Not many recipes have extended runs on the weekly dinner rotation in our house. The continual need to develop new recipes means that the favorites are sometimes overlooked for long stretches.
Exceptions arise when recipes are really easy and enjoyed by all. The schedule of a new school year and the arrival of crisp local apples always remind me of the following versatile salad recipe.
For our family, the start of a new school year is accompanied by middle and high school cross country meets. These typically result in a late dinner and not a lot of time to prepare it. I relied on the convenience and fresh taste of the following salad so many times last fall that it became an obvious recipe to pass along.
Of course, when I share a recipe, it has to have a name. Sometimes, recipes that I’ve made for years remain nameless. When someone asks what’s for dinner, I often merely describe it–“You know, that salad-sort-of-thing with the apples and salted almonds that you really love.” (This has always been my subtle way of highlighting the parts of a recipe I know my children will enjoy.)
As I pondered a name for this go-to side dish, and because apples and cabbage are cool weather staples, the name “fall slaw” came to mind. Problem was, it was almost winter. I liked the rhyming cadence of the name and couldn’t think of something better, so I simply saved the recipe for this year.
As the first cross country meet of the season approached a few weeks ago, I found myself once again adding coleslaw mix to my grocery list. (As luck would have it, the packages were buy-one-get-one-free, so we had it twice that first week!) Of course, a combination of shredded cabbage and carrots may be used, but the ease of a pre-cut bag holds its own appeal.
Despite what the name suggests, I do make this recipe throughout the winter months. To complete the meal, simply pair the hearty slaw with your choice of protein—poultry, pork tenderloin, and ham complement nicely.
The advance prep option provides convenience on busy weeknights, and the medley of flavors and textures offers variety from a basic tossed salad. The wholesome ingredients and lightly tangy dressing have proven to be a popular addition to several potluck dinners and holiday buffets, too. As I discovered with my own family, this recipe may even make a fan out of those who are certain they don’t like coleslaw.
- ¼ cup (56 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (21 grams) honey
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt and a few turns of the pepper mill
- 1 apple
- 1 (14-ounce) bag coleslaw mix*
- 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced or diced (I include any leaves)
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese**
- ⅓ cup chopped Smokehouse almonds (may substitute toasted, slivered almonds or roasted sunflower seeds)
Add the dressing ingredients to a small bowl or jar and whisk or shake until thoroughly blended and emulsified. The dressing may be prepared in advance and stored at room temperature for several hours or refrigerated.
Core and thinly slice the apple. (You may further cut into matchsticks or even dice the apple if preferred.)
Place the apple, coleslaw, celery, dried cranberries, blue cheese, and almonds in a large bowl. (If you are a particular fan of the cranberries, cheese, and/or nuts, feel free to use half a cup of these items.)
Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss to evenly coat. Enjoy immediately or cover and refrigerate for several hours. If you prefer to prep the salad more than 2-3 hours in advance, place the apples in the bottom of the salad bowl and toss with the dressing. (This will prevent browning.) Layer the remaining ingredients on top, ending with the nuts, and lightly cover. Refrigerate until ready to eat, and toss before serving. By the next day, any leftover cabbage will wilt slightly, but the slaw will still taste delicious.
- *You may substitute shredded cabbage—red, green or a mix, adding carrots if you like—instead of the bagged option. In this case, use about 6 cups total.
- **If you need the recipe to be gluten-free, check the blue cheese label and verify that it is, in fact, gluten-free. Some packages of crumbled blue cheese include wheat as an ingredient although many do not. (Initially, I debated over whether to use feta or blue cheese, but after trying blue cheese the first time, I’ve never used anything else. We think it adds a little something special to this salad. Feel free to try feta instead.)
- Additional variations: Add 3-4 strips of crisp, crumbled bacon, or turn this into an all-in-one meal by mixing in 2 cups (8-10 ounces) of chopped or shredded cooked chicken.
- Make it vegan: Substitute maple syrup or agave nectar for the honey and omit the blue cheese. In this case, tossing the salad with about 1/3 cup nutritional yeast and an extra pinch or two of salt will lend a cheesy flavor.