Monday, September 17, 2012

Mexican Inspired Cabbage Salad

Mexican inspired coleslaw by Ayala Moriel
Mexican inspired coleslaw, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
We're enjoying an Indian Summer in Vancouver, which is most welcome as summer didn't start till August this year!

So I'm taking the opportunity to share with you 3 salad recipes that I've been immensely enjoying all summer long - celebrating the flavourful fresh herbs that mark the season.

This cabbage salad was inspired by two things: the Mexican cuisine that I've been really craving since my last few visits to California. There is really nothing quite like this food when it's an authentic recipe, made from fresh seasonal ingredients. far departure from the boring jarred salsas and bags of chips...

The other important part of the inspiration was the beautiful cone-shaped cabbages I found at the farmers' market. Only one farmer grows them, and they are not only smaller in size (which is more doable for a small family of two, for instance), lighter to carry home, and are so crisp, tender and delicious that they can be easily eaten up within the week (and if not that's ok too, as they keep really well).

We've been mostly eating dinners at the beach all summer, so non-leafy salads, which keep well till dinner time (or even the next day or two, while marinating in flavours) are much preferable over tossed greens (which are also mostly air in volume and are not nearly as filling).
Cone cabbages by Ayala Moriel
Cone cabbages, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

I've made this salad with a few variations, but the best of them was when my cilantro plant came to seed and had those fresh green corianders as you can see in the picture.

1 head cone cabbage (or half a larger cabbage), finely shredded by slicing it as thin as you can get with a chef's knife
1 carrot, grated
1 sweet yellow pepper, halved and sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 sweet white onion, thinly sliced (or use scallions if you prefer)
1-2 green fresh jalapeno, sliced thinly with seeds (the seeds are the part that gives the most heat! So that's your way of controlling the heat level as well).
2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro leaf (if you have some fresh seeds growing on your plant, feel free to use them as well - simply chop them with the leaves)
1 Tbs fresh peppermint leaves (you could use spearmint, but I like the sharper taste of citrus mint or English mint in this recipe)
1 tsp Korean pepper (this is a hot pepper with the seeds removed; it has a deep, sweet flavour but not nearly as spicy as other chiles; if you can't find it you can use crushed chiles or non at all - this part of the recipe is mostly for the colour anyway).

For the dressing:
Juice from 1 lime
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp agave syrup
1-3 Tbs vegetable oil (I use grapeseed oil, but you may also use sunflower seed oil, almond oil or avocado oil for a more intense flavour).
Sea salt to taste

Prepare all the ingredient and add to one large bowl. Dress immediately (you do not need to mix the dressing ingredients separately, by the way) and let the salad marinate in the fridge until serving time - at least 1/2 hour, and up to 2 days. Makes a perfect picnic dish, alongside blanched almonds or roasted hickory smoked ones. Also goes well with vegetarian quesedillas, corn-on-the-cob, or as an additional topping for fish tacos or any other white fish dishes.

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