Monday, July 22, 2013

Green Cabbage Slaw with Miso Dressing

green cabbage slaw salad

I have a tendency to go on a lot about my efforts to eat more green things here. It's not that I dislike green things, or am in any way anti-vegetables, but in recent years I've found it to be somewhat challenging to incorporate salads into my daily (and even my weekly) life.

There was a time when almost all I ate was salad. That time was also when I lived in a dormitory and ate in a cafeteria everyday, where the choice was between burgers, fries, pizza, sodium-loaded stir-frys, and the ever popular mystery dinner (which could be anything from lasagna to casseroles of unknown origin). And then there was a salad bar, which I frequented daily. I gave everything else a pretty wide berth (except for the dessert table, which I also frequented daily).

My friends used to look at me askance whenever I arrived at the dinner table with my cafeteria tray piled high with salad, staring at my choice of dinner as if I was mentally unhinged. Everyone thought I was on a diet and denying myself, which couldn't have been further from the truth (especially considering how often I grabbed dessert). Truth is, I like salad, and it was the freshest, most wholesome option available. Every day there was a salad bar filled with greens, veggies, and all sorts of things necessary for making salads.

I invented all sorts of salad combinations during that first year of university - sometimes I went the sweeter route and topped it with raisins, chickpeas, and poppy-seed dressing, other days I went for shredded cheese and a spicy chilli dressing. Every day it was a little different, and somehow I managed to never get bored of salads.

After first year, though, I moved out of residence, and away from my salad bar. Since then, I've never gotten back into the habit of my salad feasts. I still make a good salad now and then, but it's harder to keep a massive amount of greens fresh in the fridge, and sometimes when I come home, all I want for supper is a bowl of popcorn.

However, if I have a good salad dressing in the fridge, this always increases the potential for salad in my life exponentially. When you have a good dressing on hand, salads become so much easier. And last year I finally found the dressing to rule all dressings: creamy miso dressing. I can pour it on pretty much any raw vegetable and it will taste amazing. Add some toasted sesame seeds for extra flavour and crunch, and you're all set.

When I have my miso dressing in the fridge, I get inspired to revisit my salad bar days, and so dishes like this happen. It's essentially everything I look for in a salad: crunchy, filling, fresh, and flavourful. It's mostly cabbage, which I love - it's just a little bit spicy, crunchy, and stands up to dressings well (because let's be honest here, who likes soggy salads).

So go on and get your summer crunch on. You'll be glad you did, I promise.

cabbage slaw

Green Cabbage Slaw with Miso Dressing
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
This salad is crunchy, bright, and satisfying. You can bulk it up more with cooked quinoa, farro, wheat berries, or another hearty grain of your choice if you so desire as well.

4 cups chopped green cabbage (about 1/2 a small cabbage)
2 cups sliced sugar snap peas
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
2 cups shelled edamame
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted

Creamy Miso Dressing
Adapted from Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
This is my absolute favourite dressing, and I almost always have some on the fridge to drizzle over salads. It's tangy, creamy, and packs a wallop of flavour. This recipe makes quite a lot, so you should have some leftover, but trust me, this is a good thing.

3/4 cup brown rice vinegar
5 tbsp white miso
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp honey
2 - 4 tbsp olive oil

layers of cabbage cabbage for slaw
sugar snap peas spicy summer radishes
summer crunch edamame pile
making miso dressing creamy miso dressing

1. Wash and prepare all of the vegetables before chopping. Be careful to remove the strings from the sugar snap peas before chopping them. If using frozen edamame, steam and then rinse them under cold water. Toss all of the vegetables together in a large bowl.

2. Toast sesame seeds over medium heat in a dry skillet, until they start to pop or deepen slightly in colour. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, mix in with the rest of the vegetables.

3. For the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a blender and puree on high until smooth. Taste, and add more miso or olive oil to suit your tastes, depending on how tangy and salty you want the dressing to be. The dressing will keep well in the refrigerator for up to at least two weeks.

4. To serve, scoop salad onto plates or bowls and season with miso dressing according to your tastes. Store any leftovers in the fridge; the salad will keep well for at least 5 days.

crunchy green goodness


  1. Looks delicious! Do u think I can use regular rice vinegar and brown rice miso?

    1. You can certainly use regular rice vinegar (I think brown rice vinegar has just a milder flavour) but I've never used brown rice miso before, so I can't say for certain. I'd recommend making a small batch first to see how you like it - let me know how it goes! :)