by Maria Faust
My grandma was a short-order cook during the Great Depression and for a number of years thereafter. It is said that she dazzled customers at the lunch counter with her cooking prowess and a dollop of her sharp wit. That was before my time, so my memories of her cooking are exclusive to her home kitchen, which was in a large attic apartment in the heart of south Minneapolis. To this day, when Summer temperatures spike, I think of how hot that apartment could get. She did what she could to keep her guests comfortable during summer gatherings - window shades drawn, fans running and as little use of the oven as possible.
Upon making the trek to such gatherings everyone in my family would anxiously await their favorite dishes. Mine were ANY one of her delectable slaws. Served pleasingly cold and lightly dressed, they could make one forget, if just for awhile, how hot that apartment was.
Carrots, cabbages, kohlrabi or cucumber would at times be featured alone and at other times in a supporting role. She would add bits of nuts, dried fruit, fresh apple or radish to keep you interested. Her dressings were varied, ranging from piquant vinaigrettes to several that were based on sweetened milk and vinegar.
Little did my grandma know how much her deft hand and creativity with slaw would inspire me to keep exploring its many forms. With the opportunity to lay my hands on the freshest produce of every season, grown right here and nearby, the journey just keeps unfolding. Won’t you join me?
*Note - arm yourself with a box grater, mandoline, or some such slicer/dicer. It makes slaws easier and faster!
Carrot and Bell Pepper Slaw
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup coarsely grated carrot
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch julienne strips
1 scallion (green onion), chopped fine
In a bowl whisk together the yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, and the lemon juice, add the carrot, bell pepper and the scallion, and toss the slaw until it is combined well. Season the slaw with salt and freshly ground pepper.
From: Gourmet September 1992
Spicy Coleslaw with
3 medium carrots, peeled, finely chopped
6 cups shredded green cabbage (from 1 small head)
1 red bell pepper, cut into matchstick-size strips
1 red onion, thinly sliced
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
Cook carrots in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain. Cool completely. Transfer carrots to large bowl. Add cabbage, bell pepper, onion and cilantro.
Whisk lime juice, cumin, garlic and hot pepper sauce in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper. (Cabbage mixture and dressing can be made 8 hours ahead, Cover separately; chill. Re-whisk dressing before continuing.)
Toss salad with enough dressing to coat. Season with salt and pepper; serve.
From: Bon Appetit July 2003
Carrot Slaw with Honey
1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and grated (medium holes on box grater)
1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried fruit chopped (dates, figs, raisins)
1 orange, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
3 tablespoons apple-cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons untoasted walnut oil (or olive oil)
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped chives, ( or the dark green stem of a green onion)
Combine the grated carrots, walnuts, and dried fruit in a medium serving bowl.
In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, cider vinegar and honey. Slowly whisk in the walnut oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss the carrot mixture with the vinaigrette and 2 tablespoons of the chives. Adjust the seasoning to taste. You can serve the salad immediately, but it will taste better if let to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon chives right before serving.
From: Fine Cooking magazine May 2007
Cabbage and Corn Slaw with Cilantro and Orange
1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 pound shredded green cabbage
4 ears of fresh corn, shucked, kernels cut from cob
2 medium carrots, peeled, coarsely grated
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, cored, cut into thin strips
6 medium green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Whisk orange juice concentrate, rice vinegar, and canola oil in small bowl.
Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD - dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Combine cabbage, corn, carrots, bell pepper, green onions and chopped cilantro in a large bowl.
Toss with enough dressing to just coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let stand 15 minutes to blend. Adjust if necessary and toss again.
From: Bon Appetit July 2007
* This column of good eating is brought to you by members and friends of the Winona County EDA Local Foods Committee and UM Master Gardeners. Questions or comments? Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org