Is there a classic coleslaw recipe in existence? Well, probably not. Coleslaw salad is one of those universal dishes that’s eaten in many countries around the world and each has its own variation. The only constant is the presence of shredded or finely chopped cabbage. After that, you can get slightly inventive.
In Turkey, coleslaw is Lahana Salatası (cabbage salad) and we make our own version quite often. Apart from the fact that it’s super tasty and quick and easy to make, it’s also a great way to use up all that cabbage.
Well, if you buy a huge white cabbage to make kapuska, for example, you’re still left with quite a glut – especially when there’s only two of you. Nothing goes to waste in our house, though. A mountain of homemade coleslaw soon sorts out that bagful of cabbage stems and leaves that are lingering in the fridge.
Think Small, Think Colour
But what about if you don’t want to be faced with coming up with lots of cabbage recipes just so you’re not wasting food? The ginormous white cabbages in Turkey can seem quite daunting if you’re not cooking for a large group.
Its colourful counterpart, however, looks much more manageable, don’t you think? Almost cute, in fact. It also makes for a colourful coleslaw salad.
Yes, we don’t want you to go thinking we make coleslaw just to get rid of leftovers. It’s a great salad in its own right. And sometimes, we buy a small red cabbage from the market purely to make coleslaw. And that’s what we’re going to do now. This is our recipe for coleslaw made with red cabbage.
Red Cabbage Coleslaw Recipe
Because, certainly for us, here in Turkey, there is no need to be buying ready made coleslaw from the shops. Or ready made anything, for that matter, when it comes to side dishes. We make all our own meze and salads.
Your own coleslaw ingredients will be much fresher, crunchier, tastier and you can personalise it by choosing how much or how little of each ingredient you want. And prep time? Well, however long it takes you to chop and grate a few vegetables.
This coleslaw recipe makes a generous amount, so is perfect for when you’re entertaining – or for putting back in the fridge for keeping to yourself; by which time, you’ll have a lovely pinkness to it, too, from your red cabbage.
A Turkish Aegean Coleslaw
Where this becomes a more Turkish or Aegean coleslaw recipe is a move away from the perhaps more familiar mayonnaise dressing. We do use a little bit just to remove the sharpness from the flavour but our main ‘creamy’ ingredient in this coleslaw recipe is natural yoghurt.
We’re using full fat Turkish süzme yoghurt, obviously, but if you can’t get that, thick Greek natural yoghurt will do the same job.
In Fethiye, we buy our süzme yoghurt from the market or the local shops around the fish market. It’s homemade and sold by weight. The stall holders now also do a half fat version. Just look for the fridges that advertise ‘yarım yağlı’ if you prefer low fat versions.
Sweetness And Bite
For a bit of sweetness, we’re using grated apple and some grated carrot. And, for a bit of bite, our coleslaw recipe has a sliced onion, a good squeeze of lemon juice, a touch of dijon mustard and a little sprinkling of cumin, too. If you want to go even sweeter, the juice of an orange works wonders.
See, you can play with this coleslaw salad to suit yourself. Gotta love dishes like this where you can do taste tests as you go.
And it really is just a case of putting all those ingredients into a large bowl and giving them a good old mix. See how colourful and healthy it all looks in the early evening sunshine.
A Summery Salad But Winter Ingredients
Oddly, it’s one of those situations again where we tend to make coleslaw more often in winter, just like our homemade guacamole. Well, what else are you gonna do when cabbages are so prevalent on the market? And carrots. And citrus fruits.
How To Make Coleslaw Salad
So, let’s make our Turkish Aegean coleslaw…
A Homemade Coleslaw Recipe (Lahana Salatası)
- 1 small red cabbage thin outer leaves removed
- 2 large carrots washed, peeled & grated
- 1 medium-sized onion peeled & thinly sliced into half moons
- 1 medium-sized sweet green apple washed
- 3 tbsp süzme yoghurt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 dessert spoonful mayonnaise
- 1 dessert spoonful dijon mustard or mild mustard
- 1 lemon juiced
- 1 orange juiced (optional)
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- Cut your red cabbage into quarters, lengthways
- Remove the thick stem from the bottom of each quarter
- Now slice each quarter, thinly across the heart so that you end up with lots of shredded cabbage
- Add to a large bowl
- Add your grated carrot to the bowl along with the sliced onion
- Slice your apple into quarters, lengthways and remove the core from each quarter
- Grate the flesh into the bowl and discard the skin that will be leftover in your hand
- Now add your lemon juice (this will help prevent your grated apple from going brown)
- Add your mayonnaise, mustard and yoghurt
- Stir your mixture together and do a taste test
- If you like a sweeter coleslaw, add the orange juice
- Loosen your mixture with a drizzle of olive oil and add your cumin and chilli (if using)
- Mix everything together and do another taste test
- Add more of whatever you think is necessary
- As with all of our recipes, the calorie count is just a rough guide, depending on how much or how little of each of the coleslaw ingredients you use.
- The calories in our coleslaw recipe are per serving, based on 6 servings.
- Coleslaw is really versatile and can be used as a side dish, a sandwich filling and, as we like to do, a baked potato filling.
It’s that easy. By the time you’ve done all that and given all your coleslaw ingredients a good old mix up, you should have something resembling the photo below.
And now it’s just a case of doing a taste test. Add more of what you think is necessary – sometimes, we add a splash of vinegar, depending on how tangy the lemons are. Sometimes we’ll add more mustard and sometimes we’ll add more apple – it depends what flavours we’re in the mood for.
Time To Enjoy Your Coleslaw
And how to eat your coleslaw? Well, that’s entirely up to you, of course. It’ll keep in the fridge for two or three days so you can get creative with it.
If we’re not making rice or a side serving of bulgur, we love it as a cold, fresh alternative. It’s great as a sandwich filling. But most of all, most of all, we love our homemade coleslaw served like this:
Yes! Turkey has the perfect type of potato for making baked potatoes. Sarı patates – yellow potato. An obvious name from the fluffy yellow potato you can see in the photo.
Kumpir is a famous street food in Turkey (a baked potato with a ridiculous array of fillings) and we often experiment with baked potatoes at home. But if we’re keeping life simple; a ginormous oven baked potato with a thick crispy skin and filled with homemade coleslaw. Ahh, bliss!
- Most coleslaw recipes use white cabbage. We sometimes use red because we love the colour and also because they’re a more suitable size for us – white cabbages in Turkey are huge. If you use white cabbage, just make sure it’s a firm, crunchy one.
- For a more indulgent (and more Turkish) coleslaw, you can add walnuts, too. Yummy!
- We have lots of ideas here if you want to make your own Turkish dishes at home.