Comfort Food Potluck Red Cabbage and Sprout Salad

Last night I went to my neighbors’ “comfort food pot luck.” Comfort food tends to mean for many of us in winter warm, dense, heavy, rich food that is likely to be white, beige, or otherwise pale in color. There is much to be said for the emotional impact of great mashed potatoes or macaroni and cheese, especially when it is cold.

As I was deciding what to bring and remembering that last time I went to this pot luck there were three kinds of macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, and multiple kinds of bread, I thought about what would bring me comfort in that context.

My diet is not subject to any particular label. I mostly do not eat meat or cow dairy–perhaps vegetarian/vegan preferred would be a good label to the extent one would need to give a label (we are so fond of those in this society). I also prefer local and organic food, in that order, when available, and find my health benefits from a fair percentage of my diet being raw, fresh fruit and vegetables.

Based on my assumptions of what others would likely bring, I thought that it would give me great comfort to have something fresh, bright, crunchy, raw, organic, and mostly local to go with mashed potatoes (they were delicious Marlene) and assorted casseroles. I took a look at what was in the kitchen and found I had red cabbage, a couple of apples, an onion, and some carrots from the farmers’ market; organic celery, raisins, ginger, lemon, apple cider vinegar, and white miso from the food coop and the organic grocery store; and mung beans sprouting on the counter.

The red cabbage salad and sprout salad was a hit as a foil for the traditional “comfort food.”

Since you asked, here’s how its made:

Mince some onion and dice a small red cabbage. Splash some apple cider over the onion and cabbage so it can start pickling while you are cutting up the rest of the ingredients.

Dice some carrots and celery and add to the cabbage and onions.

Throw in some raisins.

Mince some ginger and add to vegetables.

Mix a couple of tablespoons of mild white/blonde miso and some Dijon mustard to taste (a darker miso will be too strong) and stir in hot water to thin until the miso-mustard mix is a creamy consistency and stir into the vegetables.

Dice an apple or two and mix in with the other ingredients.

Add some fresh bean sprouts if you have them (I always have sprouts growing except in the hottest weather; a good source for supplies is www.sproutpeople.org; best to add the sprouts while they are still short so they are the same texture and size of the other ingredients in this chopped salad).

Squeeze in some lemon juice to taste (or more vinegar if you don’t have a lemon on hand or want to be completely local). If necessary to get the dressing spread evenly over the vegetables, add a little more water.

Add another apple or additional raisins if you need more sweetness to offset the saltiness of the miso and the astringency of the vinegar and lemon juice.

This salad benefits from sitting for at least a few hours. It can sit overnight without the apples and the sprouts–the miso starts to ferment the cabbage as for sauerkraut, which is nice– but the apples and sprouts will get mushy and are better added at the end.

Enjoy. Play with ingredients and quantities and please comment if you come up with a delightful variation.

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