Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just Winging It: Simple Coleslaw

Every Sunday, I do some prep work in the kitchen that will make my life easier during the coming workweek. I usually boil some eggs for my breakfasts, chop up veggies for my lunches, and sometimes I'll even create some kind of side dish to speed up dinner preparations. Recently, I have been making coleslaw as an easy and delicious complement to absolutely any main dish: chicken, roasted vegetables, sandwiches, burgers, sausage, refried beans, casserole…the possibilities are endless. I haven’t found anything with which it hasn’t paired well. It is so easy to come home from work, pick any combination of protein and vegetable, and know that I already have a third element prepared that will round out the meal. Ah, simplicity.

I used to base my coleslaw on a more complicated recipe that was delicious, but called for ingredients that I did not always have on hand (such as limes). Although I’m sure I wasn’t the first to create it, this recipe was born out of a need to improvise when the grocery store was closed. It is so simple, that I was surprised to find it tastes even better than my old recipe. I have stuck with it ever since, and have even served it alongside Jeff's roasted chicken at a dinner party. I'll never get tired of it. It is that good.

The Recipe (Sort Of):

Our coleslaw begins at the market, where a vegetable farming family sells many of its offerings all chopped up and ready to go. It is the closest thing to a convenience item that you will find at the farmers market, at least among my preferred vendors (after all, there is a sketchy man who somehow sells Oceanspray Craisins). Although some people might think that shopping at the market automatically means that they are doubling their prep time in the kitchen, these fine vendors would prove those people wrong. They are brilliant, and I let them know every Saturday how much easier they have made my life. Anyway, since I am preparing coleslaw for several suppers and a few lunches, I am making a double batch. (By the way, the purple cabbage tastes the same as the white; I just like the splash of colour. Food should be a visual experience as well as a gustatory one.)

I also like adding green onions to the mix, because they bring in a lot of flavour. I would say I use six or eight bunches for a double batch of coleslaw. As you can see, I chopped them pretty roughly because Jeff and I are both really big fans and don’t mind large pieces. However, if I were unsure of my guests’ tastes, I might chop them more finely and/or use less.

Onto the dressing. It contains only four ingredients, and you already have all of them: mayonnaise, yellow mustard, salt, and pepper. That’s it!

I only use the best, baby. None of that low-fat or miracle crap in this household! (If you ask me, the only thing that's a miracle about Miracle Whip is that some people manage to keep it down! *Rimshot*)

Er…I’m not sure that there exists a Hellmann’s of the ballpark mustard world. Grocery store brand is just fine.

I can’t specify the amounts or proportions of mayonnaise and mustard I use to make the dressing; really, I just throw some in a bowl, add salt and pepper, taste, and adjust as necessary. However, do add a lot more mayonnaise than you do mustard. You definitely do not want your dressing to be "mustardy"; the mustard should be approached as a simple flavouring agent, not as an equal to the glorious mayonnaise. Just keep tweaking until you think it tastes good, and then add in your cabbage, carrots, and green onions, and start folding.

Once everything is nicely incorporated, taste to make sure there is enough dressing. I happened to find that I underestimated how much I would need for the double batch; that's not a problem, I just threw in a bit more of the ingredients (see below, I swear it isn't an egg) and stirred again. It is impossible to ruin this coleslaw.

Although you can serve the coleslaw immediately with excellent results, I find it tastes better after it sits in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. It becomes more and more delicious as the week goes on. All you have to do is stir it a couple of times to redistribute the dressing, and, voilà, you have the perfect side dish all ready to serve!

Seriously, now: who wouldn’t want to come home to this?


  1. I seriously thought that WAS an egg! I was all, an egg? In coleslaw? Muh?

  2. I know! It really wasn't intentional.

  3. You should use the "Just Winging It" title for an upcoming post about chicken wings!

  4. How funny, Jeff made wings yesterday! You're right, great idea. :)

  5. I just happen to have a bunch of red cabbage I need to do something with... Perfect timing!

  6. Awesome! Let me know how it turns out. I've never thought of adding red cabbage before; that would make it even more interesting. Thanks love! xo

  7. Haha, I totally know what that red cabbage was for...icing!

  8. You know it! Bahaha! Wanna come over for some coleslaw and purple cupcakes?