Monday, June 28, 2010

cilantro lime coleslaw

coleslaw with a kick

This was my first foray into the world of slaws, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into. This mammoth bowl of coleslaw is only half of what I made. A head of cabbage goes a long, long way!

a brightly colored slaw

I decided to make this coleslaw because there was a big old head of red cabbage languishing away in the back of the fridge. Back when Nathan and I made our second bagna cauda pasta dish, I had been in charge of the grocery shopping. I was tired after a long day of work, so when I went to my local Key Food I half hoped/half believed that the red cabbage they had on display in the produce section was actually radicchio. When Nathan arrived he quickly set me straight, and was so kind as to head back out to try his luck at Fine Fare. We both feared the mission would prove fruitless, but he inexplicably found two lonely radicchio heads, sitting in the produce case as if they were waiting specially for us. Indeed, the cashier had no idea what they were, nor how to ring them up, and the manager was equally flummoxed. After much discussion, it was determined that they must be runty red cabbages, so they ended up costing about fifty cents collectively.

That worked out great for the bagna cauda dish, but it also meant that I wound up with a totally superfluous head of red cabbage. Fast forward to my first food co-op pick up a few weeks later, and I've got a fridge full of veggies and a barbecue to attend at my dear friend Christine Jones nee Flood's house. I know I want to bring something to eat, and when I remember I have the cabbage, coleslaw is the obvious choice. I also still have winter food co-op carrots that aren't getting any younger, so I'm thinking this is perfect.

coleslaw close-up

When it comes to finding a recipe, I turn immediately to the smitten kitchen, where Deb has a well established love for slaws. This basic Ina Garten recipe seemed like it would work well enough, but then I dug a little further and discovered this cilantro-laden variant. Since I had gotten a bunch of cilantro from the co-op, I decided to go in that direction.

I chopped up a full head of red cabbage, about half of a small red onion, and then I peeled and thinly sliced 7 or 8 little carrots. This took forever and a day, but I like to think my newly acquired knife skills would now speed up this process considerably. I also decided to add some garlic scapes, which I sliced into little rounds. Then I chopped up some of the cilantro. After all the slicing and dicing was completed, I packed all my chopped veggies into the biggest tupperware I had, which was fit to burst.

I brought this home to Long Island and dressed it the next day, about a half an hour before the party. I was in a bit of a rush, so I ignored the recipe's measurement and just mixed together some mayo, salt, pepper, sugar, lime juice, cayenne pepper and dijon mustard. This only lightly coated my slaw, which was actually what I was aiming for. At this point I realized that I had enough coleslaw to feed a small army, and that only about half of it was going to fit into the largest salad bowl my parents had. Needless to say, I had a lot of leftovers. This slaw is great, but it gets soggier and more liquidy as the days go by, so unless you're having a party of 20 people, stick to half a head of cabbage. That being said, cilantro and lime are a kick ass way to jazz up a typical slaw. It was a great take on a traditional summer dish, and I would certainly make this again.

The whole barbecue was awesome, although I'm sure any Southerner worth his salt would have had a few choice words with us for calling it that. Mrs. Flood served up a typically impressive spread, including amazing brats. Meaghan made some delicious orzo salad with chickpeas, grape tomatoes and basil which would have totally housed Jimmy Bradley's lentil version. It was a delicious dinner, and not bad to look at either— and neither were the lovely guests! It's always a blast to get back together with my high school friends, and I only wish it could happen more often.

it may not be real barbecue, but it still looks like summer to me!

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