With all the hot weather that’s been around, salad is definitely on the menu. If you find it hard to think up quick and tasty alternatives to satisfy the taste-buds, this crunchy red cabbage and walnut mix will hit the spot.
I love red cabbage, and enjoy it just as much raw as cooked. My family are not so keen however, as it does have quite a pungent, bitter taste. That’s actually all the marvellous phytonutrients packed within the crisp leaves. Bitter flavours often contain the most medicinal properties, but most of us are not so keen on them. Many types of produce have been cultivated to remove the bitterness to make them more palatable for the general market – think how harsh brussel sprouts used to be. Nowadays they tend to be small and sweet, unlike the tough, bitter bullets I remember from my childhood.
So although these veggies taste more delicious, some of their healing properties have been removed. Not that it’s a waste of time eating them, far from it. They’re not just quite as helpful as they used to be.
One way to make raw cabbage less bitter, and therefore more palatable, is to let it marinate in something salty or acidic for a while. Sauerkraut for example tastes much less bitter, plus contains helpful friendly bacteria from natural fermentation, but it takes a while to make. Leaving cabbage to soak in an acidic dressing for a short period of time does the job really well – and keeps the satisfying crunch too.
Vinegar works well, but for anyone like me who cannot tolerate fermented products that’s not an option. I prefer to keep it simple – fresh lemon juice does the job just as well. Add a little salt and the two combine to help draw out some of the fluid and bitterness, making the cabbage slightly softer and easy one the palate. Try to remember to marinate for a minimum of an hour – longer is even better. But if you forget, do it as soon as you can then finish off constructing the salad at the last minute.
This also works for raw onion. It seems to help make it more digestible and less repeatable later on in the day, something many people suffer from. I’ve used red onion in this recipe, partly because it’s slightly less harsh than yellow but mainly because the red pigments contains extra super-healthy phytonutrients and anti-oxidants.
If you have a nut allergy or intolerance, then walnuts can be replaced with toasted pumpkin seeds. Try and find some big ones to stand out in the salad. Or if you wish to dress it up, add some gorgeous sparkly pomegranate seeds or dairy-free feta or labneh cheese.
That’s it! So with the weather to stay warm for the foreseeable future, why not give this super crunchy simple salad a go? Let me know how you get on.
Red cabbage and walnut salad (4-6 servings)
1/3 medium-sized red cabbage, finely shredded
1 medium red or white onion, finely sliced
50g walnuts, lightly toasted
1 big lemon, juice only
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or flaxseed oil
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed fresh herbs (I used parsley, coriander and mint)
Place the red cabbage and onion together in a large bowl. Use you fingers to ensure they are combined well. Whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper together in a small jug then pour it into the bowl. Toss well to ensure everything is coated, then leave to marinate.
When you’re ready to serve, add the chopped herbs and walnuts, season with a little extra black pepper, toss together well and serve. That’s it! Enjoy.