Harmonious Jalapeno Basil Coleslaw

When it comes to food, people have very definitive opinions about how certain dishes should be prepared; the most controversial among these are pizza, barbecued ribs, potato salad and cole slaw. With the latter, it seems there is even disagreement about the origin of its name. While some historian believe  the name comes from the Dutch kool sla for "cabbage salad," others contend that it is derived from kohl schlagl which is German for “cabbage chopped.”

For the purposes of this discussion, we shall define cole slaw (or coleslaw) to mean chopped or shredded cabbage covered in a dressing that includes at least a splash of vinegar. This is apparently where the friction begins. It seems that slaw purists add only dressing or mayonnaise (which technically is a dressing that contains vinegar), while others are adamant that carrots, raisins, pickles, relish, pineapple and even cheese be included.

Now to my way of thinking, celery seed is the greatest abomination to ever grace a spice cabinet not to mention a bowl of coleslaw, yet Dom is a fan - thus a minor example of the discord that slaw can cause. You all may also recall that Dom is NOT a fan of mayonnaise: this recipe is our matrimonial compromise. It is spicy and full of fresh herbal flavor (with no mayonnaise or celery seeds!)

  • 1 lb. (about 4 cups) red and/or white cabbage, shaved
  • 1/2 red onion, shaved very thin
  • 1-3 carrots, grated
  • 2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and sliced very tin
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

  • Vinaigrette:

  • 1 cup loosely-packed basil leaves
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pan toasted to
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

In a large bowl, place cabbage, carrot, jalapenos, and cilantro leaves. If the red onion is too sharp, rinse in cold water before adding to the cabbage mixture. Chill until ready to serve.

In a blender or food processor, place basil, shallot, toasted garlic, and oil. Blend until smooth. Add honey, vinegar, salt, and pepper and pulse to fully combine. Pour over slaw at least 5 minutes before serving. The slaw takes on a different texture (almost like kimchi) when it marinades in the dressing, in some cases we like it better this way. This gluten-free slaw is awesome served alone or with barbecued ribs, on pulled pork sandwiches, and in fish tacos!