How is summer almost over? Let me restate that. SUMMER IS ALMOST OVER!!! I’m just a little bit excited about it. Not because I don’t love summer, because it has its charms (fresh juicy peaches make me oh so happy), but because we can resume what I jokingly call regular life. Our non-summer schedule is somewhat atypical, but it’s reliable for the most part, and in just a couple of weeks I’ll once again have some dedicated time to devote to this little space on the internet. I hope you’re hungry.
Even though the dog days of summer are fading into fall, there are still picnics and potlucks to be had, and this perfect vegan coleslaw definitely deserves some space at the table. Not only is it plant-based, but it tastes just like the classic dish, with nearly half of the fat and no weird ingredients. OH, and it’s the perfect blend of creamy and crunchy, thanks to a little trick I learned recently.
You can see the trick in action in the video! Hint: watch carefully for some surprise ingredients.
VIDEO: How to make perfect vegan coleslaw
Did you catch that? The trick to getting the best texture of the cabbage in coleslaw is draw out a lot of the water content with what seems like a crazy amount of salt and sugar. I learned about this trick from the geniuses over at Serious Eats, and they explained the science behind this better than I ever could. Let’s just say it’s totally worth the extra 10 minutes this adds to your coleslaw making process.
Prepping the coleslaw ingredients is pretty straightforward. You want long shreds of carrots and thin strips of cabbage. In these photos I used standard green cabbage alone, but in the video I used green cabbage along with some red cabbage for some extra color. Speaking of color, why is it called red cabbage? It’s clearly purple. Same goes for red onions. I don’t get it.
If you didn’t watch the video, here’s a quick visual for how effective the salt/sugar combo is in drawing out the water from the cabbage. Basically, you toss the cabbage and carrots with a whole bunch of salt and sugar, let it sit for 10 minutes, then pour out the water/cabbage juice that is drawn out. Finally, you’ll rinse all the salt and sugar off and thoroughly drain and dry the cabbage/carrot mixture. A salad spinner is the perfect tool for this, but a sheet pan and kitchen towels work, too.
Yes, you lose some volume by pulling out that water, but the texture of the cabbage is vastly improved, and you won’t end up with a soupy mess at the bottom of the bowl after you mix in the dressing. Speaking of the dressing…
Typically coleslaw dressing has a mayonnaise base, which basically turns a virtuous vegetable side dish into a bowl of oil with some cabbage thrown in. So of course I had to use my savory cashew cream to replace the mayo. It works SO WELL, friends. You will not miss the mayo one bit, nor will you miss the 40% of fat that is left out when you skip the mayo. It is such a sneaky swap, I would bet a bushel of cabbage that your fellow picnickers and potluckers won’t be able to tell the difference.
Along with the savory cashew cream, the usual suspects of vinegar, dijon mustard, sugar, and celery seed are mixed in. Plus a whole bunch of black pepper. I really wish I had a bowl of this in front of me right now.
Like that one. I could probably eat that whole thing, but I do have SOME self-control. Not a lot. Some.
Besides eating it straight out of the bowl, I love to use it to top carrot dogs! It’s surprisingly delicious.
So, there you go, perfect vegan coleslaw for your next coleslaw-appropriate meal. I hope you’ll make it and let me know how it goes! Word to the wise – don’t drink the cabbage juice.
Perfect Vegan Coleslaw (oil-free)
- 1 head green cabbage (or a mix of green/purple, thinly sliced by hand or with a food processor or mandoline)
- 2 carrots (peeled and shredded)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
For the dressing:
- 3/4 cup savory cashew cream*
- 1/4 cup unsweetened rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons sugar or maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon whole celery seeds or 1/4 teaspoon ground celery seed
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
- In the bowl of a salad spinner or other large bowl, toss the cabbage and carrots with sugar and salt.
- Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then rinse under cold water and drain. The salad spinner basket is the perfect tool for this, but a large bowl and colander will work just fine.
- In the meantime, make the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Spin the cabbage/carrot mixture dry using a salad spinner, or spread out over a sheet pan lined with kitchen towels and pat dry.
- Toss with the dressing, and season with additional pepper to taste.
- Keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days, but it won’t last that long.
- Serve as a topping for carrot dogs or as a side at your next potluck.