Slaws, salads and other appetizing dishes take their tastes from cabbage, carrots or both.

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Slaws, salads and other appetizing dishes take their tastes from cabbage, carrots or both.

Carrots, cabbage show their versatility

By Addie Broyles
Cox Newspapers

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AUSTIN, Texas – Cabbages and carrots are two vegetables that I’m happy to let someone else grow.

I’ve tried in years past to grow my own, but both items take too long to get very large and take up a little too much space in my not-so-big garden beds.

In the cold weather months, I prefer growing other foods that we eat frequently, such as spinach, lettuce greens, chard, kale and cilantro, which are also all plants that I can cut leaves off and will keep on growing for multiple harvests.

All this is to say that I’ve been happy to see lots of carrots and cabbage in my recent community-supported agriculture boxes, but after several weeks of both, I was running out of ways to roast and braise them.

In grocery stores, cabbages and carrots are inexpensive no matter what time of year you buy them.

In fact, the first winter slaw I made this year was all carrots and no cabbage. Tossed with a few thinly sliced red onions and a stark olive oil-and-vinegar dressing, the carrot slaw added a perfect crunch to a taco that I made from – I kid you not – leftover fish sticks from my kids’ lunch one weekend afternoon.

That carrot slaw revived the years-long conversation I’ve been having with anyone who will listen about the nuanced differences between a salad and a slaw. Sometimes, the line is so thin, I can’t tell them apart myself.

Some will say that using a leafy lettuce or spinach is the primary difference, but not all lettuce-free salads, such as one made with tuna, potato or pasta, are slaws.

Thin, uniformly cut and dressed slices are a key indicator of a slaw, which is also why they can take a little more time to put together than a salad, which can be comprised of chunky, roughly chopped ingredients and dressed at the end.

This brings us to cabbage. Red, green, Napa, savory or any other branch off the Brassica tree, including Brussels sprouts and broccoli, are ideal for standing up to tangy, vinegar-based dressings. Just how sweet and creamy said dressing has to be is entirely up to you, and some of us prefer oil-and-vinegar slaw over the mayonnaise-laden ones found at fast food restaurants and in the prepared food aisle of the grocery store.

The best part about making slaws at home is that you can suit your tastes, which means if you’re not a fan of mayonnaise, you can still make a creamy slaw with Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Don’t like cabbage at all? Experiment with other hearty vegetables, such as radishes, broccoli (including the stalks), fennel or Brussels sprouts.

The addition of fruit and nuts to any savory dish can polarize a crowd, but apples, pears, bell peppers, dried fruit or toasted nuts can really brighten up an otherwise too monotonous side dish.

A few more tips on making your slaw spectacular:

  • Start with a sharp knife. It’s good to have your knives sharpened yearly by a professional. Don’t learn the lesson the hard way while trying to chop carrots into matchsticks.
  • If you have one, put your food processor or mandolin to work to thinly slice or shred the ingredients.
  • For the dressing, start with a ratio of one part oil to one part vinegar and let your tongue be your guide on additional salt, sugar, fat, tang or even spice, like ginger or chili paste.
  • Don’t dress your slaw if you aren’t going to eat it within the next few hours. Once coated in vinegar and oil, the ingredients will start to lose their crunch. That doesn’t mean you can’t eat leftover slaw; it will just be less of a star on the plate.
  • Some people will insist on salting and then rinsing cabbage to let it release some of the liquid before proceeding with a recipe, but I’ve found that to be an unnecessary step. Rinsing the cabbage introduces so much extra water that even after blotting with a towel, it seems to defeat the purpose.
  • Slaws aren’t just for picnics! No matter what kinds of vegetables you make them with, slaws are a healthy accompaniment to so many lunches and dinners, and some are even hearty enough to stand on their own as a light lunch.


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SIDE DISH

Carrot Slaw With Greek Yogurt, Lemon And Coriander

1/4 cup plain Greek or other thick yogurt

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons honey

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

5 cups coarsely grated carrots (about 6 medium carrots)

1/3 cup finely chopped carrot tops (optional)

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice and olive oil. Add honey, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper, and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the carrots, carrot tops (if using) and raisins. Add dressing and toss gently, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Garnish with almonds before serving.

Yields 4 to 6 servings.

Adapted from “Root-to-Stalk Cooking” by Tara Duggan.


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SIDE DISH

Old-Time Cabbage Slaw

1 head cabbage, very thinly sliced

4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Pinch of celery seed and dill weed to taste

Julienned or thinly sliced carrots, for garnish

Place the julienned or sliced cabbage in a large bowl. Add the vinegar, olive oil and seasonings and toss well. Allow to marinate for 2 hours at room temperature (this will soften the cabbage) and then refrigerate. Top with carrots and serve chilled.

Yields 12 servings.

From “Food for Fuel, Food for Taste, Food for Health, Food for Thought” by Melinda West Seifert.


