spicy peanut carrot and cabbage salad

I’m sure that I’ve said this before, but one of my favorite little kitchen gadgets is a simple julienne peeler.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

The one I have is a sturdy dishwasher-safe stainless model by Kuhn Rikon that I found at Whisk for about $20, but there are a lot of other options out there on the market. The basic idea is sort of similar to a regular vegetable peeler, but with teeth running along the blade so that in one motion you end up with perfectly julienned strips of whatever you’re using it on.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve also used vegetable spiralizers that produce similar results, and while spiral slicers offer more options and variation, my julienne peeler is sturdier, smaller, and cheaper than even the smallest handheld spiral slicer.

Although it has tons of uses, my favorite use for this nifty little guy is to peel strips of carrot for salads, slaws, asian dishes, and garnishes.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Now that the weather is warming up I’ve been looking for light summery (I know we’re not quite there yet, but a man can dream) salads and cold dishes to eat on hot days. One of my favorite warm weather meals is a soba noodle salad with lots of veggies and a spicy peanut dressing.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was thinking about making that very dish, it’s one that I make a variation on at least once or twice every summer, but I thought it might be fun to try it without the noodles this time. Instead of the cold soba noodles I opted for long thin julienned strips of fresh carrot, and thinly shredded savoy cabbage.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you’re looking to add a little extra protein to this salad I think that laying some thinly sliced grilled chicken breast or lean steak over the top makes for a gorgeous presentation. To make things even simpler, you could just pull the meat off of a store bought rotisserie chicken and toss it all together with the other ingredients. My local grocery store recently started doing air-chilled organic chickens on their rotisserie too, which I think is a really nice option to have. Easy, delicious, and good quality!

If you wanted to keep the salad vegetarian, I think some roasted chickpeas would also be a really nice option!

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Added protein or not, this salad is pretty stellar.

The cabbage and carrot softens ever so slightly but still offers a pleasant crunch in every bite. The peanut dressing is thick and creamy and ever so slightly spicy and tangy from the vinegar and lime juice. The green onions and basil add even more green earthiness and flavor, and the toasted peanuts add great texture and flavor. It’s the perfect meal for the warm weather to come, and keeps well for a day in the refrigerator if you want to pack it for lunch. It would also be the perfect make-ahead meal for a picnic!
If you do decide to make it ahead, just be sure to wait to add the toasted peanuts until serving or they can absorb the oils in the dressing and lose their crunch.

carrot and cabbage salad with spicy peanut dressing | Brooklyn Homemaker

Carrot and Cabbage Salad with Spicy Peanut Dressing

1/4 cup smooth peanut butter (reduced sugar or sugar free is best)
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey (optional)
2 teaspoons sriracha sauce
1 garlic clove, finely minced or crushed
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges of an additional lime for serving

4 cups thinly shredded savoy cabbage, loosely packed (about half a head)
3 cups julienned or shredded carrots, loosely packed (about 4-6 large carrots)
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, sliced or torn
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts, toasted or pre-roasted

Combine all dressing ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and lump free. If using sweetened peanut butter, taste before adding the honey.

Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl. If making ahead, reserve the peanuts and wait to add until just before serving. Pour the dressing over the top of the salad and toss like mad until well combined. It may seem like there isn’t enough dressing but the cabbage will begin to wilt once tossed and the dressing will stretch. Of course, if you like a heavily dressed salad you can increase the dressing recipe. Serve with lime wedges if desired

Salad will keep, refrigerated and well covered, for at least a day.

If desired, top with thinly sliced lean steak or chicken breast, or toss with pulled rotisserie chicken meat or roasted chickpeas.


favorite creamy coleslaw

I have the best job in the world, y’all.

favorite creamy coleslaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Not only do I get to sell kitchenware and talk about food all day, but I work with a group of people who love food just as much as I do. A few times a year my boss organizes work events and parties, and they usually revolve around food (and drinking), and everyone in the store gets involved.

Most recently, to celebrate the warm weather and sunshine, she invited us to her home for a seafood boil.

favorite creamy coleslaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wish you could see the email chain with never-ending menu planning notes, logistics and to-do lists. I seriously LOVE my job.

The spread included a huge cooler full of crawfish flown in from Louisiana and a giant bag of 300 littleneck clams, along with seafood stew, boiled corn, potato salad, vegetarian paella, homemade caesar salad, lemon bars, key lime pie, beer, wine, & vodka spiked lavender lemonade. My contribution was a giant skillet of cornbread, a blueberry cornmeal cobbler, and coleslaw. Amazing coleslaw. This coleslaw.

favorite creamy coleslaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know coleslaw is an afterthought for most people, but I really love it. Like, a lot. Especially when it’s done right. I’m the kind of guy that eats, or at least tastes, the coleslaw every time it comes on my plate. For years I’ve struggled to find a classic homemade coleslaw recipe that I really loved. This time I finally got it right. I swear this might be the only coleslaw I ever make for the rest of my days. Probably not though. I can’t leave well enough alone.

Anyway, I’ve tried a ton of different recipes and none of them ever seemed to live up to my hopes and expectations. I’ve adjusted the levels of mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, & seasoning. I’ve experimented with different types of cabbage, and different shred sizes. I tried using celery salt, onion salt, mustard powder, flavored vinegars, you name it, but nothing I tried ever tasted quite right.

This time I went back to the basics and started with a simple classic recipe. Plain old white cabbage and carrots with mayonnaise and vinegar, but with just a few little twists.  I used apple cider vinegar rather than white vinegar because it has a bit more flavor and a nice subtle sweetness. I substituted celery seed and finely diced fresh celery instead of celery salt, and it made huge a difference, bringing an unexpected brightness and fresh summery flavor. I used some finely diced red onion for a subtle bite, and added a bit of dijon mustard for some depth and a tiny hint of spice. The sugar and salt are just enough to bring out all the bright fresh flavors and make everything pop without being overpowering.

favorite creamy coleslaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

This is actually a really simple recipe to put together, especially if you have a mandoline slicer. I shredded the cabbage as finely as I could and, using the medium-tooth blade attachment, diced the celery and red onion just as fine. When you first shred it, the cabbage seems like SO MUCH, but once you toss it in the dressing it loosens up and compresses down. I think it’s important to let the cabbage soak in the dressing for at least an hour or two before serving, and it manages to stay crunchy and fresh even made a day or two ahead.

Just a quick side note, it turns out that our dogs LOVE raw shredded cabbage. They’re so funny sometimes.

favorite creamy coleslaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know it’s just coleslaw, but I’m really proud of myself. The dressing is totally perfect too. Creamy, without being gloppy or overly mayonnaise-y. Tangy, not biting or vinegar-y. Subtly sweet, but not at all cloying. Juuuust right.

Look out summer. Here I come.

favorite creamy coleslaw | Brooklyn Homemaker

Favorite Creamy Coleslaw

1 medium head of green cabbage, finely shredded
1 small to medium red onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
3 carrots, julienned or grated

3/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons sugar

Prepare all vegetables and toss together in a large bowl. This can be done with a sharp knife and/or a box grater; but I used a mandoline cutter with the cabbage, onion, & celery to get perfect thin shreds, and a julienne peeler to get long thin strips of carrot.
Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl until well combined. Pour dressing over cabbage mix and toss toss toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Before serving toss again to incorporate any dressing at the bottom of the bowl.
If served right away the cabbage will be wonderfully crisp, but this can be made up to two days in advance without getting too soft or soggy.