It’s the peak of summer – time to cool down with some coleslaw!
When I think of summer, I think of outdoor barbeques. And when I think of barbeques, I think of coleslaw. Of course, like many folks, when I think of coleslaw I think of a few strands of slaw mix drowning in mayonnaise and sugar. Not exactly the most appetizing side dish. So when I stocked up on some watermelon and cucumbers from the Farmers Market, and also found a head of local cabbage for sale at Whole Foods, I decided to make my own version of this summer staple, bursting with veggies and not drowning in dressing!
To start, I cut up about seven slices of a large cucumber, about a cup of slices before quartering. I then quartered the slices so they’d be more “bite-size” in this salad. I then put them in a small bowl and covered them with rice vinegar to quickly “pickle” them. I got this technique from Eat This (Not That), and while they recommend using rice vinegar, I’m sure you could use white vinegar or even apple cider vinegar with similar success. I then let the cucumbers sit in the vinegar and “pickle” for 30 minutes. This results in a nice sour cucumber that’s still crisp and fresh, so don’t sub regular pickles that have been pickling for a really long time!
The pickling is the longest part of the salad if you’re using pre-sliced watermelon, making the rest of the steps very easy! About halfway through the pickling process, I took a quarter of a large head of cabbage and shredded it. This can either be done with a fancy shredding tool, or by chopping the cabbage into strips, then chopping finely with a chef’s knife by moving over the cabbage in a half-moon motion, like a pendulum swinging over your cabbage. Both techniques result in a great coleslaw texture. I then put the cabbage in a large bowl.
Rather than dowse the cabbage in mayo or even vegan mayo, I decided to keep it light, spicy, and sweet by mixing German mustard with some agave nectar. You could probably use spicy brown mustard as a sub, but this may affect the taste! I then added the dressing to the cabbage, threw in some salt and pepper, and stirred to cover the cabbage. It may seem like there’s not enough, but trust me, it will taste just right!
I then measured out some watermelon chunks. I usually cut up my watermelon right when I buy it, storing the large chunks in the fridge for later use. I highly recommend doing this since it makes enjoying a large watermelon very simple, and it keeps very well in an airtight container! I then cubed the watermelon to make them more bite-size and added them to the cabbage, stirring to get them covered with dressing. I then drained my cucumber slices, added them to the slaw, tossed, and voila! A delicious, healthy coleslaw that’s bursting with fruits and veggies, while not drowning in fat. Everyone wins!
This coleslaw is especially yummy because of all the different flavors happening. The cucumbers are nice and sour, the watermelon is sweet and cold, and the cabbage, in both mustard and agave, is a happy harmony of both sensations. You can either have a big helping as a lunch salad, or serve up smaller portions alongside a grilled portobello burger or other vegetarian barbecue staple. Enjoy!
Watermelon and Pickled Cucumber Coleslaw (Serves 2 or more)
7 slices of cucumber (about 1 cup), measured first, then quartered
Rice vinegar, to cover the cucumbers (about 1/4 to 1/3 a cup)
1 quarter of a head of fresh cabbage
3 TB German mustard
1 TB agave nectar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup watermelon chunks, measured first, then cubed
Pink pepper, to taste (optional)
Place quartered cucumber slices in a small bowl, then pour rice vinegar over the slices until covered. Let sit for 30 minutes, occasionally shaking the bowl to cover any floating pieces.
Finely chop or shred the cabbage, then place in a large bowl. Whisk together the mustard and agave until smooth, then pour over the cabbage. Add salt and pepper, then mix until the cabbage is evenly coated. If the cucumbers are still pickling, allow the slaw to sit to let the flavors meld.
When the cucumbers are ready, drain them, then add to the slaw. Add your watermelon, then toss to coat and combine with the slaw. When serving, garnish with pink pepper if desired.