Red cabbage and dill

I can’t begin to tell you how much I hate coleslaw. Limp shards of carrot and cabbage slithering around in an indecent white sauce; the summer is bedecked by tubs of it and the sight of them floods my body with bile. Worse is the tragic half-eaten bowl of coleslaw abandoned in the rain at barbecues. It’s the one thing no one bothers to rescue, so it sits in the storm, rainwater diluting the gloopy mixture until it bubbles and rises over the edge of the dish like a waterfall of rabid saliva.

So when a friend invited me to a and asked if I’d mind bringing a salad, I offered to bring coleslaw. This was to make sure no one else could say they’d bring coleslaw and then turn up with the usual sputum and brassica extravaganza. Then I set about making a coleslaw that wouldn’t make me want to flay myself alive.

There are two ways to ensure your coleslaw thrills and delights the meat-mad barbecue crowd: 1) make your own mayonnaise (it’s not that hard if you use an electric whisk and good, fresh eggs); and 2) serve it within 2 hours of mixing it together so the slaw is fresh and crunchy rather than collapsing with depression.

The mayonnaise recipe is the one I learned at and it makes double the amount you need for the coleslaw – the rest can all be smeared on burger buns and chicken legs.

Red cabbage and dill coleslaw
Serves 6–10

For the mayonnaise:
2 medium egg yolks (as fresh as you can get)
2 tsp white wine vinegar
A pinch of English mustard powder
1/2 tsp salt
150ml sunflower oil mixed with 50ml extra virgin olive oil

For the slaw:
200g red cabbage, cored and shredded
175g green cabbage, cored and shredded
150g carrot, peeled and coarsely grated
4 spring onions, shredded
The juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
Large handful of fresh dill, stalks discarded and leaves roughly chopped

Pace the egg yolks, vinegar, mustard powder and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the oil, a little dribble at a time, until combined with the egg yolks to make a thick, buttery mayonnaise – I use an electric whisk on a gentlish setting and it takes around 5–8 minutes to make mayo this way.

In a large bowl, mix together the cabbages, carrot, spring onions, lemon juice, mustard and dill. Add half the mayonnaise and stir to lightly coat all the vegetables. Taste and season. Add more lemon juice/mustard/dill if you think it necessary. Serve as soon as possible and definitely eat within 24 hours.

Tagged with: BallymaloeBarbecueColeslaw

13 Responses to Red cabbage and dill coleslaw

  1. Alex says:

    I’m totally in the opposite camp – I love home-made coleslaw with a near indecent passion, but I empathise entirely! More bad coleslaw has ever been made than good. And this looks very, very good indeed.

    Controversial though it may sound, I’m quite a fan of occasionally forgoing mayonnaise in favour of a bit of crème fraiche, or just rapeseed oil and vinegar.

    What ever.

    Great article.

  2. I agree with Alex – homemade coleslaw is awesome and I always make some if we have pizza. Don’t know why, it just seems to go. For some reason, I heard that adding cardamon seeds into the slaw was pretty traditional and tried it. Certainly adds something to it!

  3. B says:

    Jassy! Your coleslaw was epic but sadly I ate only one small bite! (I ate almost nothing at that bbq. bad brie, bad!) I love that it made the blog! 🙂

  4. oxfordfood says:

    I also hate coleslaw, though for me it’s part of a more general mayonnaise hatred. For the same reason as you I always offer to bring potato salad to barbecues and picnics so I’m not confronted with other people’s vile offerings, bleurgh.

  5. curlywurlyfi says:

    I am no fan of mayo (even homemade it’s still a vile wabbly unguent) so I make Asian-style slaw, so keep the red cabbage etc but jettison the dill + mayo for the usual fish sauce/sesame/ginger/chili/coriander suspects.

  6. A bbq staple so often in need of rescuing. Last time I tried I added some grated apple and fennel to it all. I liked it, even if others got snotty at me for messing about with their slaw.

  7. Yes so many coleslaws are an abomination good to see an actual tasty sounding recipe. I agree the secret is crisp rather than soggy slaw!

  8. I hate coleslaw too, they call it ‘salad’ and then drown it in disgusting mayonnaise. Yuck! Yours does look good I have to say, I’m not big on the dill but otherwise very convincing indeed!

  9. ginandcrumpets says:

    @Alex Home-made coleslaw I don’t mind, but I’ve been so scarred by the supermarket stuff that I even approach that with trepidation and fear in my heart. Also do coleslaw with vinegar and oil – it’s less frightening. Think there was an Ottolenghi recipe in the Guardian with sherry vinegar and pecans that was good.

    @Gareth Like the idea of cardamom in coleslaw. It improves most things. But coleslaw and pizza – the horror!

    @B Glad I contribute to the barbecue 🙂

    @oxfordfood Ballymaloe didn’t change your mind on mayo? Changed mine, and now I know it takes 5 minutes to make with an electric whisk I forsee a great deal of it and a heart attack in my future.

    @curlywurlyfi That sounds lovely. I do like an Asian-style salad.

    @Tori haha, no one likes it when we mess with their staples. I like the sound of apple and fennel.

    @Gourmet Chick Yes, definitely has to be crisp!

    @Ute Dill is something that has crept up on me. Used to hate it but I’ve started to see it’s appeal. Think it’s down to several holidays in Scandinavia.

  10. Alex says:

    @ginandcrumpets – what can I say, I’m just a coleslaw whore. I gave your recipe a shot at the weekend, served with a BBQ’s butterflied leg of lamb (about which I shall blog just as soon as I can!) and it went down very well indeed. All credit to your good self.

  11. Catherine says:

    De Gustibus used to do a really nice mayo free coleslaw in their cafe in Marylebone. I also like dill and cucumber, with feta, a bit of mayo and yogurt, plus green onion.

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