chopped tangy garden slaw

I’m taking a big breath and getting back to the blog. Sorry to be sort of missing in action, but as some of you know, the last 8 months have been a whirlwind, to put it mildly. No, a whirlwind is cute—it’s Mary Tyler Moore-ish, it’s Holy Go Lightly on a spree in Manhattan. What happened to to me was more like a tornado. Costly and destructive and cathartic.  The events and circumstances of this last year could have put any sane person over the edge, but since most people wouldn’t use that word to describe me anyway, I guess I rolled with moving from rural NJ to Brooklyn and then moving back 6 months later, along with all the accompanying chaos, and still managed to avoid a nervous breakdown. The cooking kept me on an even keel, I suppose. Food has a way of grounding me. Thankfully, through it all, My FoodFix business has thrived and I’m out teaching 3-4 days a week, doing cooking parties, bridal showers, one-on-one teaching and cooking demos and loving it!

And my Chopped episode finally happened! I taped the show last week! It was so mind-blowing to be on the set of Chopped, after watching nearly 100 episodes of the show in the last few months while preparing—thanks to online episodes and DVR—and being the big, star-struck fan of the show that I am! It was an amazing opportunity and experience. Of course, due to the confidentiality agreement I signed, I cannot talk about the details or the results, but I can just say I’m over-the-moon happy with my performance and will be very proud to watch the show, and have you all watch it, when it airs. I don’t have an air date yet, but will keep you all posted. They shoot a lot of episodes at once, in advance, so it could be a while.

Now enough with the mea culpa’s and the excuses. Let’s get cooking, pah-leese! One great by-product of practicing and preparing for Chopped was that I tweaked, tested, tasted and timed myself doing dozens of quick and delicious recipes, so I have a lot to share with you over the coming posts.

It’s summer and I am using every excuse to not turn on my oven indoors and use the grill, so I’ll be posting some grill recipes shortly too. Between the huge farmers market just a few blocks from my husbands office in Manhattan, the great farmers markets and small farms out where we live, and my little patch of an abundant herb and vegetable garden in my yard (oh, I missed my yard in Brooklyn, I missed my yard!) I’m drunk on the kaleidescope of color from which to choose from.

What I love about this slaw is that it’s so colorful and the flavors pop. Even my daughter called it “pretty” and agreed to try it. It’s nothing like the white on white, mayo and sugar variety of slaw we’ve come to know and leave behind as a pushed aside side-kick to burgers and deli sandwiches.

This slaw is a testimony to summer and will wake up your senses and your mouth with it’s tangy hot sauce, cayenne, dijon and apple cider vinegar pucker. It’s balanced with a little honey, celery seed and walnut oil. It’s not a side dish you can ignore.


I served it with grilled burgers last night and noticed Doug (the hubby) going back to his slaw over and over (not a small thing coming from a person who describes every burger meal as “the best meal he has ever had”) and actually having seconds. And I did too. I can’t wait to try it again today with 24 hours of soaking and softening in the dressing. It should be even better.

I changed up this recipe from a traditional slaw in that I partially cooked two of the elements…the red onions and the multi-colored peppers. I’m like that really picky judge on Chopped, Scott Conant, (I was ready for him, but didn’t get him, thank you God,) who takes down any contestant that serves him raw onions. I don’t know what his deal is, but I can’t eat them either. They mess up my stomach and repeat on me like a relentless “on hold” message that is “sorry to keep you waiting”….but does so, nonetheless. Same with raw peppers. So I blanch the onions and I lightly roasted the peppers coated with a drizzle of olive oil and kosher salt. The result is the onion essence without the reruns and the peppers had a heightened sweetness, and a mellower texture to contrast the crunch of the cabbage, carrots and peanuts.

So…here’s my homage to summer’s seasonal bounty and to my CHOPPED experience…a recipe that will take you no time at all to prepare, but is a winner!

chopped tangy garden slaw

Serves 8 as a side dish

For Cayenne Dressing:

3 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup walnut oil
3/4 cup canola or other neutral oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the Slaw:
1/2 head green cabbage, outer limp leaves removed and discarded, chopped to 1/4 inch dice (small)
1/2 head red cabbage, outer limp leaves removed and discarded, chopped to 1/4 inch dice (small)
1 cup of shredded carrots ( I used a stand mixer attachment to grate these finely, but you could use a box grater too)
1 medium red onion, finely diced and lightly blanched in boiling water for 1 minute.
1 medium green, 1 red, 1 yellow peppers, cleaned of pith, pits and stems, cut into fourths and roasted (see instructions below) and then cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 cup unsalted peanuts, or whole pecans
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil for roasting the peppers

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut and clean the peppers. Spread the pepper quarters, skin side down, on a foil lined baking sheet pan and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and kosher salt. Place the peppers in the hot oven and roast for approximately 20 minutes or until they are fragrant and releasing some of their juices, and the skin is blistering, but not browning.  Remove from oven and allow them to cool. Once cool, cut into 1/4 inch dice.

2. While peppers are roasting, make the cayenne dressing: In a blender, combine the cider vnegar, lemon juice, mustard, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, honey and celery seeds. Run the blender at a medium-high speed, with the cover on, but leaving a slight opening to drizzle oil in. Combine the walnut oil and neutral oil in one container or measuring cup and begin to slowly, slowly drizzle the combined oil into the vinegar mixture that is in the blender. The slower you drizzle the oil, the better emulsification of the acids and oil you will get. This creates a solid dressing that won’t break apart on you. Once all the oil is added, blend the dressing another minute of so. Transfer dressing to a large bowl (the one you’ll make the slaw in) or if making the dressing ahead, place in airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use. (Can make a day ahead, but may need to re-blend when ready to use.)

3. When you remove the peppers from the oven, spread the peanuts on a clean, foil lined sheet or pie dish and place them in the oven to roast for 8-10 minutes or until they are toasty but not too browned. Remove the peanuts from the oven and sprinkle with kosher salt. Hold aside for later use.

4. Chop your remaining ingredients and combine them in a large serving bowl. Dress generously with the cayenne dressing. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving toss the slaw again to redistribute the dressing and combine with half the roasted peanuts. Sprinkle along the top of the slaw with the remaining roasted peanuts as a garnish.