Make Ahead – Coleslaw that keeps is a coleslaw recipe that stays fresh in your refrigerator for a couple of weeks. This vinegar-based dressing just tastes better and better.
You might think that coleslaw is just a rather mundane side affair that you just take for granted but wouldn’t miss much if it wasn’t there. But, it wasn’t always this way. In fact, going far back in time to the Roman Empire, the ancient Romans served up what must have been a tasty dish of cabbage, eggs, vinegar, and spices. You can read more about the history of coleslaw by clicking here.
The Name Coleslaw Comes from the Dutch
The Dutch, who formed settlements up and down the Hudson River and founded New York State, grew a lot of cabbage and had to find something to do with it. They shredded the cabbage and made a salad out of it which was called koosla – kool is the Dutch word for cabbage and sla means salad. A recipe in The Sensible Cook: Dutch Foodways in the Old and New World, made by the Dutch landlady of the author in 1770, uses thin slivers of cabbage combined with melted butter, oil, and vinegar. You can actually buy this fascinating book from Amazon and make some traditional Dutch recipes.
By my own tastings — and hoo boy, have I eaten a lot of coleslaw this summer — there are a lot of ways where modern-day coleslaw goes wrong. Often, it is soppy with such a heavy helping of dressing that the cabbage is just swimming in the sauce rather than being allowed to absorb it and mellow into a cohesively-flavored dish. The bottom line is that coleslaw made with too much mayonnaise dressing does not keep and definitely does not get better with age.
Play with Your Cabbage
The average supermarket has several varieties of cabbage besides the classic green, which is a dense cabbage and actually white inside. They include the rounded Savoy, the featherweight Napa, and the red varieties. Here’s a slideshow showing fifteen – yes fifteen! – kinds of cabbage. When you’re looking to step up your next slaw, try a different type of cabbage, or mix a couple of varieties.
Coleslaw that Keeps – It Will Stay Fresh
Coleslaw made without mayonnaise, like my easy-to-prepare recipe below, will give you a coleslaw that is crunchy and bright with flavors. You can refrigerate it and it will stay fresh for a couple of weeks. What’s more, with its vinegar-based dressing, the longer it sits, it just tastes better and better. You no longer have to settle for boring coleslaw that doesn’t last.
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Cole Slaw that Keeps
- 2 pounds cabbage shredded
- 1/2 cup chopped red or green pepper
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup sugar
Cole Slaw Dressing
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup salad oil
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- Shred or chop cabbage, onions, and peppers. Sprinkle sugar on top. Combine dressing ingredient and bring to boil Toss dressing with cabbage mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours. Slaw will keep for weeks without losing its freshness.