Coleslaw! I’ve been making heaps of this in Summer, right now the markets here are practically overflowing with cabbages big and small. I think it’s such a versatile and economical vegetable, so easy to braise, stir-fry, roast, or serve as a salad. My only pet peeve is that it takes up so much space in the refrigerator! It doesn’t take much to make a tasty coleslaw and is certainly not rocket science so feel free to play around with it and experiment with different dressings and toppings. Making your own coleslaw from scratch beats buying pre-packaged tubs of coleslaw from the supermarket anytime! You don’t even need any special equipment except for a sharp knife. Of course, if you’re really pressed for time, you could use pre-cut bags of coleslaw vegetables, no need to feel guilty! This is a simple recipe for a coleslaw with a Middle Eastern-inspired olive oil-based dressing, I find that the flavour that both the pomegranate molasses and preserved lemon impart enhances the crisp and refreshing taste of the vegetables.
What is pomegranate molasses? It’s basically pomegranate juice that has been reduced to a thick syrup, it’s not actually molasses. Sweet and sour at the same time, with a dark reddish colour, it lends well to dressings and marinades. You can find this at international grocers or Asian supermarkets in the Middle Eastern foods section. In keeping with the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)-friendly theme, make sure to get one that is purely pomegranate juice and without preservatives or sugar added. If you so wish, Alton Brown has a recipe to make pomegranate molasses though the recipe calls for sugar, but it can be made without the sugar as well simply by simmering pomegranate juice until it thickens to a syrupy consistency. It keeps for 6 months in the refrigerator, so no worries about having to use it up in a hurry!
Preserved lemons are simply lemons soaked in brine (salted water). Sour and salty, they are great when you want to add a lemony savoury flavour to a dish with some extra umami. It can be found in Middle Eastern markets, just like the pomegranate molasses. Currently, I have store-bought preserved tiny whole lemons in glass jars thought I ought to try making my own! Epicurious has an awesome recipe for preserved lemons here. The lemons are quartered in the recipe and feature optional spices and salted lemon juice – not the same as the store-bought ones but I think it would be way tastier than commercial ones.
Coleslaw is great to make as it doesn’t involve delicate greens that don’t keep for long. Want some colour? Mix it up with red and green cabbage, plus some carrots. Add dried fruit, such as raisins, for a sweet contrast. Diced fresh fruit would go great too, such as peaches, nectarines, or apples and even grapes. In the photo below, I added a ripe nectarine that I had on hand. Add some finely chopped fresh parsley for added flavour (I love using flat-leaf parsley). No fresh herbs? Substitute with half the amount of dried herbs, but just give it some time to marinate. If you find coleslaw too crunchy and raw tasting for your liking, try sprinkling some sea salt into the bowl of cabbage after slicing and massage or toss the cabbage well. This helps to soften the cabbage, you may have to drain it if water draws out though. Coleslaw keeps very well too and can last for about 3 days in the refrigerator (though mine never sticks around for that long!) If you have family members not following the AIP and do fine with tree nuts or seeds, top their portions with chopped pecans, sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds. Toss some tinned fish into the coleslaw and get a complete meal without having to cook, or serve it on the side with juicy sausages, grilled meats/ fish. The variations are endless!
Do you enjoy coleslaw? What do you serve it with?
Ingredients (serves 2-4)
- 1/2 cabbage, finely sliced (I use a mix of red and green)
- 2-3 carrots, julienned
- 1/3 cup raisins or a whole apple/ peach/ nectarine diced into small bite-sized pieces
- 2 tbsp parsley, finely chopped (I use flat-leaf parsley, use 1 tbsp dried if fresh is unavailable)
- 1/4 preserved lemon, finely diced (Or 1 tiny preserved lemon)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
- Sea salt/ Herbamare, to taste
- Combine the sliced cabbage, carrots, raisins/ fruit and parsley in a large bowl
- If a less crunchy coleslaw is preferred, sprinkle sea salt to taste and massage the vegetables by hand and allow to sit for a while until the vegetables soften slightly, draining any pooled liquid if needed (Skip this step if you like a crisp coleslaw salad)
- In a small bowl, combine the preserved lemon, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and pomegranate molasses. Feel free to adjust the quantities of each ingredient to your liking if necessary
- Pour dressing over the coleslaw vegetable mixture and combine thoroughly
- Season to taste with sea salt or Herbamare
- Allow flavours to mingle for at least 30 minutes, if possible (or serve immediately if preferred)