These days walks to the post office or down to the beach start with layers upon layers of clothing and a briskness in each step. The sky is a faded blue and barely streaked with a few white clouds, the air feels clean, crisp, and cold. There are still trees holding tightly to their leaves, all shades of deep red, brilliant orange, bright yellow and even a few green ones still left; knowing that the first strong wind and rain storm to pass through is coming soon and will tear them from their worn out branches.
As I was preparing this salad, it reminded me exactly of my walks from these recent days. Studded with orange form the carrots, reds and greens from the peppers, and yellow green from the cabbage. Even though I usually crave warming foods this season, this salad was welcome if only for it’s beautiful colors. It even tasted of the crispness in the air, if you can image.
It’s not very often that I make salads with an Asian inspired dressing, but cabbage seems to beg to be dressed with all things sesame, soy, and vinegar. It comes together pretty quickly once everything has been chopped and if you have a food processor it makes the task of shredding even quicker.
Asian Cabbage Salad / serves 6-8
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant New Classics
This salad is still great the next day, but it’s not quite as pretty because the cabbage begins to soak up lots of the dressing and sort of slumps over. I would however recommend giving it at least 30 minutes to really soak in the dressing before serving if you can.
4 cups grated savoy or napa cabbage
2 cups peeled and grated carrots (about 2 large carrots)
4-5 fresh green and red chilis (use mild and hot varieties), seeded and minced
1 cup diced shallots
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
roughly chopped peanuts or almonds for topping(optional)
2 tablespoons vegetable or other neutral oil
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
3 tablespoons rice vinegar, or more to taste
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon mirin or dry sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey or sugar, or to taste
pinch of salt
Place the cabbage, carrots, peppers, shallots, garlic, and cilantro in a large bowl (make sure it’s large enough that you can toss everything without spilling everywhere).
In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the cabbage mixture and toss thoroughly. Taste and and more salt or vinegar if needed. Serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.