Sweet Winter Slaw

January 31, 2012

There are certain things you can count on in life.  The sun will rise, the sun will set.  You will pay taxes.  Unless you have the stomach flu, you will be hungry at some point today.  You know how it goes.  There are also certain things you can count on here on the Dana Treat site.  There will be vegetarian food, there will be chocolate, and about every three months, there will be talk of a Bainbridge yoga retreat.

It is hard for both Jen and me to believe, but May will be our three year anniversary of doing these retreats together.  If you are new here, Bainbridge Island is a magical haven just across Puget Sound from Seattle.  There is a ferry that takes you from our downtown waterfront to the island in about 35 minutes.  My friend Jen, who I have known since 7th grade, lives there and teaches yoga in a studio on her property.  Over three years ago, she told me about her dream of quarterly day-long retreats.  She asked if I would want to partner with her four times a year.  She would provide the space, the yoga instruction, someone to guide meditation or other exercise, and I would make lunch for everyone.  I love Jen.  She is one of my closest friends.  I wanted to help and I also wanted to participate.

So in May of 2009, we launched.  It took me a few retreats to figure out how to get everything done the day before so I could actually participate in the morning yoga session.  Now it goes a little something like this.  I take a 7:55am ferry to the island, drive to Jen’s house, and then spend the time before the 9:30am start unloading my car and getting the kitchen set up.  I find a spot for my mat and towel in the studio and after a short intro of the retreat’s theme (this time it was nourishment), the hot yoga portion starts.  I don’t practice hot yoga at home but I really love doing it on occasion.  Jen is a dear friend of mine but believe me when I tell you that she is a most incredible instructor.  Her own practice is so strong and such a part of her that she teaches from a place of curiosity, experience, and joy.  She talks like a normal person and wherever she takes you, you want to go.  One of my favorite things she said this time was, “Starve the negativity.  If you don’t feed it, it can’t survive”.  Another, while we were in a challenging pose, “If you are talking to yourself in your head right now, make sure you are saying something nice”.

At the end of the hot yoga portion, people take a bathroom and water break before a meditation portion, and I book it up to the house for a quick shower and to set up the lunch.  People are starving by the time they get to me, so I have learned to have nibbles out and at the ready in case I am still putting the finishing touches on the food.  I’ve made a completely different lunch every retreat.  I’m proud of that.  People are incredibly grateful for the food and I love spending the time getting to know this amazing community better.

There is always a little downtime after lunch, so I usually chat or start on the clean up.  Some people take a walk, some find a nook and read a book.  Before we all know it, it’s time for the second yoga class of the day.  Our tummies are gurgling a bit and we are all sleepy so it is to Jen’s immense credit that she can get us back in the studio and back in downward dog.  Before we know it, we are back in the flow – just hard enough to make it exciting but not so hard that we regret taking a second cookie.  It is an invigorating end to an amazing day.  I have cried at almost every one of these retreats and I am not a crier.  It is so incredible to take a day to yourself, to spend it with a dear friend, to do the work in yoga, to immerse yourself in an amazing community, to be surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, and to eat wonderful and healthy food (if I do say so myself).  At the end of it all, you wait for a ferry, book and flashlight in hand, and commute back home on the water.  Even the coming and going is magical.

Now that most of these people know me and many read my blog, they always want to know which dishes I’ve made are either on my blog or will be posted there soon.  I got many questions about the chocolate chip cookies of course.  People were also crazy for this winter slaw.  I’m not surprised.  I taught this slaw twice last week in classes.  It comes from our good friend Plenty and it totally changed my opinion about slaws.  Like many, I’m not a coleslaw fan because mayo is not my friend, but I haven’t ever really liked any slaw I have made or tried.  I’m in love with this one.  Two different types of cabbage, some buttery sweet nuts, sweet mango, and a bit of kick from a red chiles make this an intoxicating slaw.  There are also lots of herbs and a dressing you will want to make a double batch of and use for many different things.  I tweaked.  Cashews instead of macadamia nuts, no papaya (those things freak me out), more green cabbage, more herbs.  My recipe below reflects those changes.

As if the flavors and the color were not enough to recommend this slaw, I will tell you this.  It keeps well.  I can’t think of another salad or salad type thing that I would want to eat a day after, or even an hour after, it has been dressed.  But we munched on this one happily two days after I made it.  Even the nuts were still crunchy!  Finally, this is not a slaw you want to underdress.  I am usually very sensitive about too much dressing on my salads or salad type things, but if you don’t use enough dressing on this one, it’s a little hard to choke down.  That red cabbage needs a good soaking.

