At its most basic, coleslaw is shredded cabbage, carrot and onion dressed with mayonnaise. Rarely is it served without the embellishment of mustard and chopped parsley, and often seeds or nuts. (Walnuts are popular.) The mayonnaise is often lightened with soured cream or crème fraiîche to freshen it up. A delicious variation is to add grated cheese.
THE RECIPEFinely shred a quarter of a white cabbage, the same of red, half a sweet onion and a couple of medium carrots. Scatter a little salt over them, then leave them in a colander on a plate. After an hour, discard any juice that may have run out and squeeze the vegetables gently. Make the dressing with 6 tbsp of mayonnaise and 2 tsp of grain mustard. (If you wish to add a spoonful of soured cream or thick yogurt or crème fraîche, do it now.) Add chopped parsley, a dash of lemon juice or vinegar and then any bells and whistles that appeal. Enough for 4.
THE TRICKDon't try to make this more than a few hours ahead of time, or the cabbage will take on the slimy note prevalent in ready-made versions. To be interesting it needs the contrast between creamy mayonnaise and crisp vegetables. To get your cabbage really crisp shred it thinly, then soak it for 20 minutes in cold water before draining and salting. My favourite version uses vinaigrette, not mayo, and pomegranate seeds.
THE TWISTSmoked almonds, capers, apples, toasted pecans and sunflower and pumpkin seeds are all worthwhile add-ons. I introduce a modicum of heat with radishes or a layer of crunch with shredded celeriac or paper-thin slices of mouli. Kohlrabi can find a home here, too. Crushed juniper berries will add a Nordic freshness.
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