Memorial Day weekend has come and gone in a blur of backyard BBQs, late nights around the fire pit, and the feeling that good things are in store for summer – good things including food…fresh food, picked-from-the-garden food, picked-from-the-sea food. Here on Aquidneck Island, we have no shortage of local farms and markets to wander through and gather fresh ingredients from, so do take advantage!
With all of this fresh, home-grown goodness, I cannot help but begin my summer salad binge. Our garden is just starting to produce the lineup of characters that will find their way into my salad bowl, and I’m riding a wave of inspiration from this past weekend’s cookouts.
In fact, the recent array of salads at my friends’ house was downright daunting. When it came time to load my plate, it simply wasn’t big enough for all of them! Forget the sizzling meats and sticky sauces charring on the grill; there were salads made of black beans, feta and watermelon, curried chicken, arugula and roasted corn, and – my favorite of the day – a crunchy, red cabbage coleslaw loaded with sesame seeds and baked tofu, dressed in bold Asian flavors. Yes, I went back for seconds and yes, I couldn’t wait to try to recreate it at home.
Here is my version – crunchy, salty, colorful, and delicious. I left out the tofu since it’s a taste that is often misunderstood, and, therefore, disliked. But adding protein – grilled shrimp or chicken would also do nicely – can take this from a side dish to the main plate. If, by chance, you are curious to try it with tofu (I recommend doing so once!), the Washington Post has an excellent recipe for preparing tofu.
Now, on to the tossing!
Crunchy Sesame-Cabbage Salad
Ingredients for salad
1/2 of a medium sized red cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 Napa cabbage or green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1/3 cup edamame
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup raw cashews, roughly chopped
5-6 radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Ingredients for the dressing
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari (light soy sauce may be substituted)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon of Sriracha or red pepper flakes for garnish (optional)
To make the salad
Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Using a whisk, combine the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad. Toss to coat.
Chill the dressed salad for at least an hour in the the refrigerator. For best flavor, chill overnight.