Coleslaw All Year Long–made with yogurt!

Coleslaw is a summertime food, right?  It’s true that it makes a tasty accompaniment to burgers or cold sandwiches, and its chilly crunch is refreshing on a hot day.

But the main ingredient in coleslaw is cabbage, and in temperate climates cabbage is in season (therefore, inexpensive) in the autumn and winter.  It makes sense to enjoy coleslaw in cold weather, too, especially if you don’t like cooked cabbage so much.  Coleslaw makes a perfect side dish for fish, and who wants to bake fish in the summer?  Try a cozy winter meal of fish, coleslaw, and maybe some biscuits or cornbread.

Six years ago, I found a recipe for Copycat KFC Coleslaw that we really liked, but it calls for buttermilk and mayonnaise.  We never have buttermilk on hand, and we rarely have mayonnaise.  So I substituted plain yogurt for both, and that was pretty good, but I often wound up tweaking the coleslaw by adding more of this or that, taking notes.  Now I’ve worked out a yogurt-based recipe that consistently comes out well.

The Earthling’s Coleslaw Recipe

For best results, make this recipe at least 2 hours before you plan to eat it.  The flavors combine better with time.

First, grate your cabbage and measure to see how much you have.  (To get short shreds for KFC-style texture, grate the cabbage in a food processor and then put it through a second time.)  This recipe is set up for 8 cups of cabbage; if you have more or less, adjust the quantities of other ingredients accordingly.  If your cabbage is not quite enough (say, 7 1/2 cups), you can fill in with raw kale or apple.

  • 8 cups finely grated cabbage
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. prepared yellow mustard
  • (if needed) a few Tbsp. milk

After grating and measuring the cabbage, wash and trim the carrots and finely grate them.

Combine all the other ingredients (except milk) in a large mixing bowl and whisk until smooth.  It can take a while to dissolve the sugar.

Set aside the whisk and use a big spoon to mix the vegetables thoroughly into the sauce.  Sample a bite.  You may want to add a bit more of something–usually pepper or vinegar, in my experience.

If the coleslaw seems too dry or clumpy, mix in milk a little at a time.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Store leftovers without much air in the container, and eat it all within 4 days.

Why are cabbages so big? I can’t eat so much coleslaw!

We’ve had this problem!  There are only 4 people in our family (one of whom is a very small person), and the cabbages we get from our farm share typically produce abut 12 cups shredded.  Even if you love coleslaw, you probably eat less than 1 cup per meal and don’t want to eat it day after day until it’s gone.  There are two good solutions to this problem.

One option is to make coleslaw as your contribution to a potluck meal.  Bring the amount you think people will eat, and leave the rest at home for tomorrow’s dinner.  (This is a better strategy than bringing home leftovers: Even without mayo, coleslaw is a food that degrades rapidly at room temperature.)

My usual approach is to save the cabbage for the weekend each month when my church brings dinner to a homeless shelter.  (An intact head of cabbage will last a month or more in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer.)  I set aside 2 or 3 cups of coleslaw for my family to eat with Sunday’s dinner, and I pack up the rest for the shelter.  We get to enjoy coleslaw without getting tired of it, and we’re making a contribution to the community without any extra effort beyond remembering to take the big box of coleslaw to church.

Visit the Hearth & Soul Hop for more great food ideas!

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