Oh, Christmas comes but once a year (therefore it’s time for Gwennie’s coleslaw)

I’ve got a few things for you in the run up to Christmas, and I’d better admit right here and now that, believe it or not, I’m a completely, non-ironic, lover of Christmas.  Although, to be clear, I’m not a believer in god.  I just like food and hanging out with my family.

We don’t do the traditional Christmas fare, nobody much likes it and there’s really nothing you want to be doing less than roasting some great thing when it’s potentially going to be 40°.  Although, given we’re in Melbourne there’s always the random possibility that it ends up being 12° – remember that year (probably 15 years ago now) when it actually snowed in the outer suburbs?  We also change the spread up a lot every year – keeps it exciting.

There are some family traditions though, and the most longstanding one is my grandma Gwen’s coleslaw.  Gwen died quite a few years ago now and since then I have appointed myself coleslaw maker in chief to continue the tradition.  You’ve seen a few quick versions of this on the blog before, but today I’m giving you the proper, three-day version.  This is a no-mayonnaise slaw*, it’s fresh, and tangy, and crunchy (can you tell I’ve been watching too many food network shows?  I’ll be describing things as zingy and telling you that lemon adds a fresh pop of flavour any moment now).  It’s a fab side and there’s always enough left over to put in a sandwich on boxing day.  Or just eat it straight out of the container with the fridge door open…

I’ve got two more recipes for you in the next week, both of which will be eaten by us this Christmas.

This is a really easy recipe but you do need to make it, at the very least, 24 hours before you want to eat it.  It’s better if it’s 48.


¼ cabbage – white or Savoy
1 onion
1 large or 2 small carrots
3 or 4 celery sticks
1 green capsicum
big handful of parsley (my grandma used curly but I use flat)
1 ½ – 2 TBS sugar


¾ cup cider or white wine vinegar
½ cup oil (I use olive oil but a more neutral oil works perfectly too)
1 heaped teaspoon seeded mustard (dijon or mustard powder are great too, don’t even think about american mustard)
2 tsp salt OR 1 tsp salt and 1 ¼ tsp celery salt


Slice the cabbage into thin strips – doesn’t have to be shaved using a mandolin or anything, a sharp knife will do it.  Dice the onion and the capsicum finely.  Grate the carrot and cut the celery into thin half moons – I use the food processor with a grating/slicing disk for these two, but a grater and a knife are fine.  Roughly chop the parsley.

Put the vegetables in a big container or bowl – you’ll be amazed how much space they take up – and toss together to mix up.  Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the vegetables.

Put all the dressing ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.  When boiling, turn off the heat and pour slowly and evenly over the cabbage mixture.  At this stage, in my hand written notes, it explicitly says “don’t stir”, but I have to admit I’ve never been able to resist giving it a little toss in the dressing.

Leave in the fridge overnight.  The next day pour off the excess liquid and stir (I often skip this step because I like the juices).  It can be eaten now but it’s heaps better if you leave it another day.


*see other posts about coleslaw to find me ranting about how much I don’t like mayo.  I mean, I don’t really hate it as much as I like to make out – can’t really argue with a really good aioli with chips – but, seriously, get the fuck off my sandwich.

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