I’m a persistent student of what to have for lunch. With this little salad, I think I’ve reached a new grade level. It’s light but substantial, fun yet everyday, colorful and full of vegetables. Like kale, cabbage is a great base for a make-ahead salad because it becomes more delicious the longer it marinates (rather than soggier).
I serve a slaw of some sort at almost every summer party I host or contribute to. Cabbage is simultaneously hearty and cheap, so grabbing a head or two before a party, slicing it up, and dressing the shreds means you’ll have a vegetarian-friendly, healthful hit on your hands without a lot of work done or money spent. Win.
Over the years, I’ve experimented with different slaw dressings, from cool, creamy mayo-based sauces to sweet vinaigrettes punctuated with fresh herbs. This one, infused with ginger and hot pepper, made tangy with rice vinegar, and sweetened with some sugar, has always been one of my favorites. You heat the dressing before pouring it over the cabbage, a technique that snatches the rawness from the vegetable and leaves it silky yet crunchy.
When lunch rolls around, though, a side-dish-style slaw is not always enough. The real innovation here is the apparently random handful of cooked quinoa, which gives the slaw heft, protein, and the carbs you need to get through the afternoon. A generous portion of peanuts complements the Southeast Asian-inspired flavors and contributes both more protein and more crunch.