One Year Ago:  Simply Sweet Diamints and Spicy Pasta with Broccoli and Cauliflower
Two Years Ago:  White Bean Dip and Caramel Cake
Three Years Ago:  Guacamole

Sweet Winter Slaw
Adapted from Plenty
Serves 6-8

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 lemongrass stalk, chopped
3 tbsp. maple syrup
2 tbsp. roasted sesame oil
1 tbsp. soy sauce
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
4 tbsp. canola oil

1 tbsp. butter
¾ cup raw cashews
2 tbsp. sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
½ a head Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
½ a head red cabbage, finely shredded
2 medium mangoes, peeled and cut into thin strips
1 fresh red chile, deseeded and finely chopped
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

First, make the dressing.  Place all the ingredients, except the sesame oil and canola oil, in a small saucepan and reduce over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, or until thick and syrupy.  Remove from the heat.  Once cooled down, strain the sauce into a bowl and whisk in the oils.  Set aside.  (Dressing can be made up to one week in advance.  Store in the refrigerator.)

Melt the butter in a small saucepan or sauté pan over medium heat.  Add the cashews and toast them, shaking the pan frequently until they start to brown.  Sprinkle on the sugar and stir constantly until the sugar is melted and starting to turn brown.  Scrape the mixture out onto a sheet of parchment paper and allow to cool and harden.  Chop coarsely.

Place the shredded cabbage in a large mixing bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients, including the nuts.  Add the dressing and toss together.  Taste and add more salt if necessary.


  1. This looks delicious! You have butter listed twice in the slaw ingredients. Is the 2 tbsp butter supposed to be 2 tbsp sugar? I made your no knead olive bread yesterday, so good!

    Comment by Kali — January 31, 2012 @ 5:30 am

  2. Fixed, sorry!

    Comment by dana — January 31, 2012 @ 5:41 am

  3. This sounds so yummy! I love mangoes in salad.

    Comment by Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar — January 31, 2012 @ 11:24 am

  4. These retreats sound amazing as does the winter slaw.

    Comment by bellini — January 31, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  5. Wow, this looks so amazing! Something light and fresh but still wintery and comforting, well done! Maria from Two Peas forwarded me your site and I absolutely love it! Thanks for the awesome recipes.

    Comment by kelley {mountain mama cooks} — January 31, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

  6. I made this salad last week too – also, skipping the papaya because I too feel that it is kind of freaky – this slaw is marvelous! I made the caramelized macadamias which I thought would be too much work – they were not! Just a lovely and delicious little detail that made the whole salad. I am sure the cashews were similarly excellent.

    Comment by Sarah — January 31, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

  7. I’m not usually a fan of restaurant coleslaw but love a good homemade one like this!

    Comment by Ashley — January 31, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

  8. Oh how I wish I could attend these retreats! The whole day just sounds completely relaxing and inspiring.

    Comment by Clara — January 31, 2012 @ 10:30 pm

  9. This salad is on my list of things to make and it’s funny, the substitutions you made were pretty much spot on to the ones I was thinking! Glad to know they work : ) I’ll be making this soon!

    Comment by Jacqui — January 31, 2012 @ 10:37 pm

  10. Dana,
    Just loved this post about the yoga retreat! It is a magical day and you are so lucky to have such a special friend like Jen. Will make the coleslaw. It was YUMMY!!!!:)
    Thank you!

    Comment by Deborah — February 1, 2012 @ 12:58 am

  11. I do always love hearing about your yoga retreats, especially what food you’ve made for them. It sounds so inspirational…all of it.

    I’ve never made a slaw that I particularly liked either but, of course, leave it to Ottolenghi to provide one. I obviously need to try this. That man is a genius.

    Comment by Joanne — February 1, 2012 @ 2:10 am

  12. oh dana i just heart you
    i do love your photos of dark seattle.
    its just like dark cape cod.
    i’m sorry i did not look at the slaw, just the happy buddha & ferry.
    my grandparents live up on magnolia blvd in seattle. do you know that area? so damn pretty with great views.

    Comment by vanillasugarblog — February 1, 2012 @ 11:57 pm

  13. Love the crunch in this slaw! Very nice!

    Comment by Maria — February 2, 2012 @ 3:25 am

  14. That dressing sounds so good, I’ll have to try it soon.

    Comment by Helene — February 2, 2012 @ 11:39 pm

  15. This slaw is so yummy, I have been addicted to it since I discovered it in Yotam Ottolenghi’s book, Plenty! Such a brilliant cookbook, I gave to all my foodie friends for Christmas. Sounds like you have enjoyed his book as well.

    Comment by Leslie — February 3, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

  16. So deicious! Plenty is such a wonderful cookbook. I just recently made a cabbage salad today with sauteed tempeh. This salad looks delicious too!

    Comment by Willa — February 6, 2012 @ 2:38 am

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