Asian Cabbage Salad
Cabbage is having a bit of a moment right now, and I feel as if I’ve been waiting for it all along. This Asian Cabbage Salad with peanut dressing is light and bright, filling, and has been adding a burst of life to my lunch routine.
While we usually think of cabbage as bland or a part of a heavy spread (St. Patrick’s Day; German cuisine), this vibrant salad proves that cabbage can be bright and even fun.
Asian cabbage salad is playful. It’s got crunch and zip and layers of texture from ingredients like red bell peppers, edamame, and almonds. You’ll feel happy after you eat it. It might even make you think about cabbage in an entirely new way.
I have long felt a tenderness towards under-appreciated vegetables like cabbage (hence the respectable collection of healthy cabbage recipes you’ll find here), but I recognize that most of us probably only think about cabbage when tasked with making coleslaw for the company picnic, or at least until recently.
Something in the world of cooking with cabbage has changed.
If I were the betting type, I’d say the sudden cabbage fervor stems from the fact that a whole head cabbage can last for 3 weeks in the refrigerator (some sources claim 4 to 5 weeks). If you’re limiting trips to the store, cabbage is an ideal choice.
I’m hoping those who try cabbage for the first time are sold on its good qualities and become cabbage regulars in the future. In addition to its long shelf life, cabbage is high in fiber, antioxidants, and Vitamin-C.
When treated properly, cabbage is also delicious! It’s the crunch at the heart of this healthy Asian cabbage salad with almonds.
If you’ve never tried a raw cabbage salad before, this recipe is an excellent gateway. The peanut dressing alone promises as much.
How to Make Asian Cabbage Salad
I love this recipe for its layers of colors and textures. It doesn’t skimp on flavor, and there is plenty of good crunch.
- Cabbage. I used a blend of both green and red cabbage for color (you’ll need about ½ of a small head of each), but if you prefer not to have extra, you can use just 1 small head of red or green, instead of both.
**While you can swap a bag of premade coleslaw in a pinch, the texture of the cabbage you find in a bag does not compare to thinly slicing it yourself from a whole head. See below for tips.
- Red Bell Pepper. Bell peppers are rich in Vitamin-C, potassium, and numerous antioxidants. Plus, they add a pleasant crunch and subtle sweetness.
- Shredded Carrots. You can get away with pre-shredded carrots here, so if you’re looking to save time, this is the place to do it. Carrots bring an abundance of Vitamin-A and fiber to this salad and a stripe of orange to the salad rainbow.
- Edamame. I love to keep a bag of shelled edamame in my freezer for adding to stir fries and salads. It’s also packed with protein, Vitamin-K, and folate.
- Cilantro. For color and extra freshness. Cilantro livens it up!
- Almonds. For nuttiness, crunch, and satisfying healthy fats. You could also swap peanuts, or try a blend of almonds and sunflower seeds.
- Ginger Peanut Dressing. It takes just minutes to stir together and makes this salad totally addictive. I like to make a little extra for my leftovers.
- Toast the almonds (do NOT walk away as the cook).
- Add the remaining salad ingredients to a large bowl. For tips on how to slice your cabbage heads, see the section below.
- Prepare the dressing, then pour it over the salad ingredients a little at a time. Toss, and continue to add more dressing until you’ve reached your desired amount. Sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top, toss, and DIG IN!
How to Thinly Slice Cabbage for Salad
- Start by cutting the cabbage heads in half from top to bottom, slicing down through the stem. Remove any brown outer leaves.
- Then, place the cabbage with its flat, cut-side facing against the cutting board. Cut the halves into quarters (slicing down from the top through the stem again). Carefully cut out the core and discard.
- Turn the pieces so a flat side is on the cutting board, and slice them as thinly as possible, working your way across each quarter.
- From there, you can keep the cabbage as is or chop it further. Personally, for my raw cabbage salads, I like to roughly chop it into smaller pieces (pictured above), which I find a little easier to eat.
Make Ahead and Storage Tips
- To Make Ahead. Chop all your vegetables up to 1 day in advance, and store them in the refrigerator. You can also prepare your dressing up to 1 day in advance, and store it in a separate container in the refrigerator.
- To Store. Place cabbage salad in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator. Once dressed, it will save for 3 or 4 days and can save a day or so longer if not yet dressed. If you prefer to dress your salad as you serve it, store your dressing separately. I like to keep a little leftover extra dressing on the side no matter what to liven up each serving.
What to Serve with Asian Cabbage Salad
- Make It a Main Dish. Turn this salad into a filling main dish by adding some Crock Pot Shredded Chicken or crumbled pieces of Crispy Tofu for protein. I also like to mix in some spinach and arugula to make it more of a green salad.
- Salmon. This salad would make an excellent side dish for Teriyaki Salmon or Soy Ginger Salmon.
- Shrimp. Shrimp cooked with my favorite Grilled Shrimp Seasoning would hit the spot atop this raw cabbage salad.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
- Mixing Bowls. Stackable for easy storage and microwave safe.
- Baking Sheet. One of the items I use most often in my kitchen. It’s ideal for toasting the nuts here.
- Chef’s Knife. When cutting large items like cabbage, it’s important to have a high-quality chef’s knife.
I smiled every time I opened our refrigerator and found a container of crunchy Asian cabbage salad beaming back at me. This recipe yields a large quantity, but since it lasts for several days in the refrigerator even after the ginger peanut dressing is added, I had no problem polishing it off. I suspect it will go quickly in your home too.
Asian Cabbage Salad
FOR THE SALAD:
- 1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- ½ small head green cabbage - finely sliced (about 3 cups)*
- ½ small head red cabbage - finely sliced (about 3 cups)**
- 1 medium red bell pepper - very thinly sliced
- 1 cup shredded carrots - about 2 medium
- 1 cup frozen shelled edamame - thawed
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
FOR THE DRESSING
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts in a single layer on an ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Toast for 4 to 6 minutes, until fragrant and crisp. Toss once halfway through and do not walk away during the last few minutes of cooking (TRUST ME). Immediately remove to a small bowl or plate (or if your salad is ready to go, you can add them directly to the serving bowl).
- In a large bowl, place the green and red cabbage, bell pepper, carrots, edamame, and cilantro.
- In a medium mixing bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the dressing ingredients: rice vinegar, honey, soy sauce, peanut butter, and ginger. Pour enough over the salad to moisten it. Toss to coat. Assess the amount of dressing and add more as desired. Add the almonds and give the salad a final, light toss. If time allows, let marinade for 30 minutes prior to serving. Enjoy!
- *In a time crunch, you can swap the green cabbage for a 16-ounce bag of prepared coleslaw mix or broccoli slaw, though I find cutting it yourself is well worth it in this recipe; see blog post above for tips and photos.
- **If you prefer not to use 2 different kinds of cabbage, you can swap the two half-heads here for 1 full, small head of green cabbage.
- TO STORE: Place cabbage salad in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator. Once dressed, it will save for 3 or 4 days and can save a day or so longer if not yet dressed. If you prefer to dress your salad as you serve it, store your dressing separately. I like to keep a little leftover extra dressing on the side no matter what to liven up each serving.
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