Continental style coleslaw

Summer cabbage

Summer cabbage

Earlier in the year we planted summer cabbages Copenhagen Market and Golden Acre. Both are excellent for coleslaw, which is my favourite use for white cabbage, and the first sowings are now ready to harvest. The most common sort of coleslaw seen here comprises shredded cabbage, onion, and carrot, dressed in a rich mayonnaise. Whilst we enjoy it in this form, I most often prepare a simple continental style of coleslaw, or ‘krautsalat’, typical across Germany and other regions. The dressing in this case is a simple vinaigrette, and the result much lighter and fresher.

Continental style coleslaw or 'krautsalat'

Continental style coleslaw or ‘krautsalat’

The main ingredient is cabbage, but the other ingredients can vary. Carrot does not usually appear in a continental style coleslaw. Onion is usually present, sometimes in the form of spring onions, and green peppers are common. Along with the vinaigrette, the coleslaw can be flavoured with celery, caraway, or cumin seed, although I do not usually add anything other than cabbage and onions.

Methods of preparation vary. To draw the water out of the cabbage one can work in the salt and leave it to stand for a while, then sieve it and squeeze out the liquid before adding the dressing. More usual, though, and very little effort, is to warm the dressing ingredients and simply pour over the finely shredded vegetables, mixing well and allowing to stand for some time. A fair bit of liquid will come out of the ingredients, but the cabbage should still retain a little bite. To my mind, coleslaw is best used a few hours after it has been prepared, but it will keep well in the fridge. Our first summer cabbage weighed in at about 2.2kg, so we cut this into three portions which, when the outer leaves were removed, were about 700g each. I do not normally measure the dressing ingredients but did so for the purpose of this recipe. The quantities can be varied, of course, according to taste. Scale the ingredients to suit the amount of cabbage to hand.


(Serves 4)

  •  700g (prepared weight) white cabbage
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 green pepper (optional)
  • 75ml white wine or cider vinegar
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 60ml sugar
  • 2 tsp of Maldon salt
  • 1 tsp celery, caraway, or cumin seed (optional)
  • Black pepper


Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage and wash carefully, making sure to remove all dirt and any wildlife. Cut into manageable wedges, remove the hard core, and shred finely.

Peel and quarter the onion, then slice finely.

Quarter, deseed, and slice finely the green pepper, if using.


Place the vegetables in a bowl. Mix in the celery, caraway, or cumin seeds, if using. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper.

Place the vinegar, oil, sugar, and salt in a small pan and bring just up to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Pour the liquid over the cabbage and mix well. Leave to stand for at least one hour and preferably two or three, turning it over from time to time.

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