Recipe: Cabbage Salad with Peanut Dressing

This recipe gets tons of compliments every time it is served, without fail.  It’s a perfect way to dress up raw cabbage; simple, yet it lends itself to countless variations depending on what you’ve got on hand.

Cabbage has lots of vitamin C and dietary fiber, and is easy to grow (and if you don’t grow it, it’s extremely inexpensive).  We bought a bag of cabbage when we were stocking up for a small festival here and the price was about $3 USD for 10 cabbages.

This salad is by far my most requested recipe.  I’ve had people e-mail me after leaving asking for it, and many more who get the recipe at the table as they eat.  It’s extremely flexible - the only time I actually measured the ingredients was when I was trying to record the recipe.  You can vary it as you want for the size of crowd and the ingredients you have on hand.

I use a half of a head of cabbage for 3-4 people, a whole cabbage for 5-10 people, and add a bit more from there depending on the crowd.  Other ingredients you can add to make the salad larger include pineapple, finely chopped broccoli, shredded carrots and red onion.  To make it a meal you can add cubes of tofu or chicken. 

Mark Bittman (my favorite food writer) suggests salting your raw cabbage before using it in your salad to leech out a bit of the water and make the cabbage less tough and easier to eat.  I did this in the past, but have found if I slice the cabbage thinly enough salting is unnecessary.  Or, if you use thicker slices, just limit the amount of water you add for thinning the dressing and dress the salad an hour before you plan to serve it.  The salt in the soy sauce will allow the cabbage to wilt a bit, and you can use the water that has been extracted from the cabbage to toss with the thick dressing before serving.

If you use peanut butter in place of peanuts, be sure that you’re buying the real thing.  Your peanut butter should contain peanuts and salt - that’s it! To make the salad a bit less fattening, omit the olive oil.

cabbage-salad

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 to 2 heads of cabbage; green or purple or both
  • 1 cup peanuts, or 1/2 cup fresh peanut butter
  • 1 inch cube of fresh ginger or 1-4 cloves garlic (or both)
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 - 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Juice of one lime (optional)
  • Handful of chopped cilantro (optional)
  • Water for thinning

DIRECTIONS

  1. Core the cabbage and thinly slice it.
  2. Combine peanuts, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, oil, and lime.  Blend until smooth.
  3. Add water to the peanut mixture until the consistency is like a thick dressing.
  4. Toss dressing with the cabbage and garnish with cilantro.  Taste before serving, and adjust seasoning as necessary.  If needed, toss with a little more soy sauce.  To increase peanut taste, just toss with chopped toasted peanuts.

This dressing can also be used as a peanut sauce base for stir fries.  Enjoy!

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