Now that our old pal global warming has kicked summer back into spring, no doubt you’ve been firing up the grill for several weeks now, charring yourself some luscious hunks of bloody, bloody meat.

In all seriousness, though, unless you’re suffering from a bit of the lycanthropy, you’re going to need something more than flesh to satisfy your pangs.

And that’s where the mighty slaw comes in.

Oh, slaw, with your tangy crunch and bumptiously high-fibered nutritional content, why have we not feted you previously? You’d be hard-pressed to find a family barbecue in the U.S. of A. without at least one bowl brimming with the stuff. Without slaw, it’s just not a barbecue; it’s just a bunch of woebegone werewolves wishing for more napkins.

Now, of course the most common kind of slaw is of the cole-ish kind. In fact, the word “coleslaw” is simply a transliteration from the Dutch “koolsla,” which, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the foremost authority on the origin of English language words, is a form of “kool-salade” or cabbage salad.

Interestingly, by the way, that “kohl” sound is found in many members of the family Brassica. Broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, collards – it’s all right there.

That’s right: Come for the slaw. Stay for the lexicological bloviations.

Now, when most of us think of coleslaw, we’re thinking of shredded (or chiffonade of) cabbage dressed with a creamy mayonnaise dressing. (Unless you’re from North Carolina, in which case, your cabbage might be diced and tossed with a vinegar-based dressing.)

Cabbage aside, though, if we recall that the “slaw” means “salad,” our eyes are now open to a whole world of possibilities.

If you want to make a slaw then, all you have to do is get some very fresh vegetables (It’s farmers market season, kids!), render them into small bits, coat them lightly with a delicious dressing and, as my fine young son used to bellow on the tennis court: “Blammo!”

We have achieved slaw.

Generally speaking, slaws are defined by their main ingredient or ingredients. I tend not to use more than three. Think broccoli, raisin and carrot, or carrot, snow pea and radish, or radish, jicama and apple, or apple, fennel and cabbage, or cabbage, carrot and scallion, or scallion, edamame and bacon. See what I’m doing? I’m just riffing on ingredients that taste good raw (except the bacon), then putting them together. Or, you can fancy up your basic coleslaw by combining your cabbage with just about anything else.

Now, for dressings. All of the following are acid-based (vinegar, citrus), but they also can be stirred into mayonnaise for a creamier slaw.

Asian-style 1: Equal parts soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, optional brown sugar; garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and/or wasabi paste to taste.

 Asian-style 2: Two parts lime juice to one part each fish sauce, brown sugar, optional peanuts or peanut butter; garlic, cilantro, mint and salt to taste.

Indian-style: Equal parts lime juice, oil, shredded coconut, peanuts and cilantro; garam masala and a pinch of turmeric to taste.

 North Carolina (Piedmont): Equal parts ketchup, cider vinegar and sugar; black pepper and optional hot sauce or cayenne pepper to taste.


Makes 12 servings

12 ounces Romaine lettuce, chiffonade

12 ounces radicchio, chiffonade

12 ounces frisee, chiffonade

12 ounces Caesar slaw dressing, see recipe

6 ounces Parmesan, grated

12 ounces bacon lardons, crisped

2 ounces Italian parsley, finely minced

Toss three lettuces with dressing. Serve, topped with grated Parmesan, bacon and parsley.


Makes about 13/4 cups

4 ounces Parmesan, grated

1 shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 ounces cider vinegar

1 ounce lemon juice

1 cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon hot sauce, optional

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 ounce anchovy paste

Salt and pepper to taste

2 teaspoons finely minced parsley

In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients until combined. Chill 30 minutes before using.

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