Middle class coleslaw

I am a terrible snob. I’m not proud of this shortcoming but since there’s no point in denying it so I may as well be bold. I know I am a terrible snob because I once told someone that his mother made white trash coleslaw. In my defence, he said (and did) much, much worse to me. And that coleslaw was disgusting – tinned pineapple, cabbage, carrot and condensed milk dressing – so I don’t think I was completely out of line. Plus, his mother used to look at me like I was something she’d trodden on. Harrumph.

Anyway, that’s all ancient history and I’m over it, truly. But earlier this evening, when rustling up an impromptu salad to go with the remainder of Monday night’s roast chicken, I realised I was essentially making coleslaw too. Not posh coleslaw, not even an exotic Asian-ish one. Is there such a thing as a middle class coleslaw? I think I’ve just made it. But in good news, this is a coleslaw that transcends all barriers. Young, old, rich, poor, we can all eat and enjoy with impunity. But if you even think of putting tinned pineapple in it you deserve to choke on each mouthful.

So good to eat, so hard to make look good to eat!

Middle class coleslaw
This is the sort of thing you whip up in 10 minutes while wearing your running kit and making increasingly firm requests to your daughter to get out of the bath so you can get into it. Quantities are approximate – this much makes enough for four. Any leftovers are good in a lunchbox the next day.

1/4 of a cabbage – Savoy if you’re posh, ordinary if not, shredded
2 carrots, peeled, then grated
2 ribs of celery, destringed, then finely chopped
100g tasty cheddar, grated
1 tsp caraway seeds (optional)

For the dressing:
1 clove garlic, mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
2 tsp Dijon mustard
a good pinch of sugar
4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
8 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Make the dressing first. Put the smashed garlic, mustard, sugar and vinegar in a screw top jar. Screw on the lid and shake well. Add the oil, reattach the lid and shake again until emulsified. Taste – add a little more oil or vinegar to suit. It should be slightly on the sharp side to balance out the cheese.
Put the cabbage, carrot, celery and cheese in a salad bowl and toss together to mix. Sprinkle over the caraway seeds, if using, then pour over two-thirds of the dressing. Toss well, adding more dressing if necessary. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate until needed.

Are you a food snob? Does it get you into trouble?



  1. October 22, 2013 / 8:05 am

    i'm sorry but what you describe in the first paragraph is totally white trash… i'm a HUGE food snob and proud, unless the snobbishness is directed at me and then they can go to hell! Love your recipe. Love the addition of caraway seeds, gorgeous!

    • October 24, 2013 / 7:28 am

      I wish I could go back in time with you by my side!

  2. October 22, 2013 / 3:20 pm

    I'm with Dom! 🙂 I tell people that I'm easy to feed, but honestly, the more I learn about food, the bigger food snob I become. So far, I have not gotten into trouble… yet. And I love your coleslaw recipe.

  3. October 23, 2013 / 1:22 am

    Snob? Moi?
    I can be quite snooty about coleslaw – really the only one I like is my own! Sorry, no carrot allowed, only green things (spring onions, celery, coriander and only the heart of the cabbage) Mustardy yoghurt dressing and then lots of toasted almonds and/or seeds added at the end. Maybe I'll slum it with some tinned pineapple next time!

    • October 24, 2013 / 7:29 am

      I'll make a tinned pineapple one for your next visit, I promise. Want to book in now?

  4. October 23, 2013 / 9:10 am

    ha ha – your constant pleas for your daughter to get out of the bath sound only too familiar – I haven't heard of tinned pineapple in coleslaw or celery or cheese – the celery sound good because nice and healthy and crunch – the cheese sounds good because I just love cheese and the dressing sounds just my sort of thing

  5. October 23, 2013 / 9:32 pm

    Condensed milk dressing? Really? Now I maybe middle class and I would certainly enjoy a serious plateful of your coleslaw, but I can't help wondering just what condensed milk dressing tastes like. I've no pride, but who needs pride?

    • October 24, 2013 / 7:27 am

      Oh, Phil, you should count yourself lucky. I think CMD is a peculiarly Antipodean invention. You mix together condensed milk with malt vinegar, mustard powder and a pinch of salt, then pour it over a bowl of shredded iceberg lettuce. Then you throw the whole lot in the bin. Bon appetit!

  6. October 24, 2013 / 11:17 am

    I love this, so funny. I agree too – used to be very sniffy about that bog standard mayo laden carrot and cabbage number. However there is something appealing in the crunch and tang of a good coleslaw, I better try yours particularly as I've never put cheese in one before.

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