Hearty Winter Slaw

Last year, by the end of "winter"- and I'm putting that in quotations because this is Southern California after all- I was sick of winter vegetables. My favorite roasted butternut squash seemed overly sweet and mushy. I wanted no more potatoes, carrots, or parsnips and, for God's sake, no more turnips! Give me something crispy-crunchy! That was all I wanted.

But this year I've already found what I needed last year. A recipe for a salad so crispy, crunchy, and refreshing that it could revive any over-potatoed dinner table. And it uses winter veggies that many of us don't know how to use when we see them at the farmer's market, like radicchio, Napa cabbage, and celery (that's right, finally, celery has a place in something that isn't egg salad).

We have Los Angeles farmer's market maven Amelia Saltsman to thank for this. She knows the market inside and out, having literally written the book on it. (See the Santa Monica Farmer's Market Cookbook.) Now, Amelia has a new book, The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen, and it is beautiful, full of recipes that use and celebrate the abundance of California. 

This recipe makes a rather large amount of slaw, which I think would be perfect if you planned to make it for a holiday dinner. For regular days, I would halve it, but make the same amount of dressing since, let's be honest, more dressing, more better. I did wish for a little more dressing in the full batch I made. Also, don't get hung up on finding Bosc pears, other pears will work just as well, especially red, thin-skinned pears. The original recipe called for a big handful of arugula, but I found that unnecessary. I'd make it with just the ingredients below. 

Hearty Winter Slaw

From Amelia Saltsman's The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground white pepper (or black if you don't have it)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup walnut oil

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, cored
  • 1 small head radicchio, halved and cored (if it's big, use half)
  • 3 ribs of celery, with leaves
  • 2 Bosc pears
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

To make the dressing:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, salt, and several grinds of pepper, and whisk in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Whisk in the oil in a thin stream until the dressing is blended. (You can do this ahead, or make a bigger batch if you want to have dressing for salads all week. This is a sharp dressing, so add a little honey if you find it too tangy.)

To make the salad:

  1. Have a large bowl of ice water ready for crisping the vegetables. Using a sharp knife, cut the cabbage and radicchio crosswise into ribbons 1/4" to 1/2" wide and place in the ice water. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the outer side of the celery. (This is good but, if you don't feel like it, totally not necessary.) Lightly chop the leaves. Cut the celery ribs into thin slices and add to water. 
  2. Drain and dry the cabbage, radicchio, and celery. Place in a salad bowl. (The salad can be made up to this point up to 1 day ahead, covered, and refrigerated.)
  3. Up to 1 hour before serving, toss the salad with the dressing. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or lemon if needed. Just before serving, quarter and core the pears and cut lengthwise into thin slices. Add the pears and walnuts to the salad, toss, and serve.