Red Cabbage and Apple Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette


I’ve been holding out on you. I’ve been making this light, crisp cabbage salad all summer, thinking I’d already shared it here…but I hadn’t. I do hope you’ll forgive my lapse, and take the time to try it out now.

Thankfully, it is prime season in the Midwest for both local cabbage and apples, so get to your farmer’s market and stock up now, so you can make this salad and brighten up a blustery Fall day. I most recently whipped up this salad for my friend Emily. You can call her Captain Badass…and I’ll tell you why.

Emily is the leader of the amazing DetermiNation Team at the American Cancer Society. I have the privilege of working alongside Emily every day, and her 100% positive and encouraging attitude are enough to make you want to hang out with her every chance you get. She is the one who talked me into writing this blog in the first place, so yeah – she’s pretty cool. One day last winter, she invited me to join her for lunch to discuss marketing opportunities for DetermiNation with one of her committee members. Somehow, in the course of that fateful lunch I’d been convinced to run the half-marathon…and I “hated” running, and hadn’t run in years at that point. So much has changed, and so many good things and great people are in my life because of Captain Badass.

The ladies of DetermiNation: Sarah, Caitlin, Emily and me before Emily swam the Big Shoulders 5K in Lake Michigan.

Emily has earned the moniker of Captain Badass. Before she joined the American Cancer Society staff, Emily spent a couple years kicking-cancer’s ass, and getting a titanium implant in her leg to boot. Defeating bone cancer is no mean feat, and while I didn’t know Emily at the time, I can imagine that she beat cancer with the same positive outlook and determination that she has today.

The titanium implant means that Emily can’t participate in impact sports like running and biking. But spending all her time with endurance athletes gave Emily the itch to take on a big goal and swim the Big Shoulders 5K swim in Lake Michigan this summer. Captain Badass trained all summer, swimming mile after mile in Lake Michigan to prepare, and on a cold, rainy day, we were there to cheer her on to the finish line, and she finished it like the CHAMPION she is.

A week before the Chicago Marathon (the DetermiNation Team’s largest event with 650 charity athletes) Emily hit a speed bump. Dealing with pain in her leg, she went to the doctor and learned that the Titanium in her leg had cracked and needed to be replaced immediately. But did Captain Badass crack?! Hell, no! She sent emails out to committee members, volunteers and staff assuring us all that everything was in hand for the team to takeover her responsibilities and give the athletes an amazing marathon day experience…and it was an incredible day. You can see why we love this lady, right?!

Emily’s surgery went well, and she’s on the mend at home for a few weeks, which brings me to this salad. Emily put the call out that she was going to need help with food while she was recuperating, and as you can imagine reservations to to get on the Captain Badass Dinner Service Schedule have booked quickly! I took my turn this week, and brought my “A Game” for the Captain…my favorite roasted chipotle delicata squash tacos and this cabbage salad, along with a few of my homemade granola bars for snacking. I think Emily enjoyed the meal, but honestly, I was thrilled to get to spend another inspiring evening with the Captain.

Who’s the Captain Badass in your life, always ready to cheer you on? What’s your favorite way to toss up some slaw? Share your inspiration in the comments below…

Red Cabbage and Apple Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette
Serves 3-4

1/4 head of red cabbage, shredded fine on a mandoline
1 crisp apple, sliced thin on the mandoline, then sliced into matchsticks
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion.
1 1/2 T Tangerine Balsamic (from Old Town Oil)*
1 1/2 T Blood Orange Olive Oil (from Old Town Oil)*
1 T wholegrain mustard (Mustard Girl is my local favorite)
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
pinch of salt

  1. Hold the 1/4 head of cabbage from the stem end and shred the red cabbage using the fine-slicing blade on a mandoline, or cut into thin ribbons with a knife. Toss into a mixing bowl. Slice the apple into thin circles using the same blade on the mandoline. Rotate the apple each time you get to the core, to slice the next side. Stack the sliced apples into a few neat little piles and slice them into matchsticks. Toss the apples in the bowl. Thinly slice a little red onion and toss into the bowl.
  2. Pour the mustard, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to emulsify into a vinaigrette. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables and use tongs to gently toss the salad, coating all the veggies with the dressing. Serve.

*If you do not have the good fortune to live near Old Town Oil, by all means order from their online store. Their oils and vinegars are an amazing value, and the folks that run the shop are the nicest people – support them! Alternately, you can use the juice of half a tangerine in the vinaigrette, with just a splash of a good balsamic and use regular olive oil – it will still be a bright, citrusy vinaigrette.

12 thoughts on “Red Cabbage and Apple Salad with Tangerine Vinaigrette

  1. Jenn- what a beautiful entry this is, and how amazing Captain Badass is and may she have a speedy recovery after her surgery, and continue her strong destiny of Captain Badass! Thanks for sharing this heartfelt and inspirational story along with a most delicious recipe, you are a treasure!

    • Thanks, Jennifer! Emily is an inspiration to so many of us who work and volunteer for ACS – couldn’t ask for a better leader!

      And you know I love highlighting the awesomeness of Mustard Girl every chance I get! Keep up the good mustard makin’!

  2. Can I just frame this post somewhere? ThAnk you for writing such an awesome blog – words can’t describe the support all of you have given me. And on that note, I think I will go heat up some leftover squash to have on that amazing slaw!

  3. OH NO! I have envied the brand of vinegar you use…it’s not sold in Vancouver (that I have found – and yes I have checked their website). But now you’re adding some delicious oil into the mix of what I can’t get my hands on! I admit I don’t live in a boutique part of the city where these types of things are much more likely to exist, but I have never EVER seen a flavoured olive oil!!!!!!! AAHHH what can I use in place of these yummy fixin’s?? I will have to keep my eyes out and do some searching…In the meantime, do you think that squeezing my own orange or tangerine juice into the not-as-fun dressing I will have to make would work alright? Boo, I wish I could live in Chicago, too! You make me hungry.

    And yes, I agree – a lovely post!

    • Yeah, I am VERY lucky to live in a great city for niche foods, Teresa! I would bet that there’s a oil/vinegar shop somewhere in Vancouver, and at the very least you could find a good aged balsamic – that’s the main staple I recommend having in the cupboard – it’s a whole other thing than grocery store “balsamics.” And not to worry, the dressing is nearly as good when you just use the juice of half a tangerine in place of the flavored vinegar/oil and add a splash of balsamic- if you wanted to intensify the citrus, you could even reduce some tangerine juice in a pan to give it a stronger citrus flavor.

  4. Yes, I keep a good balsamic in the cupboard (the sweeter the better for me – grocery store stock is terrible, I agree). Actually, tbh, I go through A LOT of balsamic and good olive oil and sometimes can’t keep up with my demand. And I always chuck a splash of balsamic into a tomato sauce to sweeten and intensify, too, so yum. I go through so much that I’ll go to whip up a quick dressing and I’m out of what I need half the time! Right now I’m all about fig balsamic – it’s from Italy but I can’t remember the brand name off hand. But the Old Town oil sounds out of this world! We have a terrific public market in the city, but it’s a bit of a drive for me and I don’t make it out there more than a few times a year – I am sure there’d be a shop that would carry fine bottles of perfection (it’s the flavoured oil that I’d like to get my sticky paws on!). Reducing is a terrific idea – I’ll do that with the juice for sure. I’ll letcha know how it goes.

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