Tossed & Found: Bland slaw? Vegetables, dressings and spices liven up summer staple

Tossed & Found: Bland slaw? Vegetables, dressings and spices liven up summer staple

July 10th, 2013 by Clint Cooper in Entertainment

A finely diced jalapeno pepper gives Firecracker Slaw a little heat.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.


Staff writer Clint Cooper has a drawer full of unused recipes in his kitchen. Once a month in Tossed & Found, he's pulling some out and giving them a try.

The world is made up of slaw lovers and slaw haters, don't you think?

I'm a slaw lover, so this month's Tossed and Found experience includes four slaw recipes I've kept but never tried.

To most people, coleslaw is prepared in one of two ways, either creamy or vinegar-y. I like both but prefer the vinegar line, and I'm always looking for new variations.

Coleslaw, according to, can be a healthy and low-calorie side dish with chopped or sliced cabbage and a variety of vegetables. Broccoli and carrots are especially healthy additions, but the alternatives run the gamut.

Cabbage, according to the website, "can help lower cholesterol and is a good source of fiber." You'll find nearly the recommended daily amount of vitamin K in cabbage as well as the antioxidant power of vitamin C, according to "100 Best Health Foods."

It also provides some vitamin B6 and folate and trace amounts of protein, says, and the main minerals found in the vegetable are calcium and potassium.

But coleslaw also can have enough mayonnaise, sodium and sugar to cancel the beneficial effects.

If you make coleslaw at home, according to the website, opt for lower-calorie mayonnaise and products made with soybean or safflower oils. And avoid mayonnaise made with hydrogenated oils.

Use your own judgment on the nutritional values of the recipes below. Only one adds sugar, but three of the four call for full-flavor dressings. Reduced-fat or lower-calorie dressings might help if you're watching ingredients closely but also might change the flavor.

All four of the slaws were good, three of the four well above average.

Firecracker Slaw

1 (16-ounce) package shredded coleslaw mix

3 ribs celery

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced and seeds removed

1 cup Italian dressing

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

In a large bowl, combine the coleslaw mix, celery and red and yellow peppers. In a small bowl, whisk together the Italian dressing and the brown sugar until the sugar dissolves; pour over the cabbage mixture, tossing to coat completely. Cover and chills for at least one hour before serving. Yield: 10 servings.

Cook's changes: None.

Result: Easy to make, makes a lot and is attractive with the peppers. This was my favorite of the four. I love bell peppers and am not a fan of celery, but both combined in the dressing to simply add more crunch to the slaw. Don't be afraid of the jalapeno pepper. In the dressing, it adds even more flavor and doesn't burn your mouth.

- Mr. Food Test Kitchen

Ranch Coleslaw is easy to make.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

Ranch Coleslaw

3 cups coleslaw mix

1/4 cup Mexicorn, drained

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup ranch salad dressing

1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In a small bowl, combine the salad dressing, lime juice and cumin. Pour over the coleslaw and toss to coat. Refrigerate until serving. Yield: 6 servings.

Cook's changes: None.

Result: Easy to make. The corn, jalapeno pepper and cheese add variety, and the dressing, lime juice and cumin offer an interesting flavor. Don't worry about the cilantro or the jalapeno pepper being too strong. As with the Firecracker Slaw, they only add more flavor and are not overpowering.

- Taste of Home magazine

Napa Cabbage Slaw gets some extra crunch from chow mein noodles.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

Napa Cabbage Slaw

4 cups chopped Napa or Chinese cabbage

1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges

1 can (8 ounces) sliced water chestnuts, drained

1 cup fresh snow peas, trimmed and cut into thirds

1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper

1 green onion, chopped

1/4 cup reduced-fat sesame ginger salad dressing

1/2 cup chow mein noodles

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. Drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Just before serving, sprinkle with chow mein noodles. Yield: 8 servings.

Cook's changes: I used regular cabbage because I couldn't Napa or Chinese cabbage.

Result: Easy to make, different and good. The mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, snow peas and ginger dressing give this an exotic flavor. I had only eaten snow peas in Chinese food and had never prepared them, but it wasn't a big deal to chop of the ends and a few strings then cut them into thirds.

- Genise Krause, Sturgeon Bay, Wis. (in Taste of Home)

Easy Caesar Coleslaw is pretty with the tomatoes and green onion.

Photo by C. B. Schmelter/Times Free Press.

Easy Caesar Coleslaw

1 (14-ounce) package coleslaw mix

1 cup grape tomatoes

1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 sliced green onion

3/4 cups creamy Caesar salad dressing

Combine. Yield: Serves 6.

Cook's changes: My Caesar dressing didn't say "creamy," but it wasn't oil and vinegar-like, so I figured it was fine.

Result: Easy to make and pretty with the tomatoes and green onion. Despite the tomatoes and onion, this didn't have enough bite for me. But it was still a good slaw.

- MaryRose DeGroot, State College, Pa. (in Taste of Home)

Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to my posts online at