food, family

Pickled Slaw + Spring is Here

It has warmed up considerably here in KC over the last couple of weeks.  We couldn't be happier about this in my family.  Living in Portland, OR meant mild temperatures and rain instead of snow, so this was our first harsh winter in a couple of years.  Even though the existence of four real seasons was one of the driving factors behind our decision to move back last May, let's just say we've been reacclimated by now.

My parents live on a lake just half an hour away from us, so warm weather for us means a lot of outdoor activity and plenty of collaborative meals involving grilled meats and fresh salads.  When my mom told me she'd be making barbeque chicken and potato salad Friday, I knew just what I wanted to bring.

This coleslaw is such a great option when you want an alternative to a mayonnaise-based one.  You might now be thinking, "Why could I possibly need an alternative to a mayonnaise-based slaw?"  Trust me; I agree.  Mayonnaise is awesome.  But when one dish is already heavy with it -- i.e. potato salad -- a nice light, crunchy slaw is just the ticket.

This is really more a formula than a recipe.  Use whatever fresh, crunchy vegetables you have in addition to the cabbage.  If you prefer the hot bite of a chile to the bright spice of fresh ginger, substitute away.  I like to chop by hand because it keeps my knife-skills fresh and I actually find tedious jobs like this to be meditative.  But if you're not fond of torture, you can use a mandoline slicer or even a box grater.  Fully submerged in the pickling liquid, the vegetables will keep for a month in the fridge.  Eat this with grilled meats, on sandwiches, or straight from the jar with your fingers.

Pickled Slaw

makes 10 cups

Brine

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups white distilled vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger root
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt

Slaw

  • 1 large head Napa cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 2 carrots, scrubbed and unpeeled
  • 2 cups snap peas
  • 1/2 English cucumber, seeds scraped out and discarded

Whisk the brine ingredients together and set aside while you prepare the slaw.  Thinly slice all of the vegetables and combine in a large container; I used a 9x13 lidded glass casserole dish.  Give the brine another stir to make sure all the salt and sugar are dissolved.  Pour the brine over the vegetables and press down on the slaw to get it as far into the liquid as you can.  After an hour in the fridge, you should be able to stir the slaw and get it all submerged.  Use a slotted spoon to serve so you don't end up with a plate full of brine.  Make this at least 3 hours and up to 1 month before you plan to eat it.

Just For Fun

When my sister saw a picture of Susanna on her first boat ride of the season, she replied, "She's a different traveler than she was on that boat last year."  It's so true!  The picture on the left shows how she rolled last year.  And on the right, she's not so sure about her new summer uniform.

Happy Spring, everyone!  What are you planning to do with the warm breeze and sunshine?