Asian Cabbage Salad

Cabbage has to be one of the most economical vegetables, at least here in the Pacific Northwest, where the green variety often sells for less than fifty cents a pound. It’s loaded with vitamins, too, so it’s a great buy. The problem is finding something to do with these vegetable bowling balls. Sure, you can make coleslaw a few times in the summer, maybe a cabbage soup now and then, but, at least at our house, it gets old pretty fast. In fact, as a child, it seemed like the most undesirable of vegetables, perhaps second only to cooked spinach, which I hated with a passion.

However, as a result of its price and health benefits, I’ve been experimenting with new ways to use cabbage for a long time. In my experience, it seems that the best recipes for this vegetable often come with an Asian twang. The saltiness of soy sauce matches perfectly with cabbage’s crisp texture and unobtrusive flavor. I love it sautéed on high heat, until a few of the thin slices are singed on the edges, with a drizzling of sesame oil over it.

One of my favorite uses of cabbage, though, are cabbage salads. This little concoction still looks to the East, with a dressing inspired by Asian flavors. The raw vegetables and chopped nuts burst in great crunches—no wilted vegetables here. The unpronounced flavors of the underlying vegetables provide a nice palette for this creamy dressing, with salty soy sauce, tart lemon juice, and just a hint of sweetness. The sesame oil is essential here—the tiny bit called for gives the whole dish an infusion of the savory, toasted seeds.

Speed it Up: This is pretty quick already, but you can definitely make the dressing ahead. I wouldn’t chop the vegetables too much in advance, as the cabbage might brown on the edges. I tried to speed this up by putting the cabbage in my food processor, which I am always hearing works from other people. Maybe mine is too small, because the consistency was too mushy. I had been hoping for long, thin slices, and instead got tiny chunks. You might like this, but I would have preferred it shredded.

Veg Meal with Meat Option: I served this with baked tofu for me and roasted chicken breast for Ryan. To make the chicken breast, simply drizzle each breast with olive oil and seasoning salt, then bake at 450 for 30 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Here, it would be nice to add a touch of sesame oil before baking too. I served the tofu and meat alongside this dish, but it would be great chopped and tossed with the salad as well.

Special Diets and Allergies: Vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, wheat free.

Asian Cabbage Salad

Serves 4 as a side dish

The slight sweetness of shredded cabbage and carrots is complimented in this salad by a salty and savory Asian dressing. The vegetables are topped with roasted nuts and sesame seeds, creating a lovely blend of tastes and colors. To make this a main dish, toss in cubes of sautéed or baked tofu or shredded chicken.

Ingredients:

Salad:

1/2 small green cabbage, shredded
1/2 small red cabbage, shredded
1-2 large carrots, peeled and grated
5-8 brown button mushrooms, cut in half lengthwise and sliced
Shredded chicken or chopped, baked tofu (optional)
3 green onions, sliced
1/2 C toasted almonds or cashews, chopped
1 T sesame seeds

Dressing:

6 oz firm tofu
2 1/2 T soy sauce
1 1/2 t agave
1 1/2 t sesame oil
1 1/2 t lemon juice
1 1/2 t olive oil
2 T water

Directions:

  1. Combine all of the salad ingredients (except 2 T of the green onions, the almonds or cashews, and the sesame seeds) in a large salad bowl.
  2. Puree all of the dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender until completely smooth.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Immediately before serving, sprinkle with the remaining green onions, the almonds or cashews, and sesame seeds.

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5 responses to “Asian Cabbage Salad

  1. Asian cabbage salad is one of the only ways cabbage gets used up in my house. I can’t get enough of it. I do a dressing with rice vinegar, braggs, a drizzle of agave and sesame oil then salt and pepper, but I want to try your creamy version 🙂

  2. What a beautiful salad! I’ve been making sauerkraut lately and made a cabbage and sauerkraut soup that I loved, and have you ever made a cabbage parade? I love the one in Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

    I just found your blog via Sweet Veg & I’m so glad! 🙂

    • Hi Emmy! Thanks for the kind words. I love sauerkraut, but have never made it. I used to eat it when I was little with hot dogs. I guess I’m not sure what to eat it with now. I would love to try that soup. I love Deborah Madison’s cookbooks, but never noticed that recipe before–I’ll have to try it out. Any suggestions on good sauerkraut recipes/techniques?

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