Recipe: Cabbage Beet Coleslaw

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This is the last post that will reference anything about my recent wedding, I promise. (I think.) But after the wedding cakes, the ice cream, and the butternut pasta, I do believe I saved the best for last. When we were first talking about our menu with our delightful caterer, I initially planned on serving a fall salad with walnuts, apples, and goat cheese. Then he casually mentioned a beet coleslaw that had been served at a farm conference he helped run.

Beet coleslaw! That was certainly not usual wedding fare. In fact, we felt it was daring and unusual - who serves beets at their wedding? Plus, more pragmatically, it combined two of my all-time favorite foods.

There was just one problem: our caterer didn't have the recipe. He suggested tracking it down by finding the guy who helped stir up the big batch for the conference. He works occasionally at the co-op just down the street from our house, but he was notoriously hard to get ahold of.

"He is sort of a wanderer," our caterer said. "Great guy, you understand, but he just takes off to walk in streams and collect rocks."

OK, we said, and we kept a look out for him at the co-op, but he didn't turn up. (As an aside, I might mention that we met the most amazing array of characters in planning this wedding. And it didn't end with our wedding vendors; our landlady used to work for our caterer and had some pretty great gossip to share. It turns out that Columbus is a real small town when it comes to professional cooking.)

And then we discovered the real original source of the recipe: Michael Jones, a local chef and owner of our favorite produce market. He very kindly shared the recipe and we passed it on to our caterer.

Tracking down the recipe took a few weeks, trying to catch Michael at the Greener Grocer, his produce market, meeting other employees, and getting acquainted with Michael's other endeavour: Local Matters. Local Matters is an organization working to develop urban agriculture, get local food in schools, and set up affordable produce stands in low-income neighborhoods. We were so glad to learn a little more about their work and hope to get involved soon.

So that is the story of this recipe. And really, all that is beside the point unless it's great coleslaw. And you know what? It is! It's bright pink and gave all our guests magenta tongues! I made it again this week and it was just as delicious - tangy, sweet, tender from the roasted beets, and crunchy with shaved cabbage. So delicious, and a wonderful harvest recipe. I'll be making it for years to come.

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Cabbage Beet Coleslaw

Recipe courtesy of Michael Jones
serves four

4 beets, each about the size of a softball
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
1 small head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Grated orange peel from one orange
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons caraway seeds

Preheat oven to 375┬░F. Place the beets in foil and drizzle with olive oil and dust with salt and pepper. Bake until tender when pierced with knife - about 1 1/2 hours. You can cut down the roasting time by cutting the beets in half. Depending on their size it could take as little as an hour.

Cool. Peel beets by rubbing lightly with a paper towel. Cut into 2-inch strips and place in a large bowl. Shred the cabbage thinly with a sharp knife or mandoline and add in with the beets.

Vigorously whisk cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, grated orange peel and honey in small bowl. Gradually beat in oil. Pour dressing over cabbage and the beets and mix well. Add caraway seeds and toss. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper.

Note: I used 2 large regular beets in this recipe, plus 4 or 5 much smaller golden beets. This made a nice color and taste contrast.

Related: New Favorite: Sesame Cabbage Salad

(Images: Faith Durand)

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