Spices Ginger Salad: Zero fat, if you want to skip the peanuts. (Michael Lutzky/The Washington Post)

Wednesday also means the Free Range chat, so click that link at noon and join us. (Or click earlier if you can’t make it, and leave a comment or question.) If we can’t get to your question in the allotted hour, maybe I’ll get to it in this space next week. Here’s a leftover from last week’s chat:

I received a head of cabbage from my CSA. I normally only eat cabbage in a Southern-style slaw, which is rather unhealthy, with mayo and sugar. Do you have any suggestions or recipes for a light, healthy summer slaw or salad, and one that has more of a Mediterranean flavor?

Slaw seems to come in an endless variety of permutations, not all of which include cabbage. Here at Food, for instance, we have great recipes for papaya slaw, Brussels sprouts slaw, kohlrabi slaw, asparagus slaw, daikon radish slaw and collard greens slaw, to name a few.

But that’s not much help to you, is it? Because you’ve got a big honkin’ head of cabbage that you need to turn into an edible dish.

The good news is that I did find a recipe in our archives that has a Mediterranean flavor. The not-so-good news is that it weighs in a little on the high side for fat content: 11 grams per 1-cup serving. It also calls for something called “shredded coleslaw mix,” which I think you could replicate just by adding some shredded carrot to your shredded cabbage to equal a pound.

So I’ll give you that recipe, along with two others that are very good and are lower in fat, too.

First up: a salad that has been a favorite at Spices Asian Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Cleveland Park for years. (Probably won’t use up your whole cabbage, but it’ll be a start.) Zero grams of fat if you don’t add the crushed peanut garnish, but I think just a little nutty crunch wouldn’t hurt. Next, a cabbage salad that includes chicken and contains 4 grams of fat per 1-cup serving. And finally, the less-healthful (but still delicious) Mediterranean version you asked for.

Spices Ginger Salad

4 servings

  • 2 ounces peeled, grated ginger root
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch ground ginger
  • Splash low-sodium soy sauce, plus more to taste
  • 1 small head green cabbage, cored and cut into very thin slices
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into julienne (very thin strips)
  • Store-bought pickled ginger root (to taste)
  • Finely crushed peanuts, for garnish

Whisk together the grated ginger, lime juice, sugar, ground ginger and soy sauce in a liquid measuring cup to form a dressing. Taste, and add soy sauce, if desired.

Toss together the cabbage, carrot and a generous amount of the pickled ginger root in a medium mixing bowl.

Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and toss for at least a minute or two.

Scatter some finely crushed peanuts over the salad. Serve immediately.

(Michael Temchine for The Washington Post)

Makes about 10 cups

MAKE AHEAD: The chicken and vegetables can be prepared a day in advance and refrigerated in separate containers or resealable plastic food storage bags. Add the mint, peanuts, fried shallots and their cooking oil and the dressing just before serving, or serve the dressing on the side.

  • 2 or 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 3/4 to 1 pound total)
  • 1 head green cabbage (outer leaves removed), cored and cut into shreds
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 medium red onion, cut in half, then into very thin slices
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1 or 2 limes (2 tablespoons)
  • 1 bunch (5 or 6 stems) mint or Vietnamese coriander
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium shallots, cut into thin slices, for garnish
  • Handful of roasted unsalted peanuts, toasted and crushed, for garnish (see NOTE)
  • About 1 cup Nuoc Cham, or to taste (see related recipe)

Place the chicken breasts in a medium saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover the saucepan and remove from the heat. Let sit, covered, for 25 to 30 minutes.

Remove the chicken and let it cool completely, then tear into randomly sized shreds. (If desired, reserve the cooking liquid to make chicken broth for another use.)

Meanwhile, combine the cabbage and the tablespoon of salt in a large bowl, tossing to coat evenly. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature, then squeeze out any excess moisture.

While the cabbage is being salted, place the onion in a medium bowl and sprinkle liberally with salt. Let sit for 15 minutes or more at room temperature, then rinse 2 or 3 times to wash away the salt. Squeeze out any excess moisture.

Combine the salted cabbage and onion in a large bowl. Add the lime juice and toss to mix well, then add the mint or Vietnamese coriander and the shredded chicken, tossing to incorporate.

Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium to medium-low heat. Add the shallots; cook for a few minutes. Once they begin to turn golden, remove from the heat.

Top the tossed salad with the fried shallots, a bit of the shallot oil and the toasted, crushed peanuts. Dress the salad just before serving or serve the dressing on the side.

NOTE: Toast the nuts in a small, dry skillet over medium heat for about 4 minutes, stirring or shaking the skillet often, until they become fragrant.

From Washington writer Julie Wan.

Mediterranean Coleslaw

Makes 8 cups

This slaw is Greco-Nicoise. In addition to being a required ingredient in nicoise salad, French beans take the place of salad greens nicely because they provide a pleasant, colorful crunch and they don't wilt. Be careful about adding salt; the olives and feta cheese have plenty already.

Makes 8 cups

  • 1/2 pound trimmed French beans, cut in half
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 pound shredded coleslaw mix
  • 1 pint halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup bottled balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably Greek

Place the beans in a resealable food storage bag with the salt. Seal the bag three-quarters of the way and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Rinse the beans in cold water until they are cool and place them in a large bowl. Add the coleslaw mix, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, lemon juice, vinaigrette, thyme and oregano, and toss together well. Transfer to a resealable food storage container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Adapted from chef and former restaurateur David Hagedorn.