Cabbage Salad — So Good It’ll Surprise You

Something about the phrase “Cabbage Salad” sounds a little boring, doesn’t it?

Well, I want to make a pitch for poor old cabbage salad – because it’s become one of my absolute favorite lunches lately!


Cabbage has a few advantages over lettuce at lunch time, and deserves to be in your regular rotation. Here’s why.

First, you can pre-make and even pre-dress the salad if you choose and it will keep overnight.

Second, it’s more filling and satisfying than plain lettuce – great for a midday main dish salad.

And third, cabbage is so good for you. It’s a cruciferous vegetable with lots of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus it’s loaded with fiber.

I first fell in love with cabbage salad when I traveled to Costa Rica in high school. Since lettuce doesn’t grow well in the climate there, cabbage salad (Ensalada de Repollo) is a staple at most meals.

Latin American Cabbage Salads are different from many American coleslaws in that there’s no mayonnaise – olive oil and lemon or lime, plus some onion, are used instead — and that tastes better to me, and more refreshing.

The trick to taking cabbage salad, or slaw, into the “Oh my Goodness, this is Amazing!” realm is all in how you spice it (hint – I like it just a little spicy).

Here’s my favorite recipe:

Cabbage Salad with a Latin American Twist

Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 head napa, savoy, or green cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced jalapeno chile, or to taste
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste

Put the cabbage, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt in a large bowl and massage with your hands, to soften the cabbage a little. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well to combine.

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