As daily temperatures start to climb, I want fewer hot dishes and instead crave foods that refresh. And this simple, fast, and easy Napa cabbage salad with champagne vinaigrette sure fits the bill. Napa cabbage is a great summer option for salads, with it’s crunchy, water-filled leaves, and sweetly mild, celery-like flavor.
My mom made lots of Napa cabbage salad when I was growing up in Brazil. Not long after Steve and I were married, I picked up some Napa cabbage at the store and put together a salad as a side for one our meals. Steve asked me what it was, and then told me he had never had a Napa cabbage salad in his life. And sure enough, when I think back on all the years since then that I have been here in the US, I don’t think I have ever seen it served raw, in a salad. It always seems to be cooked.
That makes sense because the leaves are sturdy enough that they stand up to cooking without falling apart. Like bok choy, it is very popular in Asian stir-fry dishes. I’ve also seen it in recipes for soups or stews. Well, I’m here to tell you that it makes a darn good salad too. And according to the various nutrition sites I found online, it has some pretty amazing benefits.
- It is almost calorie free
- It’s full of antioxidants
- It is a good source of folic acid
- It’s a good source of vitamin C
- And it is a great source of fiber
All that, and tasty salads too? I’m in!
Let’s make the Napa Cabbage salad with champagne vinaigrette
I like to add lots of fresh chopped parsley to my Napa cabbage salad. Parsley is a great source of vitamins C and K (along with many other goodies). And to me, it represents everything that is light and fresh. That’s one of the reasons I love tabouli so much. Fresh parsley just tends to make everything brighter for me.
Why champagne vinegar? Because it is lighter than the other wine vinegars, in my opinion. It adds a delicate fruity taste to the dressing that I really enjoy.
Lately, complicated salads, with lots of ingredients and exotic combinations are all the rage. And I love those too. But the simple salads like this one remind me of my mom. And just because there may not be a ton of ingredients, this simple Napa cabbage salad will not disappoint in the flavor department.
Mix the dressing ingredients first so that they have time to meld and get happy. This dressing takes a fair amount of garlic, so you can cut back a little if you prefer. But I love the bold taste of the garlic after it has slightly pickled in the fruity champagne vinegar.
Using a sharp knife, cut the Napa cabbage leaves, starting at the bottom, into 1/2 inch strips. I find it easier to wash the leaves in a salad spinner after they are cut.
Then combined the cut cabbage, sliced onions and chopped parsley in a big bowl. Add the dressing a bit at a time, tossing between each addition, until dressed to your liking. You will likely have some dressing left. You can save it for another salad on another day. Or, get creative and re-purpose it for other dishes. Cooking is so much more fun when you experiment!
Isn’t it pretty? And doesn’t it just LOOK fresh and herbilicious?
Steve and I paired it with a grilled flank steak, and it was the perfect cool, juicy and flavorful foil to the grilled meat. With so much delightful crunch to boot.
I had more than one helping, it was so good. Ok. Maybe even more than two helpings.
It’s ok, remember that “almost calorie free” benefit? Well, I took full advantage and then some. Isn’t it wonderful when foods that are good for you taste so good?
- FOR THE DRESSING
- ¼ cup Champagne vinegar
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 4 tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons agave nectar, or more to taste
- Cracked pepper
- FOR THE SALAD
- 8 cups Napa cabbage, sliced into ½-inch strips
- 1½ cup thinly sliced sweet onion
- 1 cup chopped parley
- Mix the salad dressing ingredients together and allow it to sit at room temperature for a few minutes while preparing the salad ingredients.
- In a large bowl, mix the Napa cabbage, onions and parley together until evenly distributed.
- Drizzle in the dressing a bit at a time, tossing between each addition, until the salad is dressed to suit.
- Serve immediately.