Super-Fresh Thai Cabbage Salad

Cabbage: one of the world's most under-appreciated vegetables. It has such a bad reputation.

But no! Cabbage is actually an incredibly versatile veggie. It has big, robust leaves, which can stand up to bold dressing that would wilt or overpower other greens. If left raw and cut into thin strips, these leaves can pack a huge flavor punch and really excel with citrus-forward or vinegar-forward dressings or marinades. Even better, cabbage has a long shelf life, making it perfect for having on-hand or for prepping in advance.

Let's celebrate this humble veggie with a super-fresh salad!

Or is it a slaw? Hmm, I'll let you decide. But in any case, this salad/slaw is remarkably bright and herbaceous, with ample lime, cilantro, and mint. It takes the cabbage stereotype (boiled in some sort of stinky stew?) and turns it on its head, creating a dish that is flavor-packed, fresh, crisp, and so versatile.

The star of this salad is, of course, the cabbage. But I like combining it with other fresh, crunchy veggies like carrot ribbons and cucumber for a greater diversity of textures and flavors. Use what you have on hand- snow peas would be lovely, or maybe very thin ribbons of jicama? Some slices of mango add a perfect sweetness.

Let's talk about cabbage for a second. There are numerous kinds. The round heads of green and purple cabbage have thicker leaves that often need to be tamed a bit with cooking or a longer duration of marinading. This salad uses Napa cabbage (see photo below), which has an elongate head and more tender and fluffy leaves. It excels in raw preparations like this, and doesn't require time to sit and tenderize. If you have someone in your life who is skeptical of cabbage, start with Napa.

The flavors of this salad are loosely southeast Asian: lime, a dash of sesame oil, mint, cilantro, peanuts, mango. It's sort of like Pad Thai went on a raw foods tropical beach vacation. The lime juice and herbs make the salad so fresh, while the sesame oil provides a subtle nutty and savory note.

This salad would be a great side for the next time you grill. But it can also function as a main course, or as a bed for your protein of choice. It would be delightful with some grilled tofu on top as a light, cool summer dinner. However you choose to enjoy it, let's make sure to give cabbage the love it deserves!

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram. 

Looking for other salads that can be a side dish for omnivores and a main dish for herbivores? This Roasted Corn, Avocado, and Strawberry Salad is just as fresh and versatile.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)

For the Salad
  • Napa cabbage. I use half a head, since the heads are sometimes enormous, so all the rest of the ingredients are based upon that assumption. Adjust as needed based on the size of your cabbage. Note that some stores will cut a head in half for you, so that you don't need to buy an absurd amount.
  • One or two carrots
  • A few Persian cucumbers. Regular cuke will work fine too, but I love the mini ones, they're so cute. If you use regular, I'd go with one of the English ones so you can keep the skin on.
  • Mango
  • Big handful of cilantro
  • Small handful of mint
  • Roasted/salted peanuts. For sprinkling on top!
For the Dressing
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 tbsp honey. If you're completely plant-based, I think agave would be the best substitution because of its mild flavor.
  • 0.25-0.5 tsp sesame oil
  • Generous salt and pepper
  • (Optional dash of sriracha). Personally speaking, I prefer this salad to be bright and citrusy, without heat. But if you love spice, I think sriracha would be the best option since it has such lovely floral/fruity notes.
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. In a large mixing bowl (to which you'll eventually add everything else), mix up your dressing.
  2. Prep your cabbage by cutting it into thin ribbons. I like to do this by taking half a head, putting it cut-side down, and slicing perpendicular to the stem. Aim for slices about a pencil width in thickness for easy eating.
  3. Prep your carrots by first removing the skin, then using a peeler to create ribbons.
  4. Toss both the cabbage and the carrot in the dressing, and let it sit while you work on the other ingredients. These veggies are hearty enough to stand up to the dressing for a while, and will get a bit softer if they sit. If you want to prep the salad the day before, I'd stop here.
  5. Cut the cucumbers into rounds, setting aside a few for garnish
  6. Cut up the mango into thin ribbons so that it mimics the shape of the cabbage and carrots.
  7. Prep herbs by giving the cilantro a rough chop and cutting the mint into very thin ribbons; both are immensely easier and yield a better outcome with a super-sharp knife to avoid bruising the delicate leaves.
  8. Add the cucumber, mango, and herbs into the salad and give it all a good mix.
  9. Plate the salad in a serving bowl or on a platter, and garnish with a big handful of roasted/salted peanuts. You could also garnish with a few herb leaves, and/or some pretty slices of cuke and mango as shown above.


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