Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Coleslaw For All Times

Now that summer is in full swing, there is any number of occasions for backyard barbecues, picnics in the park and lunching by the lake. No such outdoor eating event seems complete without a full array of salads. Pasta salad, potato salad, macaroni salad, tossed salad, etc., all seem to make appearances at summer buffets. Many salads, especially those made with mayonnaise, need to be kept chilled. A baked in the sun potato salad has spoiled many a family reunion! But, properly care for, there are few things better with a fat, juicy burger than a good potato salad.

Salads can change their personalities simply by using a different dressing. Cool and creamy can turn to sweet and sassy in no time. Coleslaw has the advantage of being equally delicious dressed with a mayo-based dressing, a cooked dressing or a vinaigrette. If you're passive about cabbage then you probably aren't much of a coleslaw fan in the first place. But, if you love cabbage, then the possibilities are endless!

I like to make a few different versions of coleslaw. This one is particularly a favorite, and every time I bring it to a summer shindig everyone devours it. You can eat it as a salad, put in on a pulled pork or barbecue sandwich. It's also great on a hot dog or grilled sausage. This coleslaw stands out because of its sweet celery seed dressing and infusion of fresh herbs...and you can make it in a jiff! Take this beautiful salad to your next party, whether it be summer, fall, winter or spring, and you'll be sure to take home an empty bowl!

Sweet Celery Seed Dressing
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup vinegar (apple cider or white)
1 cup corn oil

Put all ingredients except for corn oil in blender. Blend ten seconds to combine. Turn blender on high and slowly drizzle in corn oil. You will see the mixture come together (emulsify). Continue to blend until all the oil is mixed in. Transfer to container and refrigerate at least two hours. Can be made a day in advance. Use about one cup of this dressing for one standard bag of coleslaw mix.

Coleslaw (ala Polska)

There's two schools of thought on making coleslaw.  You can buy a head of cabbage and slice, shred and dice it yourself, add in some carrots and red cabbage for color and let the good times roll. I tend to do this more in the fall when giant heads of cabbage are overflowing the farmers market and I buy three of them because they are only a dollar each.

However, there is something to be said for sheer convenience, too. There is a lot of good coleslaw mix in the salad section of the market that's washed, chopped and ready to go right out of the bag. If you are pressed for time or energy, as I was, by all means go this route.

Most packaged coleslaw mix is shredded. My preference is DICED cabbage, so I use a food chopper to make finer cuts to the shredded cabbage until it resembles a small dice. Then add in 8-10 sprigs of FRESH dill and a good handful of FRESH parsley (curly or flat, whichever you prefer). Combine herbs and cabbage mixture and then add the sweet celery seed dressing (above) and toss to coat. Serve immediately.

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