red cabbage slaw with sesame and feta recipe

I have to admit, I've never really been a huge cabbage fan. Sure I’ll eat it if it’s on offer. But It’s not something I have ever brought regularly. I tend to prefer Asian veges like Bok choy, pak choy and choi sum as well as my lovely wee Brussels sprouts. All that seems to have changed lately, I’m not sure why really? Maybe it was after spending last Christmas and New Years in Perth with my mother-in-law? Vietnamese use cabbage extensively and I loved eating it in everything Ngot made for me; sautéed with onions to form the base for vegetarian spring rolls, in the vegetarian Pho she treated me to when everyone else ate traditional Beef Pho. Even just simply stir-fried with a little oil and garlic was nice.

So yes it seems I’ve had a complete turn around when it comes to the humble old cabbage. We tried growing them in our garden, the winter Kye was born. It was such hard work keeping those white butterflies off and we only ended up with one that grew to full size... but that one, I tell you, was the sweetest, crispest, juiciest cabbage ever to pass my lips. If only brother Ben had been around to taste its goodness. He’s a cabbage man you see, actually both my brothers are. Back in the day Ben and Louie would buy a cabbage and just eat big raw chunks for dinner!

I think it’s also the Scottish side of me coming out, one huge cabbage for only 89 cents! You can’t really complain can you? This Coleslaw type salad is one I’ve been making a lot lately, based on a salad my Mum used to make when we were kids (hers used raw cauliflower, cottage cheese and sesame seeds) and also one that Dad is quiet famous for (his version uses raw cauliflower, sesame seeds, and a mayonnaise/vinaigrette type dressing). I’m not much of a mayonnaise fan and we can’t eat cottage cheese anymore. But for some strange reason and one that I’m definitely not complaining about, feta seems to be ok with the kids and I. Hence the reason my dressing is a feta based one.

We have parsley growing in the garden and I tend to use a lot simply because we have loads. The Sorrel is not something everyone will have access to, so if you don’t have it don’t worry. I was so excited when I first tasted sorrel. I had fallen in love with a nameless herb Ngot grows in Perth way back when Si and I first went there. She uses it in Rice paper rolls and I wanted to know what the herb was, but she only knew the Vietnamese name for it. So when I saw it at the garden centre in NZ and realised it was Sorrel I was pretty excited. It’s the best herb to plant as it just keeps producing. We planted ours 4 years ago when we brought our house and all year-round I pick it. The kids love eating it straight from the garden and although I’m yet to do anything with it other than use it in salads and rice paper rolls, I have seen many recipes for using it cooked. It adds a lovely herbaceous citrusy note, which I especially love in salads.

The dressing adds the right amount of creaminess that you want in a coleslaw without the heaviness of a mayonnaise, but if you cannot tolerate dairy at all, use a couple of tablespoons of proper mayonnaise (homemade preferably or check the label on your store brought one to make sure its dairy-free) in place of the feta. I am a real dressing lover, so if you think this is too much dressing just use what you want and reserve the rest for another salad. The real yum factor in this salad comes from the addition of the toasted sesame seeds. It may sound weird but your just gonna have to trust me on this one. Try it.

red cabbage slaw with sesame and feta recipe
This recipe is vegetarian, gluten-free and can easily be lactose free by using good quality mayonnaise in place of the feta. Normal green cabbage can be used in place of the red, no worries! To toast the sesame seeds, toast in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring constantly until golden. Serves 4-6

  • 200g (about 1/4 medium) red cabbage
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • small bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • small bunch (6 leaves) sorrel (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  • 80g feta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp cider vinegar/lemon juice
  • 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper

    Finely shred the cabbage, I find using a bread knife helps to get the slices really nice and thin. Roughly chop the parsley (I also finely chop the stalks and add these). Remove stems from Sorrel and discard, stack the sorrel leaves on top of each other and roll up lengthwise to form a cigar shape, then finely shred. In a large bowl, add the cabbage, carrot, onion, parsley, sorrel and sesame seeds. Mix to combine.

    To make the dressing roughly crumble the feta into a small bowl (not too finely as you still want a few chunks after mixing). Add the vinegar/lemon juice, oil and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix to just combine. This can be prepared up to this stage a few hours in advance.

    When ready to serve pour over as much dressing as you would like and mix salad to thoroughly combine.


    1. edit this on | Reply Janna Hawkins

      …you even make chopped onions look beautiful! xx

    2. oh man, you should try using cabbage for spring roll wraps. I know its probably not original but we had an overload of cabbages when I was living in Edinburgh from when Deirdre got an idea for an installation in the park outside our window and went over board…
      So I made coconut rice and rolled it up in the inner cabbage leaves and steamed it. with some chilli soy sauce to dip it in it was surprisingly so good…

    3. Hey Emma
      I tried this the other night but without the onion as im not a fan of them and not the seasame seeds as kids wouldnt eat them and added grated courgettes and it was great, i had it with rice and made Thai Chicken patties :) Can’t wait to try some more and love the blogs oxoxoxo

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  • Reply
    November 10, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Mmmm. I made this last night. I like it a lot, and I don;t like cabbage. My partner ate the rest of the serve (that would be about 3 people's servings) and my 2 year-old even ate some. Thank you. I'm off to try the pear chocolate cake now. YUM.

  • Reply
    November 10, 2010 at 8:35 am

    Yay! So glad to hear you liked it. The sesame seeds really make the difference I reckon. My kids both love this salad We ate it so much this past winter, so they kinda had to 😉 Glad your little one enjoyed it too.

  • Reply
    Leigh @ Toasted
    January 19, 2011 at 9:05 am

    Oh, I didn't see your response until now – I'm looking up the recipe to make it again. I reckon it's the sesame and the feta that make it for us. YUM.

  • Reply
    Annabel Frankfurt/Germany
    November 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    I was looking for some red cabbage recipes since I bought too many at the farmers market. (I bought two basketball-sized for a two-person household… and blame it on their fantastic color).
    I tried your recipe twice last week and it's my favorite red cabbage recipe now. Thanks so much for it 🙂

  • Reply
    November 3, 2011 at 1:41 am

    Thanks for letting me know Annabel, so glad to hear you love it as much as I do 🙂

  • Reply
    February 1, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    Hi Emma,
    tried this last night and it was great. I thought the sesame seeds were a lovely touch and also your light dressing (I omitted the feta as had used it all up on your buckwheat eggplant recipe 🙂 -also delicious). Thank you. You remain such a source of wonderful inspiration for great healthy food,
    Tracey x

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