The sunrise this morning was amazing. Crimson streaks across the bluebird sky, the Cascade Mountains nestled purple in dark shadows beyond. And now as I write this I swear I’m seeing blue skies and actual – gasp – sunlight! Can you believe it? In these dark months we better not waste these bright moments.

In a quiet celebration of this brief interlude I’m going to fire up the grill tonight, slow cook some country style ribs in my very own kahlua pork sauce and make some pulled pork sandwiches (either that or I’ll just stop by Bob’s Meats and get some sausages). Partially inspired by the sunshine, but really a reason to make one of my favorite and quickest slaws. This variety goes well with any tangy teriyaki sauce or soy-based marinated meats.

Cabbage salad, or really coleslaw, is a must have with any barbecue and most are a slimy concoction of mayonnaise and mustard. This version is light and quick. Most of the prep is in cutting the vegetables, the rest is in the wait. Although you can eat it immediately, the cabbage will soften as it sits and the flavors will meld together.

It’s best to make at least an hour or two ahead to give the slaw enough time to soften and meld. Add the sesame seeds before serving to retain their crunch. You can easily adjust this slaw to meet any flavors in your accompanying dishes. Going for a lemon tandoori chicken? Try adding some Meyer lemon zest and a lemon juice instead of vinegar to the dressing and peanut oil instead of sesame oil. Aiming more for a Thai flavor in your curried shish kabobs? Mix some mint in with the cilantro and leave out the sesame seeds, try mixing in a little tahini and olive oil instead of sesame oil. Want more of a Korean flavor? Try making a batch of kimchi style slaw with radish, hot chili powder, ginger, fermented bean paste and garlic.

A simple, crunchy and light salad to match all of your grilling ambitions.

1/2 green cabbage, thinly shredded
2 carrots, peeled and julienned
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1 T ginger, minced
3 T sesame oil
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 T black sesame seeds

In a large bowl, toss cabbage, carrots and scallions. In a small bowl mix ginger, oil, vinegar and pepper flakes. Add dressing to cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste. Cover lightly and let sit for 1-2 hours. Before serving toss with cilantro and sesame seeds. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

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