HomeRecipesSaladA Simple Flex-Mex Coleslaw

A Simple Flex-Mex Coleslaw

I never really liked coleslaw, then began tinkering with this recipe, from Karlynn Johnson of The Magpie Kitchen. It has inspired a bushel of slaw so far. It has opened many culinary and nutritional doors for me.

My family, too. My mom never liked coleslaw, then she asked me to hurry up and write this recipe down. My son was seen serving more than the required “you need to taste it” tablespoon. He smiled sheepishly and told me to shut up. A few months later I heard that he and his best friend were jostling for rights to make the slaw.

Now I’m pretty sure cabbage is my spirit vegetable.

Before we get to the details, it’s important to talk about recipes as a template. With something like coleslaw none of these numbers is particularly hard and fast.

Look no further than the recipe that calls for “one cabbage.” I mean, have they ever actually been in a grocery store and seen the size range? Are we talking about a pomelo sized cabbage? Or a bowling ball sized cabbage?

You can use more veggies if you want a drier slaw, and less if you like more dressing. You can use less oil if that’s your dietary priority. More or less lime if you really dig that citrus tang. More or less pepper. More or less salt. More or less … you get the idea, right?


  • 1 small cabbage (bigger than a grapefruit; smaller than your head)
  • 2 medium to largish carrots
  • daikon radish in roughly similar quantity as the carrots


  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 2-3 limes (approximately ? cup fresh squeezed lime juice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon pepper
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil


1Slaw is not particularly difficult to make by hand, but nothing facilitates a love of slaw like a food processor. These directions favor the food processor, in part because if you’re doing it all by hand I’m pretty sure your kitchen chops are so strong you stopped reading after the ingredient section and are probably already cleaning up, a fresh batch of slaw in the bowl.

2So, wash the carrots and daikon. (You can peel if you must, but consuming the skins as well means you’re not throwing away their high micronutrient content. Which you should be thinking about especially if you can’t eat nightshades because it means you’re able to eat fewer vegetables overall, so maximizing your exposure to the vegetables you can eat seems like a best dietary practice.)

3Peel back the cabbage so you’ve got a clean surface. Slice, shred, or julienne the cabbage, daikon, and carrots. You may have your own preference about shred size, based on your own history with slaw. I prefer the julienne setting on my food processor over a grating blade. When you grate a vegetable the pieces are smaller, and there is a little more crushing involved. In the short term that’s great, as the dressing can assimilate faster into the slaw. But I suspect this also reduces shelf life by a day or two, and since I often make enough slaw to last most of the week, I like my vegetable pieces a little bit bigger.

4Here’s the real point of departure from the original recipe: more cilantro. I prefer to use the whole bunch for several reasons. Practically speaking, I too often lose track of the contents of my fridge, so that a partly used bunch of herbs can wilt in my fridge until it’s consigned to the compost. Also, I like to use pretty much the whole bunch, stems and all, another facet of eating the whole vegetable.

5For the cilantro, you want to trim the ends, and pick out any black or otherwise nasty leaves. Then separate the leaves from the stems, and toss the stems with the garlic into the food processor. You don’t actually have to hand separate every leaf from every stem. Chop the top third of the bunch, dropping the bottom two-thirds in your processor. Pulse until you have pulverized the stems, adding a bit of the liquid as you go to facilitate a smooth running machine. Reserving 1 lime, add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly. At the end, drop the leafy final third of the cilantro in and pulse briefly until the leaves are roughly chopped, but not pulverized like the stems.

6Toss the julienned vegetables and the dressing together in a large bowl until the salad is completely coated. Add juice from the remaining lime to taste. (You’re very likely to use the whole thing, but it’s best to wait because this is your last chance to easily adjust the sweet-to-tart ratio.)

7Slaw is best assembled at least three hours before serving. It can sit, covered, at room temperature for a couple of hours while the oil and acids macerate with the vegetable base, but should be refrigerated if it’s going to be longer before serving.


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