Every year, sometime in late November, we turn on our heat, move the sweaters to the top drawer, dig up our tights and fleece-lined slippers, …and stop eating salads.
It’s silly, really. Once the cold sets in, and my cravings for fresh, red tomatoes are a faint mystery, all I can think about is stew and soup, tea and cider. Might a salad go perfectly with my black bean chili? Why yes, yes it would. Do I make one? No, no I don’t. The chill kills my appetite for fresh leaves, replaces it with a deep-belly hunger for soy-marinated kale and spicy, savory pasta dishes like this one. But I’m right on cue. Around December, I suddenly remember winter vegetable slaw, and everything changes.
That’s the beauty of slaws: they’re a year-round staple. Bring’em to a barbeque in the summer, make one with the best of what produce you’ve got in winter. Use cabbage of any kind, but also broccoli, fennel, cucumbers, carrots, pretty much whatever you’ve got. Go Asian, Mexican, Singaporean, or fusion. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
Case in point: when two kohlrabis were included in this week’s CSA along with a grab-bag of apples, the wheels started turning. I thought of the brand new jar of Madras curry powder, the unsulphered apple cider vinegar, and a wonderful slaw I’d devoured at an otherwise terrible restaurant (which I’d vowed to recreate, in part so I’d never have to dine there again. A fellow blogger describes the place as “what it’d look like if Epcot Center threw up Cuba.” She’s spot-on.) But I digress. The curry, the apple cider vinegar, the kohlrabi, the apples: they’d go really well together, it dawned on me.
And so they did. The curry powder turned the slaw an electric orange-yellow, which was pretty awesome. I’ve never gone Indian with slaw before, but after this successful experiment, I’ll be doing it again for sure.
Curried Kohlrabi and Apple Slaw
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
1 teaspoon high-quality curry powder
2 kohlrabis, peeled
1 crunchy, crispy apple (I used Cortlandt; Granny Smith, or any other crispy, not-too-sweet apple, would also be great), unpeeled
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
3/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
freshly cracked pepper
Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. When oil shimmers, add curry powder. Heat for about 30-45 seconds, until curry starts to sizzle and faintly starts to darken in color. If it hasn’t darkened after 45 seconds, don’t wait: remove pan from heat, transfer flavored oil to a jar with a lid, and let cool to room temperature, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, using the julienne slicer, slice peeled kohlrabi and apples (unpeeled, for color contrast) on 1/4-inch setting. Once kohlrabi and apple have been julienned, toss pieces to separate from each other (they have a tendency to stick together) and transfer to medium salad bowl.
Add mustard to oil, and shake vigorously to combine. Then add apple cider vinegar, half of salt, and pepper, and continue shaking until dressing is emulsified. Dip your finger into the dressing to taste, and add more salt if desired.
Dress slaw with half the dressing to start; depending on the size of your kohlrabi and apple, you may not need it all. Taste, and add more dressing as desired. Serve.
Coleslaw will keep for several days; the kohlrabi softens, but the texture of the softened slaw is appealing in a totally different way.