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Chop and Serve Slaws

Martha Stewart Living, June 2004

When leafy salads begin to wilt at summer picnics, turn to a more reliable option: coleslaw, the portable dish that seems to be at the heart of any such gathering. Coleslaw may be as American as apple pie, but many other cultures have their own slaws -- crisp shredded vegetables marinated in brisk dressings. Coleslaw is derived from the Dutch "koolsla," meaning "cabbage salad." "Cole" refers to the vegetables of the Brassica family -- also called cole crops -- which, in addition to cabbage, include kale, broccoli, and kohlrabi, among others.

The peppery bite of raw cabbage meshes beautifully with the sweet-tart flavor of the classic mayonnaise-based dressing. But why leave it at that? So many other vegetables, and even fruits, can be part of a fantastic slaw. The dressings can be mild and creamy or thin and vibrant; the textures, super chunky or as fine as angel's hair. The important thing is to personalize a slaw to your taste. It's a sure way to bring color and originality to your backyard picnics.

Recipes
Classic Creamy Coleslaw
Cabbage and Radish Slaw with Peanut Dressing

Tools To Use
Chef's Knife
A knife gives you the most control over your slaw's texture. First, cut off one side of the vegetable so it lies flat -- this way it won't roll.

Food Processor
With the slicing-disc attachment, you can make fine, uniform pieces quickly. You will, of course, have more equipment to clean.

Box Grater
This tool gives you fine, short pieces. It requires some elbow grease but no chopping skills. Cut large vegetables into wedges beforehand.