Growing up, coleslaw seemed like a mystery. What's so special about a tiny cup filled with shredded vegetables and mayonnaise? But now, it seems impossible to imagine a grilled burger or pulled pork sandwich without a side of coleslaw. But there are plenty of ways you can make coleslaw beyond the regular cabbage and mayo combo.
Take, for instance, this tricolor slaw. The base for this recipe consists of a blend of green cabbage, red cabbage and carrots that give the slaw a vibrant, dynamic appearance beyond pale shades of white and light green. To accomplish its classic creamy texture, the tri-colored slaw uses mayonnaise, but a splash of apple cider vinegar adds some much-needed acidity and a touch of brightness. Another thing that sets this coleslaw apart is the use of paprika, which has a complex flavor palate that ranges from smoky to bitter. While this recipe certainly takes things up a notch, there are plenty of other ways you can get creative when making coleslaw.
Go beyond cabbage
If you're not a fan of cabbage but you still want to jump on the coleslaw bandwagon, you're in luck. There are plenty of great alternatives to cabbage that still stay true to the overall consistency and flavor of coleslaw. If you want something on the sweeter side or if you're making the dish for a fall holiday like Thanksgiving, try using apples. Just slice the apples into matchsticks and add them to the dish with the rest of your ingredients. Prefer veggies? No worries. Kale, carrots and fennel are all great substitutes for cabbage.
Skip the mayonnaise
Mayonnaise isn't for everyone, we get it. If you don't like the creamy condiment or if you want to keep your slaw on the lighter side, mayo can easily be substituted. Cider vinegar is a common ingredient in most coleslaws, but if you don't want mayo you can just use cider vinegar as the main component instead. If you like your coleslaw on the creamier side, then pair cider vinegar with another ingredient like dijon mustard or even honey.
Get creative with your toppings
No need to keep your base to just two or three ingredients. You can easily turn coleslaw into a complex masterpiece by getting creative with your toppings. Want to add a kick of heat? Add sliced jalapenos. Want crunch? Add caraway seeds or nuts. No matter how you choose to bring your coleslaw to the next level, there's no denying that it's one of the best no-cook side dishes to serve at your summer barbecue.
This recipe by JeanMarie Brownson appeared in the Chicago Tribune.
1 medium-size head green cabbage, cored
1/2 small head red cabbage, cored
2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled
1 jar (16 ounces) mayonnaise
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon paprika (smoked or sweet)
Step 1: Use a mandolin or a very sharp slicing knife and a cutting board to slice both cabbages as thinly as possible.
Step 2: Discard any large tough cabbage ribs.
Step 3: You’ll have 12 to 14 cups.
Step 4: Use a vegetable peeler to thinly shave the carrots into pieces about 2 inches long.
Step 5: Put the mayonnaise, half-and-half, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and paprika into a large bowl; mix well.
Step 6: Add the cabbages and carrots.
Step 7: Toss to coat the cabbage well with the dressing.
Step 8: Taste and season with more salt if desired.
Step 9: Refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
Step 10: Serve very cold.