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We Love Winter Slaws

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Not just for summer, these refreshing salads are perfect with cold-weather fare.

by Mindy Fox
from Fine Cooking #127, pp. 46-51

Winter slaws are easy to love. My own infatuation with them began on a cold February evening with a peek in the fridge. The offerings on hand were pretty scant: half a head of red cabbage and some carrots. But as so often is true, less really is-or at least can be turned into-more. I thinly sliced the cabbage, julienned the carrot, and tossed in some items from the pantry (sliced almonds, dried cranberries, a few glugs of olive oil, a splash of cider vinegar, a little honey), and then my husband and I enjoyed a crisp, gorgeous slaw with vibrant flavors and cheery colors that brightened up our dinner. From that point on, slaws-so often served in summer-became a mainstay for us all winter long.

Any winter vegetable that can be thinly sliced and eaten raw works well in slaw. The hearty nature of winter vegetables like beets and parsnips means these slaws can handle flavorful additions like fresh or dried fruit and nuts or seeds. Cheese, unusual in a summer slaw, lends a welcome richness to these refreshing salads.

Winter slaws can be served as a side or a starter before the main course. I often serve my fennel and grapefruit slaw before a plate of seared scallops or a light fish dish. Earthy celery root and tart apple slaw makes a perfect first-course salad ahead of a pasta or risotto, and would also be a delicious side for roast chicken or garlic-rubbed pork chops. Red beets and pale parsnips are striking alongside juicy seared steaks, while a Moroccan-inspired cabbage slaw is the perfect accompaniment to a meaty braise. Come to think of it, I may make slaw more often in winter than I do in summer. And that’s just fine with me.

Featured Recipes
Fennel Slaw with Grapefruit, Cracked Pepper, and Pistachios Citrusy Beet, Parsnip, and Radish Slaw
Fennel Slaw with Grapefruit, Cracked Pepper, and Pistachios     Citrusy Beet, Parsnip, and Radish Slaw
Celery Root-Apple Slaw with Pecorino, Parsley, and Pine Nuts Cabbage-Carrot Slaw with Cranberries, Mint, and Honey
Celery Root-Apple Slaw with Pecorino, Parsley, and Pine Nuts     Cabbage-Carrot Slaw with Cranberries, Mint, and Honey

Want more winter salads? View our slideshow: Fresh Winter Salads

5 Ways to Make the Cut

Many of these slaws call for vegetables to be cut into a julienne, which means matchsticklike strips. As long as the strands are thin, however, there’s no need to be super precise. You can get a julienne (or close to it) using all of the tools shown here. The results vary but all work well in slaw. For fennel, which is sliced but not julienned, use a knife or mandoline. A knife or food processor works best for cabbage.

Chef's knife julienne peeler mandoline
Chef’s knife   Julienne peeler   Mandoline
Food processor box grater  
Food processor   Box grater    

Chef’s knife

If you have just a few vegetables to julienne, a sharp knife allows for total control. For root vegetables, slice into 1/8-inch-thick pieces, stack a few, and then slice into sticks.

Julienne peeler
A julienne peeler can make quick work of the job and yields uniform results. It works well on carrots and parsnips, but it can be tedious to use on dense vegetables.

A mandoline (or hand-held slicer) fitted with a julienne blade also quickly makes vegetables slaw-ready, and sturdy ones can cut through dense vegetables like beets and celery root easily.

Food processor
A food processor fitted with the shredding disk works fast and makes sense when you’re julienning a lot of vegetables. For the longest strands, lay the vegetable on its long side in the feed tube.

Box grater
The large holes on a box grater also can approximate a julienne. The pieces are shorter, less uniform, and a little jagged, however, and so will look a little less refined.

Photographs by Scott Phillips



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