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SIDE DISH

Pistachio Apple Salad

3 medium endive heads, thinly sliced crosswise (about 3 packed cups)

2 medium gala, Fuji or Honeycrisp apples, peeled, quartered, cored and thinly sliced

1/4 cup honey mustard dressing (recipe below)

Kosher salt

Black pepper

1/2 cup roasted and salted pistachio nuts, shelled and chopped

Combine the endive and apple slices in a large bowl. Add enough dressing to suit your tastes, and gently toss the salad together with your fingers. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide among plates or bowls. Top with the chopped pistachio nuts before serving.

Yields 4 servings.

 

Honey Mustard Dressing

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk the vinegar, olive oil, honey, mustard and salt until combined. Season to taste with pepper.

Use the dressing immediately or refrigerate in a sealed jar for up to three days. Shake well before serving.

Recipe from “Nom Nom Paleo” by Melissa Tam and Henry Fong


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SIDE DISH

Christmas Slaw With Slivered Pears, Cranberries And Pecans

8 cups very finely sliced green cabbage

1/3 cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon finely minced fresh ginger

1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest

Kosher salt

2 large Bartlett pears

1/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions

1/2 cup very finely chopped dried cranberries

1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/3 cup very finely chopped toasted pecans

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage, lime juice, sugar, ginger, lime zest and 1 teaspoon salt. Let sit, tossing occasionally, until softened but still somewhat crunchy, 30 to 40 minutes.

Peel the pears, cut them in half and scoop out the cores and stems. Lay the halves cut side down on a cutting board and slice them very thinly lengthwise. Cut the slices lengthwise again into thin sticks.

Add the sour cream to the cabbage mixture and toss. Add the pears, scallions, cranberries, most of the chopped parsley, and most of the chopped pecans. Toss again. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining parsley and chopped pecans. Serve right away.

From “Fresh From the Farm: A Year of Recipes and Stories” by Susie Middleton (Taunton Press, $28).


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SIDE DISH

Lemony Cabbage Slaw

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup light mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 small head green cabbage (about 11/2 pounds), cored and finely shredded

2 large carrots, shredded

1 small bunch radishes (about 5 ounces), thinly sliced

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley, plus more for serving

In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the cabbage, carrots, radishes, onion, and parsley. Toss to coat, and adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Serve garnished with more parsley.

Yields 8 servings.

From “Bobby Deen’s Everyday Eats” by Bobby Deen.


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SIDE DISH

Lime-Sesame Slaw With Cilantro And Peanuts

For the dressing

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tablespoon agave nectar, honey or sugar

2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (can use Sriracha or other Asian-style hot sauce)

2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil

For the slaw

1 head cabbage (red, green, Napa or any combination), cored and shredded, about 6 cups total

2-3 carrots, cut into matchsticks or shredded

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion

1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped cilantro

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

3/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

To make the dressing, whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or glass measuring cup and reserve.

Place the shredded cabbage, carrots, peanuts, green onion and cilantro in a bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss. Add dressing and mix thoroughly to combine.

Let slaw rest for an hour so that some of the liquid from the cabbage releases. Toss again and add peanuts just before serving.

Recipe courtesy Addie Broyles.


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SIDE DISH

Roasted Carrot ‘Fries’ With Roadhouse Dipping Sauce

1 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into pieces 2 to 3 inches long and 3/8 inch wide

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Roadhouse dipping sauce (below)

Heat the oven to 475 degrees.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a mixing bowl, toss the carrots with the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Spread in one layer on the sheet pan. Roast until the carrot sticks are very well-browned and tender, tossing once with a spatula if you like, 26 to 28 minutes.

Let cool for a few minutes on the sheet pans, sprinkle with a little more salt, and serve warm with roadhouse dipping sauce.

Yield 3 to 4 servings.

 

Roadhouse Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir well. Let sit for several minutes for the flavors to develop. Refrigerate if making ahead.

From “Fresh From the Farm” by Susie Middleton.


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SIDE DISH

Caramelized Carrots And Shallots With Spinach And Citrus Brown Butter

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

1 pound carrots

4 shallots (6 to 7 ounces total)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 to 5 fresh thyme sprigs

Kosher salt

2 cups (loosely packed) fresh baby spinach leaves (about 11/2 ounces)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, lemon juice, and lemon zest.

Peel and trim the carrots and cut them into pieces that are 2 to 3 inches long and 3/8 to 1/2 inch wide. Peel the shallots, cut them in half, and trim just the hairy part off of the root end (keeping the root end mostly intact will help hold wedges together). Put the shallot halves cut side down on a cutting board and slice them into wedges about 3/4-inch wide.

In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the carrots, shallots, thyme sprigs, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Toss well. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are limp and have lost their opacity, and a few of the carrots are just starting to brown, 8 to 9 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking, stirring more frequently, until all the carrots are shrunken and tender and most are browned (the shallots will be very brown), 10 to 12 minutes. Add the spinach leaves and toss with tongs just until wilted. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the thyme sprigs.

In a small skillet or saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Cook, swirling occasionally, until the milk solids in the butter turn a nutty brown color, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for a few minutes. Add the citrus juice mixture to it.

Scrape and pour the citrus brown butter over the carrot mixture. Toss well and taste for salt, adding more if necessary. Transfer to a serving platter or plates and serve right away.

Yield 3 to 4 servings.

From “Fresh From the Farm” by Susie Middleton.