August 7, 2011

Asian Slaw

Summer and salads...they just go together.  But sometimes I think it is easy to get in a salad rut this time of year (has anyone else out there overdosed on tomatoes yet?)  So when you make a salad that is (you think) something special, something different, something that wakes up the taste buds, is cool and refreshing, and just bursting with healthy goodness, well then that really is a salad to sing (or blog) about!  The asian flavors in the dressing drench all the colorful and crunchy vegetables in a bright and rich blanket of ginger, citrus, sesame and a little bit of heat to keep things interesting.  A beautiful salad, in every way!

I roamed the Internet looking for some recipes for Asian dressings as I was looking for something new and spunkier than the one I had been using.  I found inspiration here at Food Nouveau, an incredibly beautiful blog with some truly wonderful recipes.  I changed things up a little bit, added a little more sweetener and some citrus, and upped the peanut flavor as well.  Have we talked about me being a low-taster recently?  Although my kiddos have suggested this is just one of the many joyous aspects of getting older (aging taste buds), I've really been flavor challenged my whole life, so this, at least, has remained a constant.  I can't say the same thing about my joints, skin, and memory, unfortunately.  Where was I....?

Oh yes...a light, incredibly flavor-packed, salad full of good-for-you deliciousness!  This recipe meets my very high standards for balance between healthy and super-tasty.  The nuts and peanut butter provide some protein, the veggies are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants, the mango and citrus provide vitamin C and more anti-oxidants, and the remaining ingredients in the dressing are good for you too too--heart-healthy oils, garlic, ginger, hot pepper, etc.   You can adjust the sweetener and all the ingredients to taste.  I like using agave here as it is already a liquid and blends in perfectly with the other dressing ingredients, and since it is sweeter than sugar, you can use less of it, which is great for anyone watching their sugar intake.

 The texture contrasts will make your mouth very happy (and you'll probably burn some extra calories with all that crunching).  The crisp of the vegetables is balanced against the smooth and soft, sweet cubes of mango.  The complexity is taken up a notch with the slightly salty and crunchy nut and seed medley, the dressing is smooth and intricate, and everything is finished off with the cool final note of fresh cilantro.  As pretty as a party dress, only much tastier.

Do you have minor compulsions that you give into every now and then, that don't cost a lot, but put a smile on your face?  OK, I'll go first.  I LOVE browsing through the ethnic markets around town and exploring all the amazing variety of items.  I always find interesting, different and sometimes very exotic ingredients that I bring home...and sometimes don't have the faintest clue what to do with.  I've been trying to control myself lately as the cupboard is fairly bulging, but couldn't resist a lovely bag of toasted sesame seeds I saw the other day (Ziyad brand).  So, where have these been all my life?!!!  This is one of those purchases I have put to good use, immediately.  They became a distinctive part of the salad topper triad with the other nuts, and I've also used them on home made semolina bread (post coming very soon) with divine results.  I'm already imagining them in some sort of honey-sweetened chewy bar (maybe a later post).  They add a deep flavor and slightly exotic crunchy note to the salad, so I would strongly encourage you to use them.  If you can't find the toasted variety, plain ones will work, just toast them carefully as they brown very quickly.

This is a gorgeous salad to serve for company (as I did) as it is bursting with the amazing colors of nature and makes quite a distinctive presentation.  When served in the tall glasses, it becomes a whimsical veggie sundae!  I think it is a great way to celebrate the end of summer, but with a delightful twist.  Bring this to your next lunch or dinner party, barbecue, or any-day summer meal or event.  Not your grandma's coleslaw, but sure to become a favorite all the same!

Asian Slaw:

For the slaw:
2 heads Napa cabbage, shredded finely, thick stems discarded
1/2 head red cabbage, shredded very finely
2 bunches green onions, or about 20 small, green tops only, sliced into small rings
5 - 6 carrots, shredded
1 large red pepper (or any pepper of choice), cut into 1 to 2-inch strips
1 large or 2 medium mango, diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Layer all the ingredients in tall glasses or a large glass bowl in the order presented above.  Top with 2 tablespoons of the nut mixture.  Serve the dressing and extra nut mix on the side.

For the dressing:
1 small thai chili or jalapeno pepper, diced small, 1 teaspoon
4 - 5 tablespoons lite soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons almond oil, peanut oil or olive oil (I used almond)
1 tablespoon hot sesame oil, or regular sesame oil (I used hot)
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (less or more to taste)
1 small clove garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/4 cup agave, sugar or sweetener of choice, to taste
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice or orange juice

Pulse all of the dressing ingredients in a small food processor until smooth.  Taste and adjust flavors to your liking.  This is a thin, runny dressing.  For a thicker dressing, use more peanut butter and less citrus juice.  Yields about 1 1/4 cup dressing.

