Friday, May 24, 2019

Lime & Blistered Peanut Coleslaw

While I'll never deny the merits of a mayonnaise-based coleslaw, there's something wonderfully summertime refreshing about the vinaigrette-based variant. I love how the sharp tang of acid juxtaposes with the earthy, cruciferous veggies; their stout shredded texture holding up beautifully for picnic season.

The first time I made this Lime & Blistered Peanut Coleslaw, I enjoyed the flavors but wasn't thrilled with the composition. The recipe emphasized the necessity of finely shredded matchstick cabbage, which I didn't have the patience for—as a result, the delicate lime, honey and olive oil dressing felt too flimsy for my thick cabbage stalks. This time, I blended the dressing ingredients with the cilantro and jalapeno, plus some garlic, which produced a thick, salsa verde-like consistency robust enough to to match my cruciferous trunks (and saved me ample dicing and de-stemming time).

If you have the time and energy to finely chop a head of cabbage and the dexterity to navigate a Mandoline to shred your carrots, I applaud you! If not, this recipe is primed for a Trader Joe's hack. I used a combination of their shredded cabbage and carrot mix and "Cruciferous Crunch", which added slivered kale, Brussel sprouts, and broccoli to the mix. The flavor explosion of local farmers market or tiny heirloom tomatoes can make a world of difference here, as do the blistered peanuts—don't be shy about toasting them until the edges burn black. They make a fabulous foil to the coleslaw's acidic coat.

I added shelled hemp seeds too—optional, but a great way to add some protein to the salad and a nutty, crunchy pop. (To elevate to a main, serve the coleslaw with Heidi's Cumin-spiked Tofu).

If you go the "hack" route, the salad can be assembled in just minutes—the only thing you need to chop are the tomatoes into halves. Even better is how long it will hold up. I enjoyed the coleslaw all week long for lunch, and it never turned soggy. Simple and agreeable: the temperament of a true summertime salad.

Lime & Blistered Peanut Coleslaw (adapted from 101 Cookbooks)
Serves 6 as a side

18-20 oz shredded cabbage, carrots, Brussel sprouts, kale, and/or broccoli
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup unsalted raw peanuts
3 large or 4 small jalapeno peppers, seeds and stems removed
1/3c lime juice + 2 tsp grated rind
2 tsp honey
2 garlic cloves
1 bunch cilantro
3-4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbsp hemp seeds (optional)

1. Blister the peanuts. In a skillet or 350F oven, roast the peanuts for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan a few times along the way until golden and blistered.
2. Make the dressing. Blend the jalapeno, lime juice and zest, honey, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, and salt together in a food processor. Taste to adjust seasonings. (If too tart, add more honey or oil).
3. Assemble the salad. Combine the shredded vegetables, halved tomatoes, and dressing in a large bowl. Fold in the blistered peanuts and hemp seeds. Add more salt, if needed.