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Enter the Cabbage
What is your first thought when someone mentions cabbage? Mine used to be this mushy apparition involving a pungent tomato and cabbage-based soup diet my mom and sister briefly followed when I was in my Jr. High years.
The words: light, refreshing, crunchy, crisp, adaptable, & delicious, were no where near the words that would pop into my head when someone mentioned cabbage.
Enter the cabbage salad. It started out as an attempt to make a better slaw. I liked the idea of cole slaw, but the whole ultra-sweet, soggy mess of cabbage dripping with mayonnaise dressing was incredibly off-putting. It has always been, and forever will be, one of those dishes I ignore at BBQ joints and potlucks. But, one hot summer day, a cool crunchy salad sounded so good, and for some un-explainable reason, I turned to cabbage.
The original recipe
I picked up a bag of pre-packaged Cole slaw mix – green and red cabbage with shredded carrot. I pulled together ingredients I thought would make a creamy (mayo-less) dressing. Namely: avocado, lime, cilantro, a splash of orange juice, salt and pepper – all blitzed together with a drizzle of avocado oil. I added the little bit of leftover cilantro to the cabbage mix. Right before serving, I tossed the cabbage with the avocado dressing. I did this for two reasons. One, it addresses the whole “soggy salad” issue. And two, I didn’t want my beautiful avocado dressing to turn brown. I served the shredded cabbage salad along side my Mexican Enchilada Bake and it was a HIT. Suddenly, my brain was spinning with ideas and recipe variations. Cabbage is such a versatile canvas for salads! So many combos! So many different options! You know what pairs well with cabbage? EVERYTHING!
Infinite Cabbage Salad
- 1/2 head green cabbage shredded
- 1/2 head red cabbage shredded
- 1 carrot grated
If you are crunched for time or “just cannot”, a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix will do nicely. Also, in a pinch I like Dole’s “Angel Hair” cabbage. It’s shredded super finely. However, Ryan and I eat this salad multiple times a week. So we shred our own cabbage with this mandolin and give the cabbage a quick rinse and soak in an ice bath using this salad spinner.
This mandolin has been amazing. We use it at least 3 times a week and it’s lasted over 8 years. We are still on the original one we bought in 2011. And we’ve never sharpened the blades. Just, please, for all that is good in the world, use the guard when making shredded cabbage with a mandolin. You can seriously cut yourself.
We received the salad spinner as a wedding present and I thought, “Who would ever use a salad spinner?” Uh, WE WOULD!
Every. Single. Day.
After 8 years, the original basket came apart due to wear and tear (I’m rough on the salad spinner) and I immediately bought a new one on Amazon. 2 day Prime delivery, baby!
Avocado Lime Dressing
- 1 large avocado or 2 small avocados, pitted
- 1 – 2 limes zest and juice
- 1 tbsp oil olive or avocado
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 1 tsp honey
- 2-4 tbsp water
- cilantro big handful
- salt and pepper to taste
- Remove pit and scoop avocado into immersion blender container, blender, or food processor
- Add lime zest and juice, oil, garlic, cilantro, honey, salt and pepper
- Blend together until smooth
- If dressing is too thick add 2-4 tablespoons of water (or juice) to loosen up
- Keep in airtight container until ready to serve
- Just before serving, toss cabbage mixture with avocado dressing
- Makes just over 1 cup of dressing.
Notes from my kitchen
- I love my Cuisinart immersion blender and my Microplane zester. I’ve been using them for years!
- The key to zesting a lime or lemon is a light touch. When you hit the white part (also known as the pith, which is quite bitter) stop zesting and move to a new spot. The lovely flavor you are after is all in the oil and that resides close to the surface of the skin.
- I used water to thin out my mixture so it could be used as a dressing but in past manifestations of this recipe I have also used orange juice and/or pineapple juice for a little extra sweetness, and bit more “pep and zing.”
- If you want to give it a bacon-y sort of essence (who doesn’t like the avocado-bacon team?) add a few sprinkles of smoked paprika.
- Cilantro can be a polarizing ingredient. It seems you either want to put extra cilantro on everything or you think it tastes like soap. Obviously, I’m in the “extra cilantro, please” camp. If you are one of the ones with mutant tastes buds that doesn’t want their salad to taste like a bubble bath (hi, sister!), feel free to leave the leafy green out! Or serve it on the side for those of differing opinions 😉
- Leftover dressing (if there is any) is an excellent topper on tacos, burritos, burgers, or as a sandwich spread!
While this shredded cabbage salad is a great side dish at a BBQ or on Taco Tuesday – Ryan and I often add a few mix-ins and turn it into a whole meal! Ideas and meals I’d love to share with you!
Stay tuned for different variations, mix-in ideas, and dressing recipes and you will begin to see why I call it Infinite Cabbage Salad!