When it comes to slaw, are you cabbage, or are you broccoli? In the house where I grew up, slaw meant cole slaw, made with cabbage and a token shredded carrot, drowning in mayonnaise and served alongside potato salad (also drowning in mayonnaise). In my own kitchen, I prefer broccoli slaw: the slivered stems of broccoli, with carrots and a bit of purple cabbage or radicchio, and a tangy or spicy dressing. To me, picnics, potlucks or barbecues feel incomplete without some sort of slaw on the table. Here are five of my favorites.
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What's in a name? If I named this dish pickled cabbage, it might conjure up images of clay jars of fermented, kind-of-smelly kimchi buried in the ground out behind the house, and to some, that's a real turn-off. So, I thought, why not call it pickled cole slaw? And then, go one step further and actually make it with store-bought cole slaw mix? Of course, you can shred green or red cabbage, and a few carrots, and make your own mix, but I let someone else do the work. Buy cole slaw mix in a bag at the grocery store and rinse in very cold water to perk it up. Add the seasonings for a quick brine, and this Asian pickled cole slaw is ready to eat in an hour. No need to dig up your back yard. Serve as a side dish with grilled chicken or meat, or in a fish taco.
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One day a few weeks ago, I returned home to find a folded piece of paper stuck inside my screen door. It took but a moment to figure out who had left it, as Debbie and I were talking earlier about a blueberry soup recipe she wanted me to try. The recipe, from Yankee magazine, came with notes suggesting some changes, and when Bob handed me a couple of cups of gorgeous blueberries from his garden, I knew the time had come. I went far afield of the original version in creating this no-cook blueberry apple soup, substituting a small amount of agave nectar for the sugar, and eliminating the sour cream, but I kept the cinnamon-coriander spice combination because it warms up the tart blueberries. If you prefer an absolutely seedless soup, pass the mixture through a food mill. A scoop of lime sherbet would send this straight to dessert heaven.
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Now that my husband Ted has declared kale pesto his favorite, I'm finding other ways to use the basil I planted in my herb garden to make a winter's worth of pesto for the freezer, and I'm also finding other ways to work this kale version into my summer cooking. Pasta with kale pesto, shrimp and tomato won our hearts, and I can't wait to make it again with cherry tomatoes from the garden in a month or so. The surprising thing about kale pesto is that it doesn't taste like a dark leafy green at all; it's redolent with garlic and cheese, just like pesto Genovese made with basil, but the flavor is a bit lighter and brighter. If you prefer, omit the shrimp in this recipe, or substitute shredded rotisserie chicken to make an easy dish even easier.
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