Food memories are strong memories.
When I was a kid, my mom used to make a delicious red cabbage salad with cucumbers.
She sliced the cabbage very thin, and dressed the tangly strands with red wine vinegar and olive oil.
The salad was left to marinate in a particular bowl, allowing the acidity from the vinaigrette to soften the vegetables.
I always looked forward to this dish.
One would think mac & cheese or ice cream would take preference as an acceptable kids’ choice for food. And yes, I ate those things too.
But I also gorged myself on cruciferous cabbage salad until my lips turned purple from the vinaigrette (has that ever happened to you?).
When I stumbled upon this particular recipe, one that calls for an asian-style dressing drizzled over a rainbow of vegetable goodness, I was immediately inspired to try something new.
The dressing combines creamy peanut butter with coconut milk, a hit of hot sauce, and lime juice. It’s drizzled over a bed of shaved red cabbage and kale, with clementine wheels and pomegranate seeds. It’s a wonderful combination of crunchy, creamy, sweet, and tangy…
And just like mom’s salad, it gets better as it sits.
This recipe is super quick to put together and very flexible to suit whatever you have on hand (next time, I might even throw in some grilled chicken!).
It also travels well, so it’s perfect for on the go situations.
But the best part, for me, was preparing and enjoying this salad for lunch. With my mom.
(And we’ve come full circle…)
What are some of your favorite food memories?
Tips: This recipe was inspired by my friend Heike. All of her creations are plant-based and chock full of colorful inspiration! You can find her original version here.
There are a few ways to prep a pomegranate. I like to cut it into quarters, invert the skin, and gently coax the seeds out with my fingers. Work over the salad bowl as you do this- the extra juice will add nice flavor.
Substitutions: The original recipe calls for soba noodles which we forgot to add! We threw them in at the end (after the pictures were taken). They add a great soft and chewy texture to the salad. Don’t forget.
Make-Ahead: The dressing can be made in advance up to 1 week, stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Store sliced cabbage and kale (respectively) in containers or ziploc bags, up to 3-5 days. Pomegranate seeds can be prepped 4-5 days in advance. Slice the clementines fresh.
The entire salad can assembled 1 day in advance, with the pomegranate seeds and clementines scattered over the top (not mixed in- they’ll get soggy). Toss well before serving. This is best served at room temperature.
- 1 tbsp all-natural creamy peanut butter
- 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar or white vinegar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- the juice of ½ lime
- 1 tsp honey, plus more to taste
- 2 tbsp coconut milk
- 1 tbsp hot water
- dash of hot sauce
- 1 small wedge of red cabbage, sliced paper thin
- 2 cups shredded kale
- 2 scallions, white & light green part only, thinly sliced
- 1-2 clementines, peeled and sliced into wheels
- ¼ cups pomegranate seeds
- 1 serving cooked black rice soba noodles (optional)
- 1 tsp white sesame seeds (optional)
- Add all of the dressing ingredients to a small bowl. Whisk until well blended.
- To prepare the salad, add the cabbage, kale and scallions to a large bowl. Pour a little bit of the dressing over the top and toss well. Marinate for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, if using soba noodles, cook them according to the package directions. When finished, rinse under cold water. Drain well and add to the salad.
- To finish, add the clementine wheels, pomegranate seeds and sesame seeds (if using). Add additional dressing and toss well to combine. Taste, and add more lime juice as needed.
- Serve at room temperature.