Pear, Roquefort and Cranberry Coleslaw, a Simple and Delicious Side Dish

I've always liked coleslaw. This recipe goes back centuries. Food historians think the Romans made the first salad by slicing cabbage and sprinkling it with vinegar. As the recipe moved from country to country the ingredients changed.

Recipes fall into four groups, those with vinegar dressing, those with mayonnaise dressing, cold salad and hot salad. An old German recipe tells cooks to steep the sliced cabbage in boiling water for a few minutes to soften it and enhance its flavor. Koreans pickle cabbage with other vegetables, such as radishes, and a variety of seasonings. There are many versions of this historic recipe, which is called Kimchi. In Asian cultures, cabbage is often the main ingredient for stir-fry.

Fannie Farmer wrote about this crunchy salad in her historic volume, The Boston Cooking School Book, first published in 1896. Her recipe for cold salad is dressed with seasoned whipped cream. Her hot version is dressed with a cooked sauce made with egg yolks, butter, vinegar, salt and water.

For many, a picnic isn't a picnic without this side dish and there are dozens of regional recipes for it. Many television cooking programs have shown how to make this adaptable salad. Bobby Flay makes a creamy version with cabbage, carrots, mayonnaise, sour cream, Spanish onion, sugar, dry mustard, and celery salt. Paula Deen makes it with purple and red cabbage, carrots, onions, canned corn, ground cumin, lime juice and mayonnaise.

Guy Fieri's recipe for Asian Slaw features bok choy, Napa cabbage, green cabbage, carrots, red onion, red pepper, bean spouts, and snap peas. Seasoned with ginger, garlic, white wine, and soy sauce, this elegant salad is garnished with fried won tons and peanuts.

Home cooks may prefer a simpler recipe. Salad that has a vinegar dressing is less caloric than salad that has a mayonnaise dressing. Both versions may be sweetened with fresh, canned or dried fruit. My family loves Roquefort cheese and fresh fruit, so I added both to the basic recipe. You can make this salad in minutes. Pear, Roquefort and Cranberry Coleslaw is an ideal side dish for toasted sandwiches, grilled meats, chicken and fish.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons rice vinegar (Buy the regular, not the seasoned.)
4 tablespoons olive oil (I used extra light.)
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
14-ounce package coleslaw mix
2 firm pears, unpeeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup (or more) crumbled Roquefort cheese (Blue cheese, Gorgonzola or Stilton may be substituted.)

Method

In a small bowl, whisk rice vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper together. In a large bowl, combine coleslaw mix, chopped pears, cranberries and Roquefort cheese. Toss gently with tongs or rubber spatula. Refrigerate for 15 minutes to blend flavors.
 Makes 8 generous servings.

Copyright 2011 by Harriet Hodgson

Harriet Hodgson has been an independent journalist for 30+ years. Her 24th book, Smiling Through Your Tears: Anticipating Grief, written with Lois Krahn, MD is available from Amazon.

Centering Corporation published her 26th book, Writing to Recover: The Journey from Loss and Grief to a New Life and a companion journal with 100 writing jump-starts. The company also published The Spiritual Woman: Quotes to Refresh and Sustain Your Soul. Her latest book, Happy Again! is currently in production at Centering.

Hodgson has two other new books, 101 Affirmations to Ease Your Grief Journey, available from Amazon, and Real Meals on 18 Wheels: A Guide for Healthy Living on the Highway, written with Kathryn Clements, RD and available soon from Amazon.

Please visit Harriet's website, click on the Blog tab and share your thoughts with this busy author and grandmother.


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