Crunchy red cabbage and delicious wintry spices combine in this gorgeously vibrant raw vegan salad that will brighten any plate.
January may not seem like the most natural time of year for salads. When the days are short and the weather is cold, I think most people, myself included, prefer hearty, warming fare. But raw vegetables are good for you any time of year, and crisp seasonal veg, lightly dressed with something zingy, can brighten up a plate on even the darkest days of winter.
Spice is nice
The dressing for this gorgeously vibrant red cabbage salad has a slightly unlikely inspiration. First, let me show you my spice rack.
Before you ask, yes, I do use all of these. Some more regularly than others – those tend to be the ones on the bottom shelf. Top shelf is refills and less frequently used items. And the middle is everything else.
Sweet scent of besamim
Towards the end of last year, DH bought me a stunning contemporary havdalah* set for my birthday. Naturally, I raided the spice rack to fill up the besamim container with suitably fragrant spices. I added cloves, cinnamon stick, nutmegs, coriander seeds and cardamom, and then, just as I was about to close the cupboard, my eye alighted on one of the rarely-used top shelf jars.
I had to get the steps out to reach it, but a few lightly crushed juniper berries soon also made their way into the new besamim pot.
Roll on Saturday evening and the most gorgeous aroma greeted us during the havdalah service! The juniper and coriander especially provided a gloriously uplifting, spicy, wintry scent. Wonderful.
Shortly afterwards, we received a red cabbage in our organic veg box and it struck me that those wonderful winter spices would work fabulously alongside its hearty, mustardy flavours. A bit of tinkering with quantities, dipping and tasting, and this lovely crunchy red cabbage slaw was the happy result.
You do need to slice everything finely for this recipe, so if you haven’t sharpened your knives for a while, now’s the time. It’s definitely worth it – crunchy shredded red cabbage, tangy leeks, peppery radishes and sweet-tart dried cranberries would be yummy any day of the week, but the super-charged spicy dressing makes this over-the-top delicious. See those photos? I ate about half of what you can see straight after I took them. And I’d already had my lunch. So moreish!
This colourful salad definitely brightened up a winter’s meal here. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
Serves 6 as a side dish.
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Red cabbage slaw with zingy winter dressing
For the dressing
- 5-6 juniper berries
- 0.5 tsp ground coriander
- pinch salt
- pinch ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp mild olive oil
- 2 tsp white wine vinegar
For the salad
- 1/2 red cabbage (approx. 225g)
- 1 leek (approx. 115g)
- 10-12 small/medium radishes (approx. 100g)
- 80-100 g dried cranberries
First make the dressing: Crush/grind the juniper, coriander, salt and pepper in a pestle and mortar, then whisk in the oil, followed by the vinegar. Set aside.
Remove any tough outer leaves from the red cabbage and cut out the core. Shred the rest finely and place in a bowl.
Trim and clean the leek. Slice finely - as thinly as possible. Add to the red cabbage.
Wash the radishes and cut off the ends. Halve, then slice thinly. Add to the bowl with the cabbage and leek.
Finally, add the dried cranberries. Pour over the dressing and toss everything well together so that it is thoroughly mixed and everything is coated with the dressing.
If possible, leave to stand for 20-30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to mingle.
If you prefer a creamier slaw, add a dollop of mayonnaise or natural yogurt along with the dressing.
* havdalah is a short ceremony which marks the end of Shabbat (the Jewish sabbath) and the start of the new week. It involves a multi-wicked candle, wine or grape juice (or other beverage), and a jar of sweet scented spices. It’s one of my favourite Jewish rituals, and you can read more about it here.