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summer grilling side: vinegar slaw



We went to the beach yesterday, and it was everything I had hoped for (except for giving my kids their first sunburns…doh!): breezy, warm, blue sky, and berries. Yes, berries! Unique to the New England shoreline experience is that you can stop off for some fresh-picked berries or even pick your own. A refreshing end to a hot day. Pictures tomorrow!

By the time we got home, we were all exhausted and over-sunned, so cooking a huge dinner wasn’t appealing to us. I took stock of what we had on hand, and we opted for a fast but satisfying meal of grilled shrimp and vinegar-based coleslaw. Now, I don’t want to get into a barbecue-esque argument about whether vinegar or mayonnaise makes a better coleslaw dressing. And anyway, my recommendation for this dish goes beyond my disdain for mayonnaise; it is one of the freshest, most cooling salads I’ve ever eaten. I adapted it from a recipe in Bon Appetit’s 2-week food-lovers cleanse

If, like me, you’re planning to make smitten kitchen’s cold rice noodles on a hot day this week, then you’ll already have all of the ingredients on hand (minus the cabbage, which I’m known to nearly always have a head of in my fridge now that I have newly breastfeeding doula clients. TMI ALERT: Did you know you can use cold cabbage leaves to heal breast soreness? Now you do! I’m full of food-based breastfeeding tips. Ask me about coconut oil sometime).

Any cabbage will do, but savoy is my favorite because its tender, less moist leaves seem to pickle easier. And so inexpensive–I do believe this head cost me a buck or thereabouts at my local farm stand.  I might even grow my own next year since New England appears to have the ideal climate for such a veggie.

quick pickled cabbage slaw
serves 4

4 c. (about 1 small head) finely shredded cabbage
2 tsp. salt
1 carrot, peeled into thin strips
1 green onion, finely diced
1 Tbs. cilantro, chopped

1 Tbs. lime juice
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1/4 tsp. grated fresh ginger

Toss salt and cabbage with a few ice cubes. Let it sit in a colander for 30 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together dressing ingredients. Add remaining ingredients and toss together. Chill in refrigerator for another 30 minutes. It makes great leftovers too; I might just make myself some summer rolls today with rice paper, some of this slaw, basil leaves, and grilled shrimp.

Update (7-11-12): I forgot to mention the many health properties of cabbage. There have been a slew of EWWWW GROSS fermented cabbage juice posts out there recently by real foodies, and while I’m not sold on THAT idea, I’m totally on board with incorporating more cabbage into my diet. I won’t get into too many health details (for that you can read here and here), but a nutshell version is that cabbage is high in vitamin C, amino acids, fiber, and some of those miracle cancer-fighting cruciferous veggie antioxidant properties too.

Note: There are those who will tell you not to eat any raw cabbage because of it is a goitrogen (i.e. suppresses thyroid function by inhibiting iodine uptake). Others will tell you it is ok to eat goitrogens but no more than four cups per week or that avoiding goitrogens is more of a problem for vegans. My own feeling is that because there are actually also thyroid-enhancing foods out there (such as avocado, olives, sunflower seeds, and other wholesome foods with saturated fats), a person in good general health should focus on eating a well-rounded diet and not single out any particular real, whole food to avoid. Everything in moderation, right?

Editor’s note: This post is part of Freaky Friday, Fight Back FridayFrugal Days, Sustainable WaysReal Food WednesdayThe Homestead Barn Hop, and Monday Mania