This mild, addictively delicious salad -- which falls somewhere between coleslaw and sauerkraut -- is a traditional German recipe that was made by my relatives. This dish was a favorite of my mother's when she was a child, but as the recipe was not written down, she recreated it based on her taste memory. The key to this recipe is soaking the cabbage in boiling salt water, which wilts the cabbage and gives it a lovely soft texture yet a bit of crunch. The cabbage is best if shredded quite fine -- we use a mandoline in our family, but the long blade of a box grater, the slicing blade of a food processor, or even a sharp, long knife will also work well. This dish is a wonderful accompaniment to almost any meal and is especially nice with roasted meats, poultry, or fish. At the bottom of the recipe I've included a modern variation that uses additional vegetables and herbs, which adds extra vibrancy and complexity to this salad. Try both versions! —sonya gropman
Test Kitchen Notes
WHO: Sonya gropman is a visual artist living in New York City.
WHAT: A 5-ingredient salad that’s part sauerkraut and part coleslaw.
HOW: Soak finely shredded cabbage in boiling salt water for 30 to 60 minutes, drain, and add other vegetables as you see fit. Toss everything with a simple vinaigrette and serve it to a crowd (or keep it for yourself).
WHY WE LOVE IT: We don’t know about you, but we don’t have time to wait weeks for cabbage to ferment into sauerkraut. Behold this recipe: the lazy, impatient man’s version of kraut. It packs more punch than coleslaw but requires only an hour of anxious expectation. Win, win. —The Editors
- Serves 8 to 10
medium-sized green cabbage
kosher salt, plus extra if needed
White ground pepper (or black pepper), to taste
neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
- Trim the core out of the cabbage and shred it finely into a large glass, ceramic, or stainless steel bowl.
- Boil the water with the salt. Pour the boiling salted water over the cabbage, and let sit until the water cools, 30 to 60 minutes.
- Drain the cabbage using a colander. Press down on the colander with a slightly smaller plate in order to force out as much water as possible. Return the drained cabbage to a clean, dry bowl.
- Put the vinegar and pepper in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly add the oil until blended with the vinegar. Pour the vinaigrette over the cabbage, tossing gently to distribute evenly. Taste for salt, adding more if needed. The slaw will be ready to eat immediately, though the flavor and texture will mellow and improve if allowed to stand for an hour or more.
- Variation: Prepare steps 1 through 3 above, then add the following to the cabbage in the bowl: 2 carrots, shredded on the large holes of a box grater; 1 small shallot, minced; 1 bunch arugula, chopped small; and1 to 2 tablespoons fresh marjoram, minced. Then continue with step 4 above.