It kind of makes me want to scream.
Thankfully, my mother called the other day with news of a coleslaw recipe that sounded very, very out of the ordinary. It involved cilantro and lime juice, the perfect antidotes to winter. Not to mention a few staples, like carrots, and olive oil, and scallions, and a bit of sea salt. And that was it. It was meant to rest under fish tacos, but she'd found it so delicious she couldn't help making it into a dish of its own. It sounded simple and easy to say the least.
Even in the greenhouse, I find cilantro this time of year is a bit of a stretch, but truly, there are only so many ways to eat cabbage, and I am just about sick of most of them. If a few southern leaves will help ward off cabin fever, or perhaps even transport us to somewhere tropical (!) — I'm sure it's just fine by me.
The cabbage you want to use is the most delicate you can find. This time of year, we are well into the storage cabbages, but some are more feathery than others, which are more like pale rocks, and are fairly inedible raw. I prefer green cabbage, but a mixture of red and green will also do just fine. It is good to cut the whole head first into halves, and then quarters, and then remove the core while keeping the larger pieces in tact. This way, you can then lay them flat on the cutting board and slice nice, long strips. I think this makes for a much nicer slaw than grated cabbage, which tends to get very soggy very fast.
The scallions came from the greenhouse, and the carrots I simply forgot. In the end I was far too lazy to venture out for lime juice, but cider vinegar did just as well instead, and then it was time for the cilantro.
I love cilantro. Many people find it too squeaky clean or too strong, but I love the way it clears the kitchen air. It makes everything taste new and fresh, even cabbage in the midst of January, and this is a quality to be cherished as it is quite rare. I put in far more cilantro than the recipe called for—perhaps instead of the carrots, I realized later, as a swap.
All in all, it was quite a transporting dish, and we felt almost summery as we ate. Perhaps you will find yourself in Jamaica, or, if you fill your plate, maybe even Mexico.
SUMMERY WINTER COLESLAW
4 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
3/4 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons (at least!) cider vinegar or lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
sea salt to taste
Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Adjust cider vinegar and sea salt to taste. If you like you can substitute a bit of red cabbage for some of the green, and a half cup or so of grated carrots is very nice too.