Do you suffer from salad boredom? It’s so easy to fall into a rut when it comes to salad-making. A week’s supply of Romaine lettuce and a couple of good homemade dressings can keep you in almost instant salads for a week. It’s a great time saver, but after a while the salads all taste alike, even with different dressings. They look alike too! If you eat with your eyes like I do, that’s a problem.
Having the opportunity to try salads from other cuisines has helped me think outside of the green lettuce box. This slaw is an example. Ten years ago you would have never found a cabbage salad like this on my menu. In fact, I had to work at coming up with the two additional cabbage salads other than the one I grew up on. You’ve come a long way, Baby!
The first time I tasted anything like this salad was in a local Thai restaurant. I was so smitten, I wanted to lick the plate when the salad was done. I tasted and analyzed and made mental notes. After a quick stop at the grocery, I headed home to reproduce that savory salad. How easy!
The salad recipe below developed from that visit to the Thai restaurant and with inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi and his vegetable treasury of recipes, Plenty. Every time I make a salad like this the ingredients and amounts change based on what is on hand. You will find the same to be true for you. You should feel free to change ingredients and amounts. You are the kitchen artist. Paint with bold strokes!
4 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1 tablespoon maple syrup
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce or 1 teaspoon Tamari/soy sauce
1 small mildly hot chili, seeded and finely minced
1/2 small head green cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 small head red cabbage, fined shredded
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely minced
2 cups finely shredded greens such as tender chard, bok choi or any of the Asian greens
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted (or chopped peanuts)
Sweet Sour Spicy Slaw Steps
Mix all the dressing ingredients in a small container and set aside for the flavors to blend. This dressing will keep nicely in the refrigerator for a week so you might want to mix up extra to use later.
When preparing the greens, chop up the cilantro, mint, and tender greens after you chop the cabbage. Keep the red cabbage separate from the green cabbage until the final stage. This keeps the red from bleeding on the green as it sits. Processing the dark green materials last keeps them from getting dark as they sit around. All this ensures a bright and appealing salad. (You probably eat with your eyes, too.)
Lightly toss all the vegetables together in a salad bowl. Drizzle on the dressing and toss enough to coat all the greens. Breathe in the aroma of that salad dressing. It’s intoxicating!
For some extra visual appeal, garnish with some larger green leaves of whatever green you’ve added to the mix. In the accompanying picture you see frisee, an Asian green.
Sprinkle toasted nuts on top as garnish and for added texture.