Rainbow Red Cabbage Salad

I always make this very festive looking, multicoloured salad on St. Stephen’s or ‘Boxing’ Day – It’s one of those well-used family recipes that developed over several years – the idea started off with a carrot and orange salad which I ate at a wedding reception 30 years ago. Over the years since, I’ve gradually added bits and pieces to it – as you do – and also added my own special fruity dressing.  I’ve now been using exactly the same ingredients for about 25 years and it’s become a family staple we couldn’t have Christmas without – everyone looks forward to it. It’s also great at any other time of year when there’s lots of cold meats to accompany it – and particularly good with fatty or salty meats like ham or goose. It tastes utterly delicious – crunchy, fruity and juicy – will keep for 4-5 days in the fridge and actually improves every day as the flavours develop and it sort of matures!  This – with a few crispy lettuce leaves – is all I want to look at for a few days after all the rich food of Christmas – and because it keeps so well it’s a great chance to put my feet up for a few days (in theory!) and let them all help themselves – a nice break after the Christmas palaver!

Now for the science bit! It’s also great on its own – with a few more nuts and seeds thrown in – if you want to just detox for a few days – it soothes and re-balances the acid/alkaline levels in your system – supplying masses of ‘pre’-biotics which give a welcome tonic to all the ‘Christmas-overstressed’ micro-flora in your gut! Full of every colour of the vegetable and fruit rainbow – it’s so packed full of healthy antioxidant phytochemicals, pro-vitamins and minerals – that no matter what your seasonal excesses – you feel much better after eating it!  The addition of a light dressing made with oil helps to emulsify the pro-vitamin A in particular – the lipids increasing it’s uptake and absorption into the bloodstream. (This is why you should always put a teaspoon of any sort of oil with carrot juice – otherwise the body can’t properly make use of the vitamin A carotenoids it contains.)

It’s quite hard to be absolutely precise about ingredients – It’s what I call one of those ‘seat of the pants’/ ‘play it by ear’ recipes that you can vary quantities in as you go along – according to taste and how big your veg. are – but these approximate proportions will make a large bowl full which will last 4/5 people a few days as an accompaniment to any cold meats, depending on how greedy you are! It’s easily halved if necessary. The only other thing you need along with this is a huge vat of steaming, fluffy and creamy mashed potatoes to accompany it or maybe a few crispy-skinned baked ones. I like ‘Record’ potatoes for that – yellow fleshed and really fluffy when mashed – they are perfect with it. ‘Sante’ are not a bad alternative.  I know it’s quite a lot of faffing around and chopping – but once it’s done – you don’t need to do another thing for a few days. Somebody else can scrub the potatoes! These are – needless to say – all organic ingredients! You can use more or less of the ingredients as you wish without altering the flavour too much – but this is what works for me!


The cookery bit!
575gm or 1&1/4lb (ish) Red cabbage – stalk removed and rest finely sliced/shredded – I do this in the food processor as it’s quicker – but you don’t have to.
4/5 very large carrots – grated – or shredded in processor
3/4 sticks of celery – chopped across in 1-2cm – 1/2in pieces (not stringy outside ones – save those for making stock with your turkey bones)
1 red pepper – cored, seeded and diced about 1-/2cm -1/2in. size pieces.
3-4 pineapple rings chopped into 1/2in pieces – tinned or fresh will do (I prefer tinned and freeze any left over rings to put in a ham & pineapple casserole at a later date – after 4/5 days I freeze any leftover organic ham in thick slices so that I don’t waste a scrap as it’s expensive – this is lovely heated up in the oven with pineapple rings & juice and creamy mashed potatoes)
A large fistful or so of whole almonds – blanched first by covering with boiling water from the kettle – soak until cool when the skins will slip off easily between your fingers – then chop roughly (I do think they taste better in this recipe if blanched and skinned).
A large fistful or so of sultanas
1/2 a red and 1/2 a green apple – cored and chopped but not peeled – I use red and green for the colour – but any apple will do fine
One or two oranges segmented – cut off the peel and pith first with a very sharp knife then cut each segment out without any skin – they’re nicer that way.
One medium red onion (approx 4/5oz) – chopped.
It’s much easier to mix all this together with your hands first – once you have all the ingredients prepared – before adding the dressing. Pour over the dressing and mix well – tossing it in using two forks is the easiest way. Then cover and refrigerate. Make it fairly early before the meal if you can, as the tastes start to blend and mellow – improving after an hour or two of being mixed together. Take it out of the fridge about half an hour before your meal – so that it’s not too cold to taste.
My fruity dressing – for 1 quantity: (you will need 3-4 quantities for the rainbow salad recipe above to get a good coating – or again according to taste.)
6 tablespoons of oil – I use extra virgin olive oil for this particular recipe – but my usual dressing – which everyone always wants the recipe for – I normally make with walnut or hazelnut oil. That would be a bit expensive in this recipe though – as it needs lots of dressing – and the cabbage etc. would mask the lovely nutty flavour to some extent.
2 good tablespoons of runny honey – (I use Ben Colchester’s fantastic organic honey – made on the bog beside Johnstown and Urlingford in Co. Kilkenny – (I have a friend who swears he can tell exactly what wild flowers the bees were foraging on when producing any particular jar!)
1 & 1/2 tablespoons organic cider vinegar
Half a tablespoon of aged balsamic vinegar – (if you don’t have good stuff then use all cider vinegar as really cheap balsamic is usually disgustingly acid!)
A generous pinch of sea salt and several grinds of organic black pepper. If you’ve only ever tried ordinary non-organic – I promise you organic is sensational – an aromatic revelation!

Mix all the ingredients together really well – if you’re only making one quantity then a small jam jar is handy to just shake it up in – but when making this larger amount for the ‘Rainbow’ salad – I tend to throw all the dressing ingredients into the Magimix, blend them first and then put it aside into a small bowl to pour over the prepared and mixed salad ingredients – that way any veg I process after making the dressing picks up any that’s left around the blender bowl and not a single scrap is wasted!

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