This slaw may be featherweight, but it’s a heavyweight in flavor.
With a flurry of napa cabbage, sesame seeds, almonds and green onions, it’s a little like Chinese chicken salad. But not.
The secret is freshly grated ginger that really gives a ka-pow of bright, sharp throaty warm heat. Since I’m an avowed ginger addict, I even added a little more ginger, well, because why not, right?
The book, of which I received a review copy, features 60 recipes for an array of salads perfect for dinner or lunch. There is everything from leafy salads such as “Chard Salad with Garlic Breadcrumbs & Parmesan” and grain salads such as “Brown Butter Brussels Sprouts & Crispy Quinoa” to pasta salads such as “Half-Blistered Tomato Pasta Salad” and meat salads such as “Thai Pork Salad with Crisped Rice.”
This particular slaw is as crisp and crunchy as expected, but lighter in texture owing to the more delicate leaves of napa cabbage, as well as a dressing that’s not gloppy heavy, but thin and barely creamy from just two tablespoons of mayo mixed with lemon juice, olive oil and the grated ginger.
Torn basil leaves veer this Chinese-influenced salad into Italian territory, but subtly so. You could even use Thai basil leaves rather then Genovese, if you like. And if you wanted to add a squirt of Chinese hot mustard to the dressing, it would work quite well.
The recipe calls for leftover cooked chicken that’s shredded. I used some leftover meat from a whole roasted chicken purchased from Roli Roti the day before. Truth be told, this salad is so flavorful and satisfying that you could even skip the chicken, if you want, and enjoy it as a vegetarian option or side dish to a meat-centric backyard barbecue.
Best yet, you can assemble the entire salad ahead of time in mere minutes, and just toss it with the dressing right before serving.
This slaw may be featherweight, but it is definitely no light-weight when it comes to satisfaction.
8 cups very thinly sliced napa cabbage (about 1 head)
7 ounces leftover cooked chicken, shredded
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced or torn
3 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
For Creamy Ginger Dressing:
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon peeled, grated fresh ginger
4 to 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
In a large bowl, toss together the cabbage, chicken, almonds, sesame seeds, basil, and scallions.
To make the dressing, in a separate bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, mayonnaise, and ginger. Season with salt. Gradually whisk in the olive oil until smooth.
Pour most but not all of the dressing over the cabbage mixture and toss until lightly coated. Taste and add more dressing or salt as needed. Feel free to add more oil or mayo if desired. Eat soon — the cabbage gets watery as it wilts.
From Amanda Hesser in “Food52 Mighty Salads” by the editors of Food52
More Cabbage Recipes: Stir-Fried Bagels with Cabbage and Bacon