Mayonnaise tends to bring out strong feelings in people, both for and against. So if you happen to sidle into your next cookout with a mayo-based slaw, you run the risk of creating unintended division in the party ranks. I don’t hate mayo, but I do think it tends to weigh down slaws. Especially in summer, I prefer something lighter with more zip.
You can make slaws with almost any fruit or vegetable, although cabbage is a staple. A few tips:
- To shred cabbage, divide the head into quarters and cut out the core. Remove a few leaves at a time to form a stack and then slice those to form thin strips. You can also use your food processor, of course.
- Not all recipes call for it, but if you’d like to help the cabbage wilt a bit and release extra moisture — not to mention add flavor — you can salt the cabbage. Place the shredded leaves in a colander, generously salt and let them drain in the sink or a large bowl for 20 to 30 minutes. Squeeze out the extra liquid and proceed with your recipe.
- Almost any slaw will benefit from being made in advance, at least a day and often more. Just think about all the ingredients and hold back on adding any that might suffer from longer storage — fresh herbs, for instance.
- Another make-ahead option for recipes that use more of a dressing is to make that in advance and toss it with the salad later. Cabbage and other vegetables can be prepped ahead of time, too.
Now, on to the mayo-free recipes. Here are six great ones from our archives:
Spicy Tahini Slaw. The creaminess comes from tahini instead of mayo. Prepackaged cabbage mix makes this super-quick, but you can, of course, put together your own.
North Carolina Piedmont Slaw. This slaw is dressed with what is essentially a homemade barbecue sauce. Stay away from the bottled stuff, since you can’t control what’s in there.
Asian Kohlrabi Slaw. If you’ve never tried kohlrabi raw — or at all — here’s your chance. The dish is a wonderful side, but there are also suggestions for how to turn it into a main meal.
Spicy Ruby Slaw. The color is vivid, thanks to the red cabbage, and so is the flavor, thanks to lots of fresh ginger.
Cabbage Slaw With Orange-Pumpkin Seed Dressing. A reminder that it’s okay to put something crunchy in your slaw. Here, it’s pumpkin seeds. Other possibilities: nuts, corn nuts (roasted or fried kernels that are downright addictive) or even pomegranate seeds.
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