What the hey??!! Is that more cabbage?!
Yes sirree, it is. More cabbage. (Come on, I had to use up the rest of the cabbage that I didn’t just use in the Thai cabbage salad!) Actually, I’m, uh, considering renaming this blog something along the lines of “500bazillion Ways of Eating Cabbage: Some more creative than others, but all quite palatable.” I think it has a ring to it, don’t you? And I’m only on number, what, 6, or something? Which means I could keep going for a looooooong time . I’m not advocating eating only cabbage or anything, but what can I say, I do eat a lot of the stuff. It’s cheap, healthy, and tasty. It feeds my Norwegian soul/appetite while also leaving room for experimentation with other flavors. It’s just a beautiful friendship.
I adapted this from another one of the recipes I tested for the Revision House Urban Farm cookbook I’m working on. It just screams “lovely spring picnic day” to me (which is funny, because it would probably be more appropriate to say a phrase like that demurely, not scream it – note to self, cabbage needs lesson in manners.). This is quite excellent, because I love picnics. I’m particularly obsessed at the moment because we had an unbelievably perfect picnic day this weekend! And, I love foods that seem like picnic foods, whether I actually have them at a picnic or just as part of a regular meal that allows me to pretend I’m picnicking.
It’s more elegant, I think, than your standard coleslaw, especially with the addition of fennel. I don’t use fennel a lot, but every time I do, I think “wow, I should use this more.” It has a crisp, cool, crunch, and lightly sweet licorice flavor that adds dimension without being too strong (I don’t like really strong licorice flavors, but I like this). The slaw would still be yummy and tangy-sweet without the fennel, but I think it’s worth it to pick one up to get that extra nuance. Or, if one appears in your farm share or at the farmer’s market, this is a way to use it (also really good: fennel, watermelon and feta salad. Try it!). Plus, once you have the fennel bulb, it comes complete with fresh fennel fronds (By the way, don’t you just love the word ‘fronds’?) that you can add in addition to/in place of tarragon. It’s a twofer.
Now, make this slaw and some sandwiches, add some lemon slices to a bottle of water, pack them along with a big checkered blanket into a rickety basket, and go forth and picnic! Or (reality check, it’s Wednesday), sit at your desk and day dream about how you are absolutely determined to picnic this weekend.
Sweet and Sour Slaw (serves 4-6)
- about ½ head of cabbage, shredded
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ small red onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced or pounded to a paste
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsp rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar or lemon juice – something acidic that won’t add color)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp mustard
- 2 tsp minced tarragon and/or 2 tsp fennel leaves (or ½ tsp ground anise seed or even basil, just something with a little licoricy flavor)
- 1-2 large tart apples, peeled, cored and cut into small pieces
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- 1 medium head of fennel, cored and sliced thin (about 2 ½ cups)
- salt and black pepper to taste
- Toss shredded cabbage and 1 tsp of salt in colander and set over a bowl. Let stand for about an hour to remove excess liquid. Cabbage could be left for up to 4 hours if necessary. Rinse cabbage under cold running water to remove the salt. Press cabbage to drain water and pat dry with paper towels. (This step makes the cabbage flavor milder and gets out any extra water in the cabbage that could make the slaw a bit soggy after a while. However, if you’re in a hurry and not worried about those things, in my opinion it tastes just fine if you skip this step.)
- Stir together the onion, honey, vinegar, oil, mustard, tarragon (or fennel or anise), and garlic, if using, in a medium bowl to make the dressing. Peel and slice the apple. To prevent the apple from browning, toss the apple with ½ tsp of lemon juice. Quarter the fennel and slice thinly. Toss cabbage, apple, and fennel with the dressing in a large bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep in fridge until ready to eat.