This is a common Russian version of a traditional coleslaw. It is easy to make, light and relatively low in calories but filling cabbage salad with carrots. How is this recipe different from a typical English/American slaw? There is no mayonnaise in the Russian cabbage salad. Instead Russian cole slaw is dressed with lemon juice, salt and just a bit of oil. It is light, healthy and tasty if you know just one little secret of making it. Here it is…
Russian cabbage salad (coleslaw) recipe
- 1 head of white cabbage (young fluffier and slightly greener one is preferable)
- 2 medium carrots
- 1/2 lemon (juice only)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- salt to taste
- a pinch of caraway seeds (optional)
- 1 tsp or less of superb quality oil: unrefined sunflower, super virgin olive, ground nut or so
Take the top scruffy leaves of the cabbage off. Give the cabbage a rinse and then pat it dry. Cut the cabbage off the stem and into large chunks (discard the stem). Now slice each chunk of cabbage as thinly as you possibly can. There are people in Russia who take special pride in their ability to slice the cabbage almost paper thin for salads or soups (like borscht or shee). And there are people who can’t care less, like yours truly. So just do your best and don’t let it bother you too much.
Place sliced cabbage into a large salad bowl in which you are planning to serve the salad. Salt the cabbage to taste or even a bit more generously and with your clean hands mix the cabbage with salt slightly rubbing and squeezing it in your handfuls. Here we are doing the same as for the traditional Russian pickled cabbage recipe. Rubbing sliced cabbage with salt will release the juices and make the Russian slaw moist and tasty without too much oil.
Grate the carrots on a large grater and add them to the cabbage. Pour sugar and a pinch or two of caraway seeds in the bowl. Caraway is a popular herb in Russian, German and Scandinavian cuisines. Caraway adds a nice edge to breads and cabbage dishes. Unless you are one of those people who simply cannot stand the taste of caraway… Then just skip it.
Mix the salad well, cover the bowl with cling film and keep it at room temperature for an hour or longer. This time is needed for the cabbage to give out more juice and start fermenting. Firm winter cabbage needs more time, fluffy greenish young summer cabbage needs less. This is that little secret of a good not-fattening slaw that I promised earlier. Hope it’s safe with you :-).
When you are ready to serve the salad, squeeze the lemon juice and add the oil into your Russian slaw. If you are calorie conscious, skip the oil. You will be surprised how the Russian slaw is juicy, filling and tasty even without the oil. Mix well again and serve as a vegetable side or a light garnish for meat, chicken and potato dishes. Enjoy!
Here is a winter recipe for a pickled cabbage slaw, also very good and simple to make.