How to Master the Shredded Veggie Salad

You’ve had coleslaw time and again, served over burgers and po’ boys, with grilled shrimp and ribs. At its core, coleslaw is just a shredded vegetable salad, and it’s a tasty one at that. But you can make shredded salads with all sorts of great fruits and vegetables and never get bored with them. And since we’re just rolling into the warm season right now, it won’t hurt to have a few extra dishes up your sleeve that are ready for burgers and the grill. Read on for tips on how to master the shredded veggie salad.

Start with shredded veggies.

First off, select the main vegetables for your salad. Of course, cabbage is the classic choice for a shredded slaw, but it is far from being the only choice. Just a few of the other great options out there include carrots, summer squash, winter squash, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, jicama, apples, pears, kohlrabi, kale, winter greens, or cucumber. Basically, if you can shred it, it can go in this salad. Pick whichever vegetables—or fruits, like apples!—you like to pair together for your salad base.

Add filler ingredients for color and flavor.

Once you’ve got your vegetables shredded, you need to jazz them up with filler ingredients. These will add color, texture, and interesting flavor to your salad. Think of chopped fresh herbs, dried fruits, grated or crumbled cheeses, and chopped nuts. The more of these you add to your salad, the more vibrant and complex it will become. Have fun playing around with it!

Make a dressing: cream-based or vinaigrette.

Now you need a dressing, and you can take it the creamy route or vinaigrette. Creamy dressings tend to go well with hearty shredded vegetables like cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts because they add softness to the more bitter flavor of those foods. Ranch-style or cheese-based creamy dressings are especially good with shredded green salads. Of course, vinaigrettes will be just as good in there, and these dressings can also complement any lighter-bodied shredded salad. Simplest is best with vinaigrettes, so stick to olive oil and cooking acid of choice—citrus juice, balsamic vinegar, or apple cider vinegar—and just a dab of mustard and honey and seasonings.

Toss and serve or store.

Once you’ve selected and prepared a dressing, toss the whole thing together until well combined. Serve it right away for a more punchy, crunchy salad, or cover it and let it hang out in the fridge for a few hours (or even overnight) for the flavors to really marry and become a bit more mellow. Either way, serve cold and enjoy.

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Image from Flickr, simpleprovisions, CC BY 2.0