Spicy Thai Peanut Coleslaw

Midweek meals can sometimes feel like a real grind during busy weeks, when the workday is long, and errands need to be run on the way home. Last Wednesday was just such a night, and I knew that we’d toss together a quick omelet for dinner, but I was stumped for a side dish. When I was rummaging through the crisper, I found half a head of cabbage and a bit of cilantro – and this salad came together quickly from there.

Cabbage is a vegetable that sometimes gets overlooked, and doesn’t often take the stage as the star ingredient. I really love cabbage – as a slaw, sauteed and topped with eggs, in saurkraut – I love it all. The first cabbages of the summer season are something special, though. Bright green in color, and with crisp, tender leaves, summer cabbages beg to be dressed and eaten raw.

This slaw is a perfect summer salad, with a bit of Thai flavor in the spicy peanut vinaigrette dressing. I’m a big fan of Thai sauces, and particularly love a good peanut sauce. This dressing has all the flavor of satay sauce, with a much healthier application. The peanuts add a nice crunch to the salad, and a bit of protein. Serve this up as a side dish or as the main course – give it a try!

Asian Slaw with Peanut Vinaigrette
Serves 3 as a side dish

1/2 head green cabbage, sliced very thin and tough core removed
1 red bell pepper, seeded, sliced thin
2 green onions, sliced thin
1/2 cup peanuts, toasted
1 cup snow peas, sliced thin
big handful of cilantro, chopped

Vinaigrette
3 T fresh ground peanut butter
1 1/2 T brown rice vinegar, or to taste
squeeze of honey
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp wheat free tamari, or to taste
1 clove garlic, finely minced
a bit of siracha for heat
1 tsp water, to loosen the dressing
few drops of lime juice, for acidity

  1. Make the vinaigrette: Whisk together all of the ingredients, squeezing in the honey and lime juice last, then whisking in a bit of water to loosen the dressing up, if needed. Taste, and adjust the flavors as needed, adding more honey, tamari, siracha or vinegar as needed to balance the flavors. If the dressing is really thick, dribble a bit of water in, to thin it out a bit.
  2. Combine all the veggies and cilantro in a large bowl and toss to combine. Pour the vinaigrette over, and toss to coat evenly. Add the toasted peanuts and toss again, and then serve immediately.
  3. Note: This salad will not keep well – the cabbage will get wilty, so if you want to save some for the next day, reserve some un-dressed veggies and some of the vinaigrette and make a fresh bowl of slaw.