulse the cabbage, bell peppers and onions separately in a food processor until ground. Spoon the vegetables into a bowl and stir in the pimentos.

Combine the water, sugar, vinegar, salt, mustard seeds and horseradish in a saucepan and mix well. Cook until heated through, stirring frequently. Let stand until cool. Pour the vinegar dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss until coated.

This recipe from “Screen Doors and Sweet Tea,” uses celery seeds and dry mustard. The dry mustard gives a sharp aroma when moistened. To freshen the flavor of this slaw or change it during its long run (that is if you are eating it over three days), stir in an apple cut into matchsticks or thinly slice a fennel bulb and orange segments.

Three-Day Slaw

(Serves 8 and it will hold well for three days)

1 cup cider vinegar

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon celery seeds

1 ½ teaspoons salt

1 cup corn or vegetable oil

1 small head green cabbage, shredded

1 small white onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced thinly

1 cup shredded, peeled carrot

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, sugar, mustard, celery seeds, and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the oil. Cool until just warm to the touch, about 30 minutes.

In a large bowl or re-sealable food storage bag, combine the cabbage, onion, bell pepper, and carrot. Pour the warm dressing over the cabbage mixture. Cover and marinate for eight hours, refrigerated, or up to three days.

I bought a new cookbook over the weekend in New Orleans by Donald Link.

He has the restaurant Cochon and has opened a new butcher shop and Swine Bar! which I wanted to check out. His new cookbook, “Real Cajun”, was there and I could not resist. He has a little different twist for his coleslaw using mint. We had a nice sandwich while there also using mint—pork-belly with cucumbers and mint.

Mint Coleslaw

1 cup mayonnaise

½ teaspoon salt. or more as needed

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Juice of 1 lime

1 large jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped

1 bunch scallions (white and green parts), minced

1 small napa cabbage, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)

1 cup mint leaves, torn into large pieces

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

Whisk together the mayonnaise, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, vinegar, lime juice, jalapeño, and scallions in a large mixing bowl. (Alternatively, puree the scallions, jalapeño, lime juice, vinegar, and seasonings in a food processor, then transfer to a mixing bowl and fold in the mayonnaise.) Add the cabbage, mint, and carrots and toss until well coated. Taste for seasonings and add more salt as desired.

Have a happy Fourth of July and make some coleslaw to go with your barbecue!