springtime and a recipe for red cabbage slaw with cider vinegar dressing
"It has been so wet stones glaze in moss;
everything blooms coldly.
June efforts quietly.
I’ve planted vegetables along each garden wall
so even if spring continues to disappoint
we can say at least the lettuce loved the rain."
-Dear One Absent This Long While, by Lisa Olstein
I peered outside this morning and spotted some adorable little flower buds growing on the tips of trees, just waiting for a few more decent days before they feel confident enough to bloom. This immediately made me just a little bit happy. As everyone knows, the appearance of buds on trees means that it's officially springtime. Now technically the first day of spring was March 19th, but I call shenanigans on that arbitrary-feeling date choice. There was snow, there was ice, there was the need to continue wearing my boots and winter jacket 24/7, and that just ain't spring. But this, here and now, is spring,- buds, rain, green shoots, and petrichor,- the smell of the earth after the rain. I'm not saying we won't get more snow (let's be realistic here, we live in Canada) but I'm saying that at this point it will be the exception rather than the rule. Probably. Please.
With spring comes the spring holiday season, aka. Easter and Passover. This seems like a bit of an an off year for all of that, though, as a lot of us are celebrating with our families digitally rather than with a large gathering. When my Nonna (who is an elderly Italian woman, and thus, very focused on tradition) realized that we weren't going to have the traditional Easter celebratory weekend this year, she was suuuuper upset. Especially because it's also her birthday on Friday. She understands the reason why this all has to be the that way it is for now, but that doesn't mean that she isn't disappointed. So what I'm going to do is make and stealthily drop off the fraguni (deep-dishish, ricotta-filled, personal-sized traditional Calabrese easter pizzas) on my Nonna's doorstep this weekend. Being able to enjoy fraguni on Easter and knowing that the traditions are being carried on despite the unusual state of the world right now is going to mean everything to her. And I feel like this is the sort of thing that needs to be a positive point of focus on right now,- taking the times and things that are special to us and our loved ones and adapting them so that they are still special and still have value, even if they look different.
And on that note, the recipe I have for you today is a bright, beautiful, super simple red cabbage slaw with cilantro, scallions and (optional) jalapeño with a cider vinegar dressing. It's the perfect accompaniment to any delicious braised meats or fried fish that might grace your table during this spring holiday season as the acidity of the vinegar in the dressing balances out the fat of the heavier dishes. It's sweet, tangy, tart, fresh and just a bit spicy. It also requires minimal prep, can be done in advance, uses inexpensive ingredients, is vegan and gluten-free and, if I say so myself, is an essential spring and summer side dish.
Get comfortable with the idea that this could quickly become your newest obsession, because it won’t be long before this red cabbage slaw makes an appearance on every sandwich, burger, taco, BBQ plate, bowl and green salad you have a hand in. Every meal is about to become a beautiful shangri-slaw. Nudge, nudge.
red cabbage slaw with cider vinegar dressing
Serves: 8-10 people prep time: 30 mins total time: 4hrs 30 mins
For the dressing:
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 1 cup of cider vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 cup of light olive oil or pomace oil
- 1 head of cabbage, preferably red for aesthetic purposes, but green will do just as well
- 1 jalapeño, halved, seeds removed and sliced thinly
- 3 bunches scallions, washed well and sliced
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, washed well and chopped
DirectionsFor the dressing:
1. Place the cider vinegar and white sugar in a small pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Whisk in the salt, pepper and olive oil/pomace oil and set the dressing aside to cool slightly while you prepare the slaw ingredients
For the slaw:
3. Remove any dry, icky or especially fibrous outer leaves from the cabbage and discard.
4. Cut the cabbage into quarters, vertically and through the core. Remove the core from each of the quarters and discard. Slice the cabbage into 1/8" shreds with a large chef knife or mandoline and place in a large bowl.
5. Add the jalapeno and dressing to the cabbage and mix well.
6. Place a small, clean plate or two on the slaw in order to weigh it down and ensure that the cabbage stays immersed in the dressing. Place in the refrigerator and allow to marinade for 4 hrs to overnight.
7. Remove the small plates from the slaw and drain and discard half of the liquid from the bowl. Add the sliced scallions and chopped cilantro to the slaw and mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
8. Serve chilled within 24hrs for the best taste and texture. Enjoy!