This colorful Asian cabbage salad, or Asian coleslaw, has a creamy, no-mayonnaise dressing made with almond butter (or cashew butter). Ginger, garlic, sesame oil, honey, soy sauce (or tamari for GF), and rice vinegar round out the dressing fantastic flavors. It's crisp, crunchy, and cool with lots of veggies.
This is a terrific all-purpose summer salad for lunches, picnics and parties, or cookouts with grilled meat, chicken and seafood or burgers. With so many bright colors it looks like an explosion of confetti.
Here's what you need for the salad:
- Napa cabbage
- Green cabbage (half head)
- Purple cabbage (¼ head)
- 3 carrots
- 1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper
- Cilantro or Italian parsley
- Creamy almond or cashew butter
- Unseasoned rice vinegar or white vinegar
- Coconut oil or MCT
- Low sodium tamari, soy sauce or coconut aminos
- Toasted sesame oil
- Ginger or pureed ginger from jar
What is Napa Cabbage?
Napa cabbage is also called Chinese cabbage, celery cabbage, Peking cabbage, Hakusai and Wong Bok, so it can be a little confusing at the market. It’s a large, heavy, sort of football shaped head with large, pale green, crinkly leaves. The flavor is mild and the texture is nice and crisp. Find more info at this link. It's available at most grocery stores.
Besides Asian cabbage salad, Napa cabbage is good for sautéing, using raw in tacos or using as a shell for tacos or wraps. Use extra Napa cabbage leaves instead of Romaine for these Asian Lettuce Wraps made with ground turkey or a Caesar salad.
How to Chop Napa Cabbage
When prepping Napa cabbage for this salad, slice leaves from the bottom of the head. Cut the center ‘V’ shaped core out of each leaf, then pile the softer leaves together and chop them crosswise into thin ribbons.
Salad and dressing can both be prepared ahead of time and stored separately until ready to serve. For salad, chop all cabbages and peppers thin, grate carrots and chop herbs.
For dressing, use a blender or whisk ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. For small batches of things I use a personal blender. It comes with handy small containers and lids, perfect for things like dressing.
This recipe makes extra dressing. Any extra keeps in a jar in the refrigerator for about a week.
Toss vegetables with enough dressing to lightly coat and serve extra dressing on the side if desired.
Substitutions and Dietary Notes
- All of these vegetables are safe for people with histamine intolerance.
- For the dressing, use almond butter not cashew butter as cashews are are a histamine liberator for many people.
- If almonds (nuts) are a problem, use tahini (sesame seed butter).
- Try white vinegar instead of the rice vinegar, if that is a concern.
- For soy-free, try liquid coconut aminos instead of soy or tamari.
Use more of the green cabbage or look for Savoy cabbage. It's has crinkly leaves too.
Use tahini, which is sesame seed butter. Taste and adjust flavor to your preference.
For all your cilantro-haters, use flat leaf/Italian parsley instead.
Yes, slice all of your veggies a day or two before and keep well covered and refrigerated. Make dressing ahead as well and toss to serve when you're ready.
Colorful Asian Cabbage Salad with Almond Butter Dressing
- 8 large leaves Napa cabbage sliced, 3 cups
- 4 cups thinly sliced green cabbage about half a head
- 1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage about a ¼ of a head
- ¾ cup grated carrots 3 medium
- 1 cup red bell pepper (or red and yellow) thinly sliced
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro or Italian parsley
Almond Butter Dressing
- 2 tablespoons creamy almond or cashew butter
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar or white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons oil of choice coconut, MCT,
- 2 teaspoons low sodium tamari or soy sauce or coconut aminos
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger or pureed ginger from jar
- 1 clove finely chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons honey
Make the Salad
- Trim white “v” core out of Napa cabbage leaves with a sharp knife. Gather softer part of leaves together and slice crosswise into thin strips or ribbons. Place in a large bowl.
- Lay green and red cabbage flat and slice thinly into ribbons. Grate carrots on large hole of box grater. Slice peppers into thin strips (see post for photo help). Add all to bowl with Napa cabbage, along with chopped cilantro. Toss with almond butter dressing and serve.
Make the Dressing
- Place all ingredients in a small bowl and stir until smooth, or use a blender. Thin with a little warm water if it's too thick. Toss with salad before serving with just enough dressing to coat leaves to your preference. Extra keeps well, covered and refrigerated for a week. You'll need about ⅓ cup for the salad.