Firecracker Coleslaw

It’s been a great 4th of July weekend. We’ve done it all. From the beach to the ice cream shop to the bbq for dinner.  Little Guy’s sleeping after another full day of playing with fire trucks, his kiddie pool and sandbox and in his newly redesigned play room.  The only thing on my 4th of July checklist we didn’t do was go see fireworks. We were going to take Little Guy, but when he complained that the vacuum was too loud we decided that maybe we should wait another year. So, I’m watching the Boston Pops on television as I write this.

Today is Monday and it’s supposed to be Meatless Monday. We had chicken, and it was