All in the (Cabbage) Family: Slaws!

By Chef Nancy Berkoff, EdD,
RD

This is a “betwixt and
between” time of year for produce… summer fruit just beginning to appear,
winter fruit coming to a seasonal close. Members of the cabbage and cruciferous
family can fill the gap with color and crunch. It is a perfect time to include
slaws on the menu.

     “Cole” in Shakespeare’s time meant
“cabbage.” Just as the language has changed, so has the way to make slaws (which
is thought to mean “salad” in ancient Central European languages).  

     Several years ago, a frozen food
manufacturer got tired of throwing out all the broccoli stalks left over from
freezing the more popular broccoli florets. The stalks were peeled and shredded
and, voila, broccoli slaw was born! Many school districts are opting for
broccoli slaw over the traditional cabbage slaw, as it stays crunchy for a
longer time, is easy to keep on your fork, and is higher in some nutrients than
green cabbage.

     Shredded broccoli slaw kits are available
in the produce section of many grocery stores. The ready to use kits include
shredded broccoli, shredded carrots, and some dressing. You can make your own
broccoli slaw by peeling broccoli stalks with a potato peeler and shredding
them with a hand grater or in a food processor.

     If broccoli slaw is too much work, use
other types of cabbage and greens to be used singly or in combinations. This
can include shredded red cabbage, Napa cabbage, Savoy cabbage, kale, and Swiss
chard. Many of these leafy veggies are available shredded and ready to use in
the produce section. Preshredded veggies usually have a seven day shelf-life if
kept refrigerated.

     You
can prepare a tofu-based mayonnaise by combining silken or soft tofu in a
blender or food processor with a small amount of prepared mustard, white pepper,
and white vinegar. Unflavored soy-, oat-, or almond milk yogurt can be mixed
with a small amount of prepared mustard and white pepper to be used instead of
commercial vegan mayonnaise. The texture is similar to mayonnaise and the
flavor gives a pleasant “tang” to slaws.

     Slaws don’t have to have a creamy
dressing. Slaw ingredients can be tossed with vinegar and oil dressings. Mix
apple cider vinegar with a small amount of vegetable oil, chopped parsley, and
diced onions and toss with slaw ingredients to make a “slippery” slaw. The same
can be done with vinegar, oil, a small amount of orange juice concentrate,
chopped oranges or grapefruit, and cracker black pepper. Make a pineapple slaw
dressing with vinegar, oil, mashed canned pineapple tidbits, and a small amount
of apple juice concentrate.

     Slaws were not meant to be just a bowl of
greens. Think about adding diced fresh or canned peaches, apricots or pears,
dried raisins, cranberries or dates, fresh apples or grapes, minced walnuts,
pecans or pistachios, or chopped bell peppers, seeded chilies, celery, onions
or leeks, cauliflower, black-eyed peas or green peas.

     No matter which ingredients you select for
your slaws, you will be adding fiber to your day. Cabbage and its relatives add
a bit of calcium and natural antioxidants. Carrots add beta carotene.
Pineapple, red bell pepper, berries, and lemon juice add some Vitamin C. You
get the idea. Use your slaw as a veritable bowl of health.

Red, Orange and Green Slaw
with Citrus Dressing

Serves 7-8 ( have a party!)

1 cup commercial or home-made
vegan mayonnaise

1/3 cup frozen orange juice
concentrate, thawed, undiluted  

 2 teaspoons vegan sugar

 1 teaspoon ground black pepper  

 8 cups shredded cabbage (use a combination of
cabbages for variety)

 2 cups peeled, grated carrots  

 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and finely
sliced  

In a large bowl, combine
mayonnaise, orange juice, sugar, and pepper and whisk until well mixed. Add
cabbage, carrots, and green pepper; toss to combine. Refrigerate for at least 1
hour before serving.