Weeknight Shorts: Makeover Cole Slaw

I grew up in Friday night fish fry country and it was a while before I realized that cole slaw could be served with something other than fried cod! Of course, I think that realization occurred when it came alongside a sandwich or burger at a mom and pop's cafe. It wasn't until I was in college and feeding myself most of the time that I considered revisiting cole slaw as a main course. And boy, was I so very glad I went down that road:

This fun cole slaw-inspired main dish salad is hearty enough to be dinner, healthy enough to allow you to enjoy dessert without guilt, and tasty enough that it might become your go-to dinner salad after you've tried it once. It's packed with cabbage, carrots, and green onions … very much like most cole slaws. But then the mayo-based dressing gives way to an Asian-inspired dressing featuring fresh lime, ginger, and garlic. Toss it all with tender cooked chicken and toasted almonds and you've got a flavor-packed salad that will have you crunching every delectable bite!

If I can enjoy a salad like this out on my patio, all I really want to make it a meal is a glass of chilled white wine or a bottle of hard cider. That said, a savory muffin or cheese-crusted breadsticks would be lovely alongside this pretty salad. If you want to lean into the theme of the salad, opt for egg or spring rolls. You could even use more of the dressing as a fantastic dipping sauce for them! Of course, if I did that, I might also be tempted to trade the above-mentioned beverages for some sweet plum wine or sake.

However, you opt to enjoy this fun salad, make sure you take the time to revisit standard culinary fare now and then to contemplate how you might remake them in ways that will take them outside their traditional roles and give you a new way to enjoy them. Who knows? Maybe you'll discover a new favorite dish in the process. I know I have done just that!

Almond Chicken Dinner Slaw

  • 1 small lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce (use tamari + a little honey for a gluten free version)
  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. canola oil (for cooking the chicken)
  • ½ pound of chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 head of napa cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled & shredded
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

In a small bowl, combine the lime juice and zest, ginger, garlic, hoisin sauce, and extra virgin olive oil. Whisk to combine.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add the canola oil. Cook the chicken breast until it's browned on all sides and cooked through. Remove from the heat.

Thinly slice the napa cabbage and run your fingers through it, separating the strands, and add it to a large salad bowl. To the cabbage, add the chicken, shredded carrots, green onions, and dressing. Toss. Sprinkle with the sliced almonds and serve.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes