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Category: Kitchen: Veggies and Salads

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How to Make Great (not just good) Coleslaw

By Charlie Burke

Coleslaw often seems to be an afterthought, cloyingly sweet and either too wet or dry. With the correct balance of acidity and sweetness and with proper seasoning, however, it can shine.

I realized this when a college friend of our son Michael introduced me to someone, saying: "...he makes the best coleslaw." I was taken aback because it had been over a year since he had eaten at our house! The coarsely ground pepper and celery seeds add essential flavor, and I prefer using equal parts of regular and low fat mayonnaise (Cains in our home), although feel free to use either alone. Mixing the salt, pepper and celery seeds with the shredded cabbage and carrots before adding the mayonnaise mixture ensures their even distribution.

Look for a shiny dense head of cabbage and use crisp fresh carrots, both of which are available even in winter months. The sweetness of both vegetables will vary, so you may want to add a small amount of sugar or vinegar when tasting after the final mixing.

3 large carrots, grated
1 head green cabbage, shredded or chopped in a food processor
1/2 cup white vinegar
3/4  cup each regular and low fat mayonnaise or 1 cup of either
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2  teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoon whole celery seeds

In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar thoroughly. In a large bowl, mix carrots and cabbage well, then toss with the salt, pepper and celery seed until evenly distributed. Pour in dressing and toss. Taste and adjust seasoning. Refrigerate (up to 24 hours) if not serving immediately.

An organic farmer and avid cook, writer Charlie Burke is the vice president of the New Hampshire Farmer's Market Association ( His column & recipes appear weekly in The Heart of New England's newsletter... get a free subscription by sending a blank email to: or visit


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