Thursday, 2 February 2012


I do love coleslaw - but I only realised this a few years ago, after making it myself for the first time.  Shop-bought coleslaw is not to my taste at all: sickly mayonnaise, raw onion and tasteless carrots are the things I complain about most.  But homemade coleslaw is a whole other thing entirely.  Crunchy, fresh, light, full of flavour - it's an energising, satisfying thing to eat - not a weird, creamy garnish to be pushed to the side of your plate.

The key to a coleslaw which I will enjoy eating lies in the dressing.  I knew I didn't want plain mayonnaise, so I experimented with various other dressings - some with mayonnaise and some without.  I eventually settled on a blend of yogurt and mayonnaise, sharpened with cider vinegar and spiced up with a great deal of black pepper.

I love mayonnaise made by the French brand, Maille.  I particularly like this one, flavoured with a subtle hint of mustard.  I bring back several jars of it whenever I go to France, but they sell it in Waitrose too.

My favourite mayonnaise

I don't like raw onion in coleslaw either - its flavour overwhelms everything else.  A finely sliced spring onion can be a nice addition, although is not essential.  The two key ingredients you need are cabbage and carrots.  I like coleslaw made with any cabbage - red, green or white are all good, although red cabbage does tend to bleed its colour a little and make the coleslaw a pale shade of pinky-purple.  This is not really a bad thing, mind you. 

Cabbages for coleslaw

In its simplest form the coleslaw I make is a quarter of a cabbage, sliced very finely, two fat carrots, peeled and grated, and a spoonful of dressing.  This can be put together for supper or lunch at very short notice - I usually have all the ingredients I need in my fridge.

But coleslaw can be fancified too.  Today I made a cheese and grape version, which was wildly successful.

The List Writer's Crunchy Cheese & Grape Coleslaw

For enough to feed a family of four, you will need:
  • a quarter of a large green cabbage, cored and finely sliced
  • 2 fat carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
  • 50g mature cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
  • a small bunch of seedless green grapes, sliced into quarters
  • dressing to taste
For the dressing, mix together in a little bowl:
  • 1 tablespoon of good mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons of natural yogurt
  • 1/2 a tablespoon of cider vinegar
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
Put all the coleslaw ingredients together in a large bowl and mix together with the dressing  - a spoonful at a time until it looks right to you.  Use your judgement here - you may like your coleslaw more or less creamy than I do.  Any leftover dressing, or coleslaw, will keep in the fridge for several days.

Coleslaw dressing

Good things to add to simple coleslaw (in place of the grated cheese and grapes above):

  • cheddar cheese and diced apple (I find if you grate the apple into the coleslaw the whole thing becomes watery and sour - dicing the apple is a much better idea)
  • toasted sunflower seeds and sultanas
  • sliced radishes and chopped roasted peanuts
  • chopped walnuts (serve this walnut coleslaw with sourdough bread and slices of parma ham - completely delicious)
  • a finely sliced spring onion
We eat our coleslaw with all sorts of things:
  • cheese on toast
  • jacket potatoes
  • sandwiches
  • peppery cumberland sausages
  • a good pork pie from the local butcher
And once every few weeks, when I am feeling in need of a little lunchtime indulgence, I walk up the road to our local Pakistani cafe, buy one of their VERY spicy lamb samosas, and come home and eat it with a big pile of cooling, homemade coleslaw on the side.  It's a crunchy, spicy, flavoursome feast fit for a queen (or king).



  1. Yum! You can't beat home made slaw! :o)

  2. Am salivating and wondering where I can get coleslaw when I am stuck at work until 7.30 tonight. I am craving the crunch!

  3. Do you remember me making one with caraway seeds sprinkled in? Delicious!

  4. yum, I love it with sausages-hadn't thought of it with cheese on toast though, great idea. I make huge bowls of it two or three times a week at work, always with spring onions, white cabbage, celery and carrots, and a dressing (think Nigellas?) of mayo, buttermilk and maple syrup. AMAZING.

    1. Gah! I'd forgotten that Nigella recipe - it's gorgeous.

  5. I'm the only one in our house who really loves coleslaw, and I'm craving some now!

    1. I'm now making some to bring along to Tracy's tomorrow - your craving shall be satisfied! x

  6. Love homemade coleslaw too. If the mood takes me I sometimes add chopped up small pieces of dried apricot or cranberries and even tried with chopped dried cherries - adds a contrast in flavour. But since a friend taught me how to make foolprooof mayo, I NEVER buy shop bought now, not even Maille (and I live in France !) Zena

    1. Oh yes, homemade mayo is in another league. I do make it occasionally, but the leftover egg whites annoy me, so not very often! I'm always chucking dried cranberries into things, but have not tried them in coleslaw before - that sounds good.

  7. I love homemade coleslaw too and agree about the onions. A finely sliced red chilli however works wonders.

  8. Homemade coleslaw is sooo much better then the shop bought ones...I don't mind spring onions or red onions in it (standard onions can be a bit strong though!) I usually do a whatever-is-lurking-in-the-fridge-coleslaw & add sunflower seeds or nuts too...
    If I'm making my own mayonnaise, I freeze the egg whites (to use for meringues at a later date- one egg white fits in a single portion of an ice cube tray)

    1. Ah, brilliant idea for the egg whites! I shall definitely do that next time. N xx

  9. I keep looking at that Asian coleslaw in the veg book.

  10. I came across your blog via Silverpebble and that lovely crafty bloggy day you had of which I am terribly envious! Coz I'm nosy I thought I would pop across and have a read! Inspired by the coleslaw I made some myself the other night which made a great change from 'ordinary' veg and sated some of my desire at the mo for raw fresh veg/salads. So I just wanted to say thank you for the prod in the right direction and how much I have enjoyed reading your blog.

    1. Thank you, Kate! I'm so glad to hear of another person on a coleslaw kick at the moment - I think everyone craves a bit of raw crunch at this casserole time of year.

  11. Mmmm! You're making me crave coleslaw! I very much dislike overly-mayonnaise-y slaw. Blech. I will have to try some of your stir-ins. Your base of mayo-yogurt is much like how I make it, too. Loved reading about the snow day, as well! :)



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