Staying Cool with Coleslaw

On Saturday afternoon, the heat index in Washington, D.C., crept up to 119.

The good news is that a farmer sets up a produce stand every weekend just a few blocks away, and knowing he was there made it impossible for me to avoid going outside altogether.   I faced the afternoon heat for about twenty minutes to walk down to the stand and back.  I picked up some peaches, the last cantaloupe from a large crate, and a cabbage.  And, oh, by the time I returned to my apartment, hot and thirsty, did I have plans for that cabbage.

It’s always interesting to note how different seasons and changing temperatures make a body crave different things:  since I’ve been living my first summer in the Mid-Atlantic, I can’t get enough melons and cucumbers, ice cream, and crispy salads with tangy dressings.

When I got home and chopped into that cabbage, it was warm to the touch:  still as hot as it had been outside.  But of course, not for long…

I was inspired to make this coleslaw recipe by a delicious similar version made by my friend Kate in Missoula.  I don’t have her recipe exactly, but the basic flavor combination is the same as her scrumptious version that always knocks people’s socks off at potlucks:  cabbage, cilantro, peanuts.

If you love coleslaw, check this recipe out.   It’s simple and full of flavor.  And don’t be afraid to tinker with the dressing ingredients and proportions to your taste preferences.  The proportions I use will yield a fairly sweet, fairly tangy dressing with a good infusion of cilantro and peanut flavor in every bite.  So refreshing!

Cilantro Peanut Coleslaw

  • 3/4 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 2 carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1/3 to 1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped (I always use more cilantro because I love it!)
  • 1/2 cup lightly salted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped (you could use Spanish peanuts, too, but I’d avoid anything with too many weird flavor coatings; check the ingredients label)

Dressing (tinker to taste with any of these ingredients)

  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar (for less tang, reduce or skip this)
  • ~1/4 cup scant olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp. sugar (I ended up closer to 2 tbsp. in my most recent batch)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

I love coleslaw recipes because you can always test the dressing and easily add a little more of something if it’s not quite right.  I’ve found that a little more sugar often brings out the flavors and ups the level of refreshment…at least by my tastes.

Stay cool out there, and enjoy!

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