Wednesday, November 1, 2006

not your mama’s coleslaw

a forgivable act of mayo

Look, I understand that it’s too in the day early to start talking about mothers. And, at the age of 30, when I say mother, what I really mean is “me, sooner than later” so it sounds a particularly ill-chosen term, not to mention that my mother is a wonderful cook, as is my husband’s mother as was her mother and what I really actually mean is “this is not your (fill in the blank) deli’s/lunch room’s typical, watery/soggy/oily/white/mysterious two-ounce Solo container of forgettable and soon-to-be-chucked coleslaw.” But that makes for a terrifically bad headline.

Like most of us, I’ve never been a fan of coleslaw, as nearly every one I had ever tried was god-awful. I thought it was because I didn’t like cabbage, but this has turned out not to be the case. Then I thought it was because I didn’t like mayonnaise, but this, too, turned out to be a farce. (An aside: have you ever made mayo? It’s really easy! We should totally do it some time.) As it turned out, it was coleslaw, the way it is typically prepared (read: scooped from bucket of mysterious origin and packing date), that I loathed. Ding, ding, ding; we have winner!

coleslaw, bettered

As is an all-too-common theme on this site, Ms. Contessa saved the day with her fresh take on everything you’ve grown bored with. Don’t think coleslaw, think cabbage salad. Don’t think white, as these pictures show it to be anything but. Soggy? No, the trick is to keep the dressing and the veggies separate, as you would with any other salad. Dull? Heck no. Forgettable? Anything but, though you’ll have to try it for yourself to believe me. Now, the recipe does makes an excessive volume of dressing, but it keeps forever (or, as long as that jar of mayo does), and doubles excellently as a dip for raw veggies. In addition, cabbage, when bought fresh, keeps for weeks and week in the refrigerator. (I wasn’t going to bring this up, but we used a half-head to make this in June, and in August, found the remainder wrapped, flawless, unbruised and age mark-free, in the back of the crisper. I’m going to leave the jury out on whether we dug in.)

also, sometimes i buy myself flowers

And yes: This is my first crack-pot-crazed attempt at partaking in the NaBloPoMo-madness. I can’t make any promises, except that I will try, with the following caveats: If I find that the quantity of posting dilutes the quality, presuming there was any to begin with, or if a windfall of an actually-paid freelancing gig comes through, I’m probably copping out. But, to make it to the end, I’m going to need a cheering section, as well as occasional requests for recipes and for that, I’m looking at you, kid.

Not Your Mama’s Cole Slaw
Adapted from Ina Garten

Updated 8/14 with very overdue warning that we find that this makes much more dressing than you’d ever need for this amount of cole slaw. I recommend making the full amount, but only adding half to begin with, and then stirring in additional spoonfuls if it feels like it needs more. I recommend making the full amount because it’s such a flavorful dressing, and will keep in your fridge in a jar for months, or at least the remainder of summer barbecue season, so it’s worth having extra for next time the slaw craving hits.

1/2 small head green cabbage
1/2 small head red cabbage
4 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled and shredded
1 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 cups (16 ounces) mayonnaise, low-fat is fine, as is swapping half with yogurt
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) blue cheese (optional)

Prepare the vegetables: Halve the cabbage halves and cut out the cores. Slice the cabbage as thinly as you can with a sharp knife. Alternately, you can use a mandoline to cut the thinnest slivers or use your food processor’s slicing blade (lay the cabbage horizontally in the feed tube) to do the job in just seconds. Transfer chopped cabbage into a large bowl, discarding any very large pieces. Stir in the shredded carrot and parsley, reserving a few tablespoons of parsley for garnish.

Make the dressing:
Mix the mayonnaise, mustards, vinegar, celery seed, salt and pepper in a smaller bowl. Stir in blue cheese, if using. Toss the cabbage mixture with dressing to taste –- you will probably not need all of it, but it keeps in the fridge for weeks (even longer, but I’m embarrassed to admit how we’ve tested this theory) –- and adjust seasonings as needed.

Do ahead: Vegetables can be prepped and dressing can be made days in advance. Mix them an hour or so before you’ll serve them to allow the flavors to meld


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