As the mercury creeps ever higher on the thermometer, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and counteract my hardworking air conditioner. Luckily, we’ve been members of a CSA for the last several years (most recently Red Fire Farm in Granby, MA) and so every week I pick up a huge haul of delicious, organic, sometimes unfamiliar, and sometimes in abundance, veggies.
One of the items we’ve tended to get the most of is cabbage. Napa cabbage, red cabbage, savoy cabbage… lots of cabbage! I was a little intimidated by all these leafy vegetables initially, and opted for cooking up one of my favorite comfort foods–stuffed cabbage. But it takes forever, it’s a little complicated and it requires my summer foe: the oven! I’m not a lover of typical cole slaw as I really don’t like mayonnaise, but a friend’s girlfriend introduced me to a recipe for a peanut slaw a few years back that I’ve worked to recreate. It has since become a summer staple around here.
It’s a great dish to bring to a BBQ or potluck, or to just make a huge batch of and keep in the fridge. It’s especially versatile as it doesn’t contain any dairy or meat so it pairs well with most meals, and without the mayo it’s safe to be out of the fridge for awhile.
Here’s the recipe for what’s sure to become a new favorite in your family as well.
Crunchy Peanut Slaw
1 big bowl of slaw, serves at least 8
- 1 medium head green cabbage, outer leaves removed (I prefer Napa Cabbage for this, but anything that comes in your CSA works)
- 1 1/2 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts (half finely chopped, half whole)
- 1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced, green and white parts
- 1 cup chopped cilantro (about two big handfuls unchopped)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup light oil, like canola
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or more, to taste)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce (or more, to taste)
1. Shred the cabbage very finely. The fineness of the shredded cabbage is really what makes this salad; you want it in in threads, almost, and with the threads chopped into bite-size lengths.
2. Toss with the peanuts, cilantro and green onion in a large bowl.
3. Whisk the dressing until emulsified, then taste and adjust to your own preference of sweetness and saltiness. You can also add a pinch of red pepper flakes if you like a little spice.
4. Toss with the cabbage. Garnish with a few more peanuts and green onions and serve.
I know that some people HATE cilantro, and in that case, you can substitute a combination of flat leaf parsley and mint. If you’re dealing with a peanut allergy, you can substitute other nuts, or if you’re avoiding nuts altogether, add some shredded carrots for color and sweetness.
You’ll need a large, very sharp knife for this recipe, a good and stable cutting board and a salad spinner, because while organic fruits and veggies are wonderful, they’re often dirty! My favorite method for cleaning greens is to finely chop them and then soak in a large bowl of cold water, then remove to the salad spinner for a vigorous spin, always a fun job for kids!