Red and Green Cabbage Salad with Lemon Mustard Seed Dressing

Rainbow Slaw

Let’s face it.  If there was such a thing as a popularity contest for vegetables, the humble cabbage probably wouldn’t have much of a chance.  Not when there’s much sexier vegetables like asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and ramps out there.

But while I could probably live without some of those other veggies, life without cabbage seems almost unthinkable.  No Korean kimchi?  No Polish kapusta?  No Italian peasant soup?  No spicy Indian cabbage?  Some of my very favorite dishes are made primarily from cabbage.

Carrots and Cabbage

And with each new cuisine I cook, it seems like my love affair with the hardy, leafy vegetable deepens. Cabbage may be considered peasant food in many countries, but I’ll take peasant food over molecular gastronomy any day.

Rainbow Slaw 1

In this colorful salad, which is another one of my favorite Indian recipes, red and green shredded cabbage are combined with grated carrots and tossed in a lemon juice dressing that’s spiked with hot Serrano chiles and pungent mustard seeds.   Bright tasting with plenty of crunch, it’s a great side to rich, coconut milk-based curries.

Rainbow Slaw 2


Red and Green Cabbage Salad with Lemon Mustard Seed Dressing

I like to make this colorful salad with red and green cabbage as well as purple, orange and yellow carrots, but it's still excellent with standard green cabbage and orange carrots.

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 12 minutes

Cook Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes


* 4-5 cups finely shredded cabbage (about 1/4 of a medium-sized cabbage)
* 3/4 cup finely grated carrots
* 1 Serrano chile pepper, seeded and minced
* 1/4 cup lemon juice
* 2 teaspoons salt
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 2 Tablespoons oil
* 1-1/2 teaspoons yellow or brown mustard seeds


In a large bowl combine the cabbage, carrots, Serrano, lemon juice, salt and sugar and toss to mix.

In a small saucepan heat the oil over high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds and immediately cover with a lid or splatter screen. When the seeds have stopped popping, immediately remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the oil and seeds over the cabbage mixture. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

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7 Responses to “Red and Green Cabbage Salad with Lemon Mustard Seed Dressing”

  1. #
    Kasandra Bracken — April 28, 2013 at 4:25 am

    Yum! So true, cabbage is really quite the workhorse of a vegetable – it just doesn’t get enough credit! Love this combo. Not sure if you’ve posted on Korea yet, but this is definitely the place to be if you’re ever fiending for cabbage ;) Cheers and thanks for sharing!


  2. #
    Kasandra Bracken — April 28, 2013 at 4:26 am

    (eep – and now see your whole section on Korea.. wonderful! can’t wait to try out your takes on traditional Korean cuisuine!!)


    • Cate — April 28th, 2013 @ 7:30 am

      Ha! Although I really only skimmed the surface of Korean cuisine. I’d love to revisit it and try a bunch of other recipes as well :)


  3. #
    Sarah — May 1, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    YUM! I know what I’m having for dinner tomorrow.


  4. #
    Jennifer — May 9, 2013 at 5:19 am

    I think I may be burning the mustard seeds… I have the yellow ones, but by the time they are done popping (and I am not waiting until the last minute) most of the others have turned black and there is a faint burnt smell. But it doesn’t taste burnt.

    It actually tastes pretty darn good. :-)

    Suggestions? Or am I actually doing it right?

    Thanks, Cate!


    • Cate — May 9th, 2013 @ 6:26 pm

      I think you’re right on track Jennifer. I think of the technique for mustard seed tadka to be akin to popping popcorn. Generally you’ll will want to time stop the cooking before every single kernel is popped, because that means it might overcook or burn the rest.

      I say if it tastes good, keep on doing what you’re doing! But feel free to play around with timing as well to see if you like the seeds a little less or more blackened :)


  5. #
    Jennifer — May 10, 2013 at 1:33 am

    Thanks, Cate!


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