By accident, I stumbled upon a wonderful ingredient that just makes veggie salads (and particularly cabbage salads) so much better. I’m sure it’s not a secret and may even be commonly used by other cooks, but for me it was a revelation. This ingredient is pecans (or walnuts) toasted with maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Salt, I find, is very important here as it counteracts and balances the sweetness of the maple syrup. Combined with tangy coleslaw sauce made with a simple combination of mayo and mustard, the taste is just incredible.
- 1/2 head red cabbage, finely shredded
- 1 cup pecan halves, broken up into slightly smaller pieces
- 1/4 cup natural maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp + 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp hot mustard
- 3 tbsp mayonnaise
- green onions, to garnish
Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C). Lightly crush pecan halves in your hands to make smaller (but not too small) pieces. Mix in a bowl with maple syrup and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer the pecan mixture into a small baking tray lined with foil and spread in a single layer. Bake for 5 min, then take out and stir. Return to oven and bake for 5 more minutes or until maple syrup bubbles. Remove pecans from baking tray while they are still hot otherwise the syrup will crystallize and glue them to the foil.
Meanwhile, finely shred cabbage and put into a large bowl. Add 1/2 tbsp salt into the bowl and rub into cabbage with your hands, squeezing cabbage gently. With addition of salt, cabbage will produce juices and become more tender.
Mix mustard and mayonnaise in a small bowl to make the dressing. Add more mustard if you like a hotter sauce. Mix dressing with cabbage 1 tbsp at a time to make sure it lightly coats cabbage but is not too heavy or greasy. I only ended up using 2.5 tbsp of the dressing before I decided it was enough. Mix in maple-glazed pecans, garnish with green onion strips, and enjoy