Coleslaw: Improved

coleslawLate 1960s Australia. My mother adds a recipe to her limited repertoire–she discovers coleslaw.

This was not your average American coleslaw with shredded cabbage, watery mayonnaise (or mayonnaisy water–it’s really a spectrum) and the occasional raisin. No, this was shredded cabbage with actual mayonnaise, and–wait for it–diced ham and grapes!

I know, the creativity boggles the mind, doesn’t it? The things you can do with coleslaw!

Though I’m being sarcastic here, this coleslaw was indeed a rare treat. We never had diced anything but Spam, it seems, and certainly never anything as expensive as grapes. To think of all the antiques we wouldn’t have been able to schlep back to the Netherlands in 1970 if we ate like that on a regular basis!

My mother made this coleslaw a few times during Australian summers, to take with us on day trips and to be consumed by the bank of a river after hours in our car with no air conditioning. No wonder I seem to have spent much of my childhood bent double in pain in our little outhouse, occasionally visited there by the family doctor…

But I digress.

I don’t remember ever having coleslaw in the Netherlands , so fast forward to 1994.


Here, coleslaw is the staple side dish for barbecue: shredded cabbage, mayonnaisy water and the occasional raisin. A refreshing contrast to grease-dripping brisket, sausage and a flap or two of white bread, but not interesting enough to add to my personal repertoire.

Then, a few years ago, in a fit of coleslaw creativity, I came up with my own version. I don’t remember how it happened, exactly, but my guess is that I was responsible for bringing coleslaw to a barbecue.

Never having been able to stick to a recipe, especially a boring one like your standard coleslaw, I started doing my own thing. No mayonnaise, and diced sliced turkey is optional, so it’s fine for outdoors events. I’ve made it a lot for potlucks and it’s a hit. And if you really feel coleslaw isn’t coleslaw without the mayo, then, by all means, add some.

So here you have it:

Prep time: approximately 10 minutes.
Makes 1 big bowl


  • coleslaw or shredded cabbage, 1 bag
  • walnuts, 1 big handful
  • dried cranberries (craisins), 1 big handful
  • 1 apple, diced
  • 2 mandarin oranges or 1 small can mandarin oranges or pineapple
  • 1 packet sliced smoked turkey, diced (optional) (Don’t do chicken; it’s too weak somehow.)


  • plenty of walnut oil or olive oil
  • a few good squirts of lemon or lime juice
  • salt or a few drops soy sauce
  • plenty of curry
  • plenty of thyme
  • garlic powder (optional)

Mix and enjoy.

Do you have your own variation on coleslaw? Let me know!


8 responses to “Coleslaw: Improved

  1. You can come to our next pot-luck!


  2. expatinaustin

    Having moved from England to the US almost 7 years ago, I found coleslaw very different form what I was used to. My mother used to make coleslaw and her recipe is a firm family favorite, this one also has no mayonnaise.

    Ultimate Coleslaw
    1lb white cabbage, shredded
    1/2lb carrots, grated
    1/4lb salad onions, chopped (use both white and green parts)
    1 red apple, cut into small pieces

    4 fl. oz. olive oil
    2 fl. oz grape seed oil (use any oil if not available)
    Juice of one lemon
    1 clove garlic, crushed
    1 heaped tbsp clear honey
    1 tsp Dijon mustard
    Salt and Pepper

    Mix cabbage, carrots, onions and apple together. Combine dressing ingredients and mix well. Pour dressing over the vegetable mixture and mix well. Best refrigerated for a few hours or even overnight.

    ENJOY 🙂


  3. But technically, isn’t cole slaw Dutch (kool sla)? I remember seeing it mentioned in a book I read about the Dutch language’s influence on English.

    That said, I’m more of a Southern purist when it comes to cole slaw, or at least as made by my family. Carrots, cabbage, grated onion, celery salt, mayo, a pinch of sugar, and sometimes a small drizzle of ranch dressing if it’s available. No raisins!!! 🙂


  4. The best potato salad that I ever bought in a store I purchased in the Netherlands. It was labled Huzaaran. A friend from Iran said that they make it the same way in Iran and they call it Russian Potato Salad. I can imagine that Huzaaran is the Dutch word for Russian. With or without shredded beef it tastes really good. I do like to make it even better though by adding lots of extra green peas.
    I have never seen this kind of potato salad for sale in Germany. Maybe its illegal to sell it here? When ever I take a trip to Geilenkirchen I make sure to hop over the border for some of this potato salad and some Dutch Coffee which is taxed at a much lower rate than in Germany. I detest coffee by the way. I resell the coffee in Germany.
    Maybe I should have written this in the post about 10 Dutch or American Foods. I think that it fits better here though because Cole Slaw and Potato Salad are kind of inseperable.

    Liked by 1 person

I would love to know what you think, even about old posts.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.