Montana Public Radio

When Life Hands You Cabbage, Make Coleslaw

Apr 12, 2020

Traditional meals across Europe feature some sort of long-lasting pickled cabbage salad; there's krautsalat in Germany, insalata capricciosa in Italy, kapusta provansal in Russia and Ukraine, and veckosallad in Sweden.  Traditional American coleslaw features finely-sliced green or red cabbage, sliced carrots, whole milk, vinegar, sugar, mayonnaise and buttermilk. It's a staple of summer picnics and barbecues and can be made far in advance.

Greg Patent says: "For a pound of cabbage, add at most two tablespoons of sugar, half a cup of mayonnaise and a few tablespoons of milk and buttermilk. You have to do this by eye, depending on how much you're making."

"I, of course, inevitably chop up some chili peppers," comments Jon Jackson.  

Greg: "I like to put in thinly-sliced scallions and sweet peppers. If you want some heat, add a jalapeño pepper. For tri-color coleslaw, put in green and red cabbage and shredded celery. Make a vinagrette dressing with a nice dose of mustard." Distilled white vinegar and some sour cream with a dash of sugar also makes a good, basic dressing.

Coleslaw's flavor improves over a few days in the refrigerator; the dressing gets absorbed by the cabbage, whose tough cell walls keep it from becoming soggy.

Broccoli stems - peeled and shredded - or apples - are more good additions. Jon adds: "Of course, people add all sorts of things - bacon, pieces of ham, cheeses. It's one of those dishes that seems to call out the creativity of the cook."

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 4/12/20, 6/19/16 & 6/23/16. Listen weekly on the radio at 9:53 a.m. Sundays, or via podcast.)