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You'll throw rocks at any other Coleslaw after trying this one!

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

We both LOVE coleslaw! It just hits all the right notes: crunchy, sorta sweet, sorta tangy, fresh, healthy. Well, not so healthy with all that fat-laden conventional mayonnaise that most places load it up with. It's a sad way to mess up an otherwise wonderful side dish.

All my time in France taught me that there's far more to some vegetables - carrots, celeriac (celery root), turnips, rutabagas and such than most Americans think. There's not a French grocery store that I've ever been in - like my favorite Carrefour store in Issoire, France - that doesn't have to-go salads of grated carrot or celeriac lightly dressed in a Sauce Remoulade. Those are standards there. Potato Salad? Not so much, which is a shame. I should do something about that when I'm there, n'est-ce pas?

'Quelle surprise' that I'd go for a French-inspired riff on the all-American classic Coleslaw.

According to Merriam-Webster:

Coleslaw is the correct spelling for the cabbage-based side salad often served alongside barbecue. It is sometimes mistaken as "cold slaw" as it is usually served cold (and early records use this term), but the word derives from the Dutch koolsla, with cole referring to cole crops such as cabbage.

Did you know that? I didn't.

Most recipes for coleslaw base it on shredded, thinly sliced or chopped green cabbage, with just a touch of grated carrot for color. That's what I, naively, thought coleslaw had to be for much of my life. It's certainly what I was used to, growing up in south Florida. It's that green stuff with mayonnaise that you ate with deep-fried fish and hush puppies.

Ah, how times change. Nowadays, the whole-food, plant-based, no added oil me thinks and does differently.

Shredded green cabbage is just the starting point.

I'll often add any of the following:

  • LOTS of grated carrot

  • Thinly sliced, julienned radishes. Especially when I have really large radishes.

  • Chopped red onion

  • Grated celery root (Celeriac) or thinly sliced celery stalks

  • Grated turnips or even rutabaga

  • Grated white or golden raw beets

  • Finely minced radish leaves

  • Finely minced dandelion greens

  • Finely shredded Collards or Kale

  • Shredded Radicchio leaves

  • Toasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds

  • Toasted sliced almonds

  • Golden raisins

  • Chopped dates

  • Chopped dried figs

  • Goji berries

  • Grated apple (Granny Smith is the best for this)

  • Grated Asian Pears (because they're firmer and grate better)

  • Oranges - peeled, seeded Navel Oranges, that have been segmented and cut into bite-sized pieces

One of the best parts of my coleslaw is that you can be sneaky and hide all manner of 'healthy' plants in there and the kids will never have a clue.

If you don't have a 'box grater', then you really should get one. They cover just about all the bases in the kitchen! It doesn't need to be fancy. You don't need some cutesy box underneath to catch the grated vegetables. Keep it simple. Oh, and that's grated turnip you're lookin' at above.

Once you have all your vegetables grated, shredded, sliced or chopped, toss it into a bowl and add mayonnaise. Not that goopy fat-laden stuff in a jar. I'm talkin' good, plant-based, no-added-oil mayo made from raw cashews. My plant-based mayonnaise holds up well for a couple weeks in the fridge without separating, unlike the grocery store vegan, oil-based mayo. And, you can customize it with just the flavors you like. Think of it as a 'blank canvas'. Add a touch of your favorite hot sauce. Or, more mustard. Anyway, make it your own.

Combine it all, and taste. Adjust the seasonings. I usually add a good amount of freshly ground pepper! Maybe a little more granulated onion powder. Tarragon can be nice.

Coleslaw can be one of your family's favorite side dishes since it goes so well with soups, sandwiches, stews and more.

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