I know that on the surface, peering in from your side of the computer screen, this looks like a pile of shredded cabbage, a poorly lit one (look, it was late, okay?). But from my site, from my seat right here, this is pretty much the best thing ever, a yearly event I like to call First Slaw of the Season.
Yes, friends, rooftop grilling season is back (or it was, er, briefly last Saturday afternoon but not really by Saturday evening, when we shivered around the actual grill; details) and I could not possibly be more excited. That means summer is coming. That means Jacob and I get to go to barbecues as separate human beings this summer (aw). That means that this one, the adult one, gets to have a beer (yay).
And I know this is old news to some of you, but still, I must underscore again: We are slaw people. We really, really love our summer slaws. Not Your Mama’s Cole Slaw, Dead Simple Slaws, Green Onion Slaw, Tartar Sauce Slaw, slaw on tacos, Broccoli Slaw and Salads That Are Distinctly Slaw-Like. I even wrote an article about my slaw devotion. And then had a baby that looks like a cabbage (patch kid). I need help, I know.
I also have a serious thing for the Lee Bros., those Charleston guys that got stranded for a few years on the lonely island of Manhattan and were forced to sell boiled peanuts and other wonders to their fellow displaced Southerners to stay warm. Okay, perhaps that’s a wee bit of a dramatic retelling but I do get carried away when I see their approach to cooking. And that they have a new cookbook out. I flipped it open in Barnes and Noble a few weeks ago and it landed on this page, exactly, with the prettiest peanut-ed slaw I’ve ever seen and literally, on the basis of that photo alone (see above: unhealthily obsessed with slaw), I bought the book. It was when I got home that I saw the pudding cakes and pudding parfaits and the, look, I just said pudding twice. How could you need to hear anything else before falling in love with this book?
Cabbage and Lime Salad with Roasted Peanuts
Adapted from the Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern
Right, so, about the slaw: Lime. Peanuts. Red and green cabbage. Slivers of spinach. The lime is awesome, although I really have to advise against the whole lime segments they suggest in the original recipe (which I omit here) as we lovelovelove lime around here and it was still too much lime, by far. Peanuts are wonderful, even better if you can find some of those giant Virginia peanuts I sometimes see at stores (these, sadly, were not). The spinach is definitely a little odd in the slaw department; it is not the most stable lettuce thus not the kind of thing I’d want to eat hours after it had been tossed with dressing but in this, it works. And it makes the salad even prettier, which in my book counts too.
1/2 small red cabbage, trimmed, cored, and shredded (about 6 cups)
1/2 small green cabbage, trimmed, cored, and shredded (about 6 cups)
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1 bunch fresh baby spinach, stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch wide ribbons (about 4 cups loosely packed)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from about 2 small limes)
1 tablespoon Dijon or other salty prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, toss the shredded red and green cabbage with the salt. Transfer the cabbage to a colander and let it drain for two hours. (I was in a rush and did this in one. It was still nicely wilted, but of course could have been even softer.)
If you’re worried about the cabbage being too salty when you’re done with the salting process, taste a piece of cabbage and if it concerns you, rinse and drain the cabbage well. This is not a suggestion in the original recipe, but something I suspect might bother some people.
Put the salted, drained cabbage back into your (rinsed and dried) large bowl and add the spinach. In a medium bowl, whisk the lime juice, mustard and cumin together. Add the peanut oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until the ingredients are thoroughly emulsified. Toss the salad with the dressing and add the roasted peanuts. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
This salad is best served immediately, but it does keep surprisingly well in the fridge for a day or two.