Monday, April 21, 2014

Not Iceberg, Napa Cabbage Garden Salad

Salads are great. To me, there is just something civilized about sitting down, being on the go or even entertaining friends and eating a well composed salad. Don’t be fooled, salads can be as few or as many ingredients as there are types of lettuces or vegetables. Warm ones, cold ones, I enjoy salads.

This salad takes a turn.  We’re switching up our base. Nothing against the iceberg lettuce, I can wrap myself around a wedge salad as much as anyone else who loves its freshness against rich blue cheese and crispy bacon, or as the ubiquitous base of a garden salad. BUT THIS garden salad is taken to a different level of texture and healthiness by just swapping out lettuce for CABBAGE.
If garden salad and coleslaw had a child, this salad would be their first.

So, take a chance, try something new. Play with your food. Let’s start with your lettuce, make it CABBAGE.
Make it this Napa Cabbage Garden Salad.

Napa Cabbage Garden Salad
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, November 2007
Dressing: LimeAvocado Ranch Dressing
Yield: Serves 6, main course or 12, side dish

The Method: The Ingredients

1 large Napa cabbage
4 celery stalks
1 orange pepper
1 lb. package of small vine ripened tomatoes (approximately 13 small tomatoes)
1 large bunch of fresh radishes (approximately 15 small to medium radishes)
Keeping it Real Disclosure: Next time, I’ll add carrots. Long matchstick cuts on a bunch of thin sweet fresh carrots would have been great. I didn’t feel as if this salad was necessarily missing them, I just love them in garden salads. We encourage being flexible with your ingredients. I used what I had immediately available in our refrigerator. I encourage you to do the same. Waste not, want not.

The Madness: The Assembly

Prepare your vegetables.

Napa cabbage: If you’re unfamiliar, it is indeed a cabbage. It is a vegetable predominantly used in Asian preparations. It is leafy with layers much like regular green or red cabbage; however, it is long and oval in shape. Raw, I find that Napa cabbage leaves are thinner, and have a frilly texture when compared with green or red cabbage. I also believe that they have a more subtle taste. 

Cut the bottom root end off of your cabbage. I think this cores off much of the bottom end, which is still quite tender, but save it for stock rather than this salad. Slice the Napa cabbage in half long ways, I removed it layer, washing them individually. Dry the leaves. If you have a salad spinner, all the better, use it. To shred the cabbage, stack the leaves, and slice across them creating thin ribbon strips.

Celery and Tomatoes: Wash and dry the vegetables. Call me crazy, but I destring celery. I think the thing that keeps most people from using more celery is getting the stringy bits caught in their teeth. I come from a family of celery destringers; as such I do so, and encourage you to try just to see if you notice a more appealing difference. Some folks use a vegetable peeler to get rid of the woodsy stringiness. I think this wastes more celery than necessary. I slice off the rooted end of the celery. Place your peeling knife at the base of the celery just at the edge, make a small slit. With your thumb and index finger carefully pinch the edge of the celery and your peeling knife as if you’re going to physically peel your celery; however, it becomes more of a “destringing” processing. Pull down and you’ll see the string. Slice each celery stalk in half and cut across down the length of each. I reserved any celery leaves to garnish the salad. The tomatoes were removed from their stems, washed and sliced in half.

Radishes: Not just for restaurant salad bars, radishes are edible root vegetables that are often sold fresh still attached to their green leafy tops. They can range in color from white, red, to even purple. I enjoy radishes raw or pickled, though I’ve heard great things about them roasted. Washing radishes remind me of cleaning carrots. Get in there to get the grit out. Trim the root ends; however, I find that I don’t peel radishes the way I might carrots. I sliced the radishes in half, then across in half-moon shapes depending on the size of the radish.

The orange peppers, I washed, dried, deseeded, sliced across in half, half again, and then sliced thin strips from each quarter. Easy peasy.

To make this salad even simpler to prepare, I created a layered effect so that I wouldn’t have to toss the salad in the end. Once I prepped each vegetable, I spread it on top of the bed of Napa cabbage.
Oh, and just as I thought there wasn’t anything more that I could say about this salad.
You’ll like this: Store any leftovers in an airtight container, and you’ll have lunch for up to a week!
As always, Enjoy!
xo, Bon Appégeechee


  1. Love that you used Napa Cabbage instead of iceberg! I'm always having to switch my salads up so I don't get bored.

  2. This salad sounds delicious! I'm actually not a fan of iceberg, so I'm glad you used cabbage. Variety is key!