For the nut topping:
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds

Toast the sunflower seeds and almonds very carefully in the oven or in a skillet on the stove.  Watch VERY carefully as they can burn very easily.  Remove from heat before they are quite done as they will continue to brown once off or out of the heat.  If you are using regular sesame seeds, toast those separately as they will toast much more quickly than the nuts.  Add the sesame seeds and the nuts to a small bowl and toss to mix.


  1. A lovely slaw with an Asian flair! So colorful and appetizing.



  2. Hey Rosa! Thanks so much for coming by and for the kind comments. Hope to see you again soon!

  3. Wow! Your salad caught my eye immediately! Where's my fork? It's pure beauty, I love the colorful presentation, your photos are superb! You're like an old pro already!!

  4. What brilliant food composition! Love the colors and the asian flavors!

  5. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and leaving that sweet comment! This looks incredible! I really love all the different flavors in there, and the addition of mango is fantastic!

  6. Lovely presentation! This makes eating vegetables a happier time :P.

  7. Unique presentation, I love it!! Thanks for visiting my blog.

  8. Hey Marie! What a sweetie you are...bring your fork and I'll fix you some ;-)

    Shumaila, thanks so much for the very kind comments!

    Faith, I'm so glad you visited...I am a sucker for a ripe mango!

    Hi Divya...thank you, and glad you stopped by! I agree...I think it is nice to show off those veggies in all their beautiful glory!

    And, Mari! I appreciate your gracious words. Glad you stopped by!

    Hope you all will come back again soon!!!!!

  9. I've just been through your blog, starting with some of your early posts, and it's just filled with such goodies! It's warm and casual, with great looking recipes. Loved it! :)

  10. What a beautiful presentation and photo! You combined so many wonderful flavors and textures in your salad and I love the dressing's peanut butter and ginger highlights. Lovely post!

  11. Pia and Cathy...thank you so much for your very generous comments. They are so very much appreciated! I hope you will visit again soon!

  12. You know what? I think you make everything looks beautiful and so tempting, ahhh!

  13. Wow. Beautiful photos! Too tempting not to try.

  14. This salad looks great! Love the colours :) New here... you have a great blog!

  15. Nashira! Thank you for your lovely words. All I can say is 'ditto' as I love all of your posts and photos!

    Hi Leslie!!!! Aw shucks...too kind. I DO hope you will try the was a huge hit at a very large family gathering, even for those that said they didn't usually like veggies! Let me know what you think if you give it a try!

    Hello Chinmayie! So glad you came by! I think we are health-nut sisters, yes? I have been enjoying cruising around your blog as well. We will have to do a recipe swap and/or challenge sometime. Cheers!

  16. That is a fantastic asian slaw you made. Those cups you used are so cute and love the presentation!

  17. This slaw sounds good and I like the layered serving style!

  18. Kankana...thanks so very much for you kind words. I'm so glad you came by. Hope you will visit again soon!

    Hi Kevin! I appreciate the nice comments! Hope to see you again soon!

  19. Hello Leigh! I'm happy my blog inspired you to make such a beautiful salad! It's very colorful and perfect for summer indeed. Would be great (and impressive) to serve to company!

    I like the colorful style of your blog and the good-for-you twist you give to your recipes. I wholeheartedly agree that delicious and healthy go hand in hand! Happy cooking and keep on blogging :)

  20. Hi Leigh, thank you for leaving such a kind comment on my blog the other day. Yours is absolutely lovely! The Asian slaw looks fantastic, especially the way you layered the ingredients in the glass. Beautiful presentation and photo and yummy recipe. Looking forward to following your kitchen adventures. :-)

  21. Marie! Thanks so much for the return visit and lovely comments. I'm sure you will provide me with lots more inspiration (I'm very much looking forward to it!) Hope to see you again soon...

    Hi Karen! Thank you too for your very generous words. We should all have fun keeping track of what everyone is doing and what mischief we all come up fun sharing!

  22. The colours in this really just burst from the page! I love fresh salads like this in summer, and a good slaw, thanks!

  23. Dear Ms. Muffin, thanks so much for stopping by. Glad you appreciated the colors...I loved them as well, almost as much as eating them! ;-) Hope to see you around again soon!

  24. Trust me if all salad can look like this, I"ll be a slim and healthy girl.... It is so beautiful and delicious looking. Love it

  25. Hi (again) Reem! What a sweet comment! It really is a wonderful salad...I couldn't stop eating it!


So glad you came by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!