Don't you love when your kids come downstairs in the morning dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, proclaiming, "It's spring now!" but it's only 37º outside?!! Oh, warm, sunny, made-for-shorts-or-at least-no-winter-jacket-days, where are you?!! I don't know about you, but around here we're all a little desperate for easy times in the outdoors--soccer games, picnics, long walks, outdoor sidewalk eating, gardening, backyard barbecues...and speaking of barbecues (notice my seamless transition here-ha!) this Thai Slaw, with all its crunchy fresh vegetables, spicy dressing and slew of roasted chopped peanuts, would be a perfect addition to any of your outdoor shindigs. Why, you ask, when it's still pretty frigid around here and they're forecasting more cold days, am I sharing this now?! Because I've been eyeing this recipe for ages and I just couldn't muster up the patience to wait until the first official BBQ of the season. And though we all know that patience is a virtue, I'm so glad I have none of it because this East meets West salad is fantastic!
You know when you order a sandwich from a deli or diner and you get a little container of tasteless, shredded, overly mayonnaise-y, almost unrecognizable vegetables that generally winds up getting tossed in the garbage with no feelings of guilt? Let's just say that if you tossed this Asian-inspired version into the trash, you'd walk around feeling ashamed of yourself for a month--it's that good!! And nothing like the traditional version that has plagued sandwich eaters for generations!
Yes, it's got shredded cabbage, carrots and red peppers, but that's where all similarity to traditional slaw ends. There are chopped roasted peanuts all throughout this and for me, that's an irresistible draw! Plus, it's got amazing texture and flavor with a spicy soy and chile garlic dressing. You'll definitely be going back for seconds! And that's a good thing, because this recipe yields quite a lot which makes it great for parties. You can definitely half it if you like but in our house this was a prized leftover that my husband layered on his sandwiches or nibbled out of the container for days!
One bite and you'll instantly be transported to those carefree, grillin' summer days,--well, as long as you keep your eyes closed so as not to see the snow fluttering down outside!
Makes about 20 servings (cut the recipe in half if you don't want that much but it's great to nibble on for days and healthy too!)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
For the Dressing
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon chile garlic sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1-2 fresh serrano chiles, seeds and ribs removed, minced (leave these out or cut down if you don't want things too spicy)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used canola)
For the Salad
1 head green cabbage, cut into quarters, cored and thinly sliced (you could probably do half green and half red cabbage here too--would look even more colorful)
5 large carrots, grated (I cheated and bought a bag that had already been cut up)
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into small bite-sized pieces
1 large bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, finely chopped
3/4 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
1. To make the dressing, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chile garlic sauce, sesame oil, garlic and chiles (if using) into a small bowl or mason jar. Slowly whisk in the oil or if using a jar, cover tightly with the lid and shake well. Dressing can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored in the container in the refrigerator. Whisk or shake before using.
2. To make the Salad: Place the cabbage, carrots and peppers in a large bowl. Toss together. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat well. Add the parsley or cilantro and the scallions and toss again. Sprinkle the peanuts on top and serve.
3. You can make this 1 day ahead and store covered in the refrigerator.
Note: Recipe adapted from The Epicurious Cookbook by Tanya Wenman Steel. The original recipe calls for 1 peeled, diced cucumber but when I pulled mine out of the vegetable drawer it was rotten so I subbed in extra carrots. I also used a lot less chiles than recommended and subbed in parsley for the cilantro. Toyed around with some proportions too.