Slaw is perfect for a crowd and perfect for pairing with a variety of proteins, especially ones prepared on the grilled. One of the reasons it's ideal for a large amount of people; Cabbage. Since it is the base for slaw, the sheer density of this cruciferous veg creates a huge volume. Next best thing, if you not making it for a crowd, is it's ideal to chop it all up once over the weekend and have extra batches all week long as side dish for lunches or dinners. The reason I stated 3+ ways is that for years now, I have been making various versions of this spicy crunch slaw depending on what is fresh and crisp at the store and which dressing I stir up that day. The important factor to this slaw is finding items with great crunch factor, and then pairing it with the dressing you like or best goes with your meal.
Since JC and I avoid mayo due to our egg allergy, my dressing eliminates the creamy mayo and replaces it with a tangy, spicy one. Which I believe provides the perfect, sharp complement to a ton of main courses, ie: pulled pork sandwiches, plain ole pork, burgers, seared tuna, grilled chicken, roasted or sautéd fish. Shall I go on...
Let the chopping begin!
(This makes a huge amount that will easily feed at least 12+. What I do if I have less people is I only dress the amount I need and keep the rest of the chopped veggies in an airtight plastic container or bag. It stays fresh for a while and then you can dress close to the time of serving. I suggest at least 1/2 hr prior to allow it to really soak in. One important note if you are saving it for during the week; leave the cucumber out and cut that right before serving. It's the only vegetable that will get watery and soaky if you let it sit. )
8 c Napa cabbage, shredded
6 c Purple cabbage
1/2 jicama, cut into strips
1 English cucumber, cut in half lengthwise, sliced on diagonal
1 c celery, thinly sliced
1 c fennel, thinly sliced
4 scallions, thinly sliced, also on the diagonal
1 c red onion, thinly sliced
Mint or cilantro, whichever you prefer
(Also, please remember that it's just slaw, so amounts are arbitrary. If you want more celery, add it. If you only have 3 scallions, so be it. Seriously, don't stress over the amounts. I have never measured anything, but have here to give some guidelines.)
1 c red wine vinegar
1/2 c rice wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
juice of 1/2 line
1/2 large jalapeño, finely chopped
1 t Thai chili paste
Whisk together. Add more chili paste or jalapeño if you want more heat. (If you still want to have the creamy factor see dressing options below.)
Thai Style Dressing
1/4 c Canola or Peanut Oil (if you only have olive oil, use that)
2/3 c chunky peanut butter
1/3 c Tahini
1 T Thai chili paste
juice of a lime
1/3 c rice wine vinegar
Use the base dressing recipe above using less oil then add mayo or a smashed avocado to it.
Fresh raw corn, cut off the cob
Red, Yellow, Orange peppers
Chop, slice, cut the vegetables in thin slices. I usually use a mandolin because it's fast and easy giving you consistent cuts. But a knife does the trick too. Another important note when slicing and chopping is to make the pieces similar. Harder crunchier veg should be thinner than ones that are not, ie: cucumber can be a thicker cut.
Toss all the cut ingredients with the dressing of our choice and set in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour before serving. It's better when the dressing breaks down the rawness of the veggies ever so slightly and allows the salad to absorb that spice.
As I mentioned above, the crunch factor is what you are looking for here. With the dozens of times I have prepared this salad, I have altered it according to what is fresh or in season switching out the dressings too. Below are several ingredients that I have used in the past that crunch nicely with, or can replace some of the ingredients above plus two other dressing options. I do recommend that you keep the cabbage as one of the mainstays in this salad. As you can see, the possibilities for creating a crunchy slaw are entirely up to you. It can be different every time and still be full of spicy flavor. Hey, if you don't like spice, just leave it out.
Here's a version I recently made using cabbage, celery, fennel, cucumber, red onion, scallion with the Thai style dressing topping it with chopped peanuts and extra cilantro
This salad gets better the next day, and because it's so crunchy it last several days. However, be forewarned, you might not have leftovers! So whichever ingredient mix you choose, Crunch away!