A Twist on Coleslaw — Grill It

Green cabbage gets kissed by the grill to turn coleslaw into something special.
Green cabbage gets kissed by the grill to turn coleslaw into something special.

During the pandemic, I made a new bestie.

Its name: cabbage.

It’s not like it was a stranger before. It had been welcomed into my home many a time. But I sheepishly admit I took it for granted.

It took a shelter-in-place mandate, with the curtailment of regular trips to the grocery store, to deepen my relationship with it profoundly.

Red, green, Savoy, Napa, you name it — I appreciate its low-maintenance nature more than ever that allows it to hold up in the fridge for weeks on end with little attention. When called upon, it can command attention, no matter what the occasion or the company. Best yet, it can be introduced easily raw or cooked in myriad ways.

So, when I spied a recipe for “Grilled Cabbage Coleslaw,” I turned happily to my newfound trusty friend.

This Asian-inspired take on coleslaw is from the new cookbook, Food Between Friends” (Clarkson Potter), of which I received a review copy. It was written by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, the comedic actor of “Modern Family” fame, and food writer and recipe developer, Julie Tanous.

The two Los Angeles residents bonded so deeply over a shared love of food at a dinner party, that they started cooking together and sharing their exploits on their own blog, Julie and Jessie Cook.

The cookbook is filled with sunny California dishes influenced by the South (Tanous hails from Alabama) and the Southwest (Tyler Ferguson grew up in Albuquerque). Take a taste of “Little Grits Souffles,” “Molasses & Coffee Pork Chops,” “Miso Polenta,” “Garlicky Sorghum Chicken Stir-Fry,” and “Gas Station Cherry Hand Pies.”

Char the cabbage on all sides on the grill.
Char the cabbage on all sides on the grill.

For this coleslaw, a head of green cabbage gets quartered, then charred on the grill. Then, it’s sliced thinly and tossed with grated carrots, scallions, basil leaves, and roasted peanuts. It’s finished with an easy vinaigrette made with peanut oil, rice vinegar, lime juice and zest, soy sauce, garlic, and a minced jalapeno for just a touch of heat.

The dressing recipe calls for roasted peanut oil. I actually ended up using a blend of roasted sesame oil and peanut oil. It also calls for the zest of half a lime. Since I think it’s hard to overdo it on that, I zested the entire lime, and noted that in the recipe below. You could also switch things up and use fish sauce instead of the soy sauce, if you prefer.

This coleslaw makes for a colorful and wonderful textural jumble of flavors and textures. The grilled cabbage contributes smoky char flavor, as well as both crispy and soft parts.

Enjoy it warm, room temperature or chilled.

It just shows that cabbage is one pal that won’t ever let you down.

Sweet, smoky, spicy, zesty, crunchy and tender.
Sweet, smoky, spicy, zesty, crunchy and tender.

Grilled Cabbage Coleslaw

(Serves 6 to 8)

For peanut vinaigrette:

1/4 cup roasted peanut oil (or a mix of peanut oil and toasted sesame oil)

2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Finely grated zest of 1 lime

Juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon soy sauce or liquid aminos or fish sauce

1 garlic clove, grated on a Microplane

1 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves

1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the slaw:

1 medium head of green cabbage, quartered and cored

Olive oil

2 medium carrots, coarsely grated

2 scallions, white and green parts sliced on the diagonal to 1/4-inch thickness

1/2 cup torn fresh basil leaves

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Make the vinaigrette: In a glass jar, combine the peanut oil (and sesame oil, if using), vinegar, lime zest and juice, soy sauce, garlic, honey, basil, and jalapeno. Screw on the lid and shake well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Make the slaw: Heat a grill, grill pan, or griddle to medium-high heat. Brush the cabbage quarters with olive oil and grill until well charred on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes total. Transfer to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil. Let rest for 5 minutes.

Thinly slice the cabbage. Transfer to a large bowl, and add the carrots, scallions, and basil. Toss to combine. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the vegetables and toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or cold. Top with the roasted peanuts just before serving.

Adapted From “Food Between Friends” by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Julie Tanous

More Cabbage Recipes to Enjoy: Cider-Braised Pork, Red Cabbage, and Apples

And: Stir-Fried Bagels with Cabbage and Bacon

And: Citrusy Red Cabbage Pickle

And: Charred Cabbage with Miso and Lime

And: Roasted Savoy Cabbage Cabbage Wedges, Caesar-Style

And: Soy-Glazed Red Cabbage by Eric Ripert

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  • Cabbage became our BFF in the kitchen during the pandemic, too. So versatile! And it could hang out in the refrigerator for a while before I got around to using it, and be none the worse for wear. Anyway, never grilled coleslaw before — but I will! Neat recipe — thanks.

  • Cabbage and beets both became our friend, I’ll invite them to dinner more often. I pinned the recipe and the next time we grill, I’ll give it a try.

  • Hi Karen: Ah, yes, beets are also trusty pals one can’t live without! 😉

  • Hi John: I’ve never eaten so much cabbage in one year in my life! LOL But wow, I really appreciate its keeping power now.

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