Red Cabbage Coleslaw

Red Cabbage Coleslaw

Coleslaw, seemingly an American staple salad-condiment, is actually from Holland. “Koolsla,” pronounced in Dutch exactly like coleslaw (double “o” in Dutch sounds like the long O in “rose”), is the shortened form of “koolsalade” -- cabbage salad.

Red cabbage produces a spectacular, if unorthodox, coleslaw. The dark, purplish color of the raw cabbage will brighten to deep red due to the acidity of the vinegar (the red-violet anthocyanins that give the cabbage its color are like pH indicators, changing color with acidity or alkalinity).

This dish serves well on a holiday buffet table. The recipe serves six to eight as a side dish, with easily stored left-overs.

1 medium head of red cabbage or 3/4 of a medium-large head
1 medium-large carrot
2 tablespoons mayonnaise (“real” preferred)
1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
6 tablespoons white vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Discard any tough outer cabbage leaves. Cut off cabbage’s bottom inch. Cut the head in half through the stem and cut it again into quarters. Set a quarter on a board and cut away the core and any big ribs on the exterior.

Shred cabbage finely crosswise, either with a sharp knife on a cutting board, or with a food slicer (or in a food processor fitted with a 2-millimeter slicer blade). As you shred it, place the cabbage in a very large bowl for mixing.

Peel carrot and shred it, using the coarse side of a grater or the food processor fitted with a grater blade. Add it to the cabbage.

Add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix well. It will be dry at first. Let it sit 15 or 20 minutes, mixing from time to time, until the cabbage softens and the juices increase. Taste and adjust salt, vinegar or sugar as desired.

Coleslaw is best if allowed to chill for an hour or more, or even up to several days, covered. Mix well and taste before serving and adjust salt, vinegar or sugar if needed.

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