Everyday Gourmet

Summer’s sweet spot

July 7, 2011

By Kim Dannies

We are in the cooking sweet spot, where that special kind of satisfaction that cooking outside on a hot summer night affords. Now that we are on high BBQ alert, it’s time to freshen up the traditional accompaniment to sauce slathered meat: coleslaw.

I like to start with a variety of cabbage heads such as Chinese, Savoy, and Napa; they taste far fresher than pre-packaged green cabbage and the variety of textures guarantees a lively salad. Add colorful radicchio, shredded carrot, tart green apple, crunchy ramen noodles, and slivered almonds, and you’ve got a party on a platter.

That reminds me. Try mixing the salad and dressing just before mealtime and plating the coleslaw on a large platter – it is stunning, and will take a drippy basic to a new level of culinary sophistication.

Coleslaw with a twist

Choose small heads of Chinese, Napa, Savoy cabbage, and Radicchio. Peel off outer layer and discard. Slice each head in half and remove tough core. Thinly slice each half-moon cabbage into ribbon-thin cuts. Combine cabbage in a large prep bowl. Shred 2 to 3 large carrots and add to the mix (prepare one day ahead, seal in zip-lock bags).

Cut 1 or 2 green apples into a small dice and toss with the mix. Toast 4 to 6 ounces of slivered almonds. Crumble 1 to 2 packages of ramen noodles. Just before serving, add the desired amounts of apple, nuts, and ramen. Using tongs, fold in a cup of the dressing. Judge how much dressing you like, conservatively adding as you go. Turn coleslaw onto a large serving platter and sprinkle with fresh chive or mint. Serves 10 to 20, depending on preparation amount.

Creamy ginger dressing

This is a fun semi-homemade dressing. In a small processor chop 2 garlic cloves and 3, ¼-disks of fresh ginger. Add the zest of one lemon and mince. Add 1, 8-ounce jar of Marie’s coleslaw. Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice. Mix well and adjust for taste with salt and pepper. If you have poppy, celery, or mustard seeds, toss in a generous pinch.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France.  She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters who come and go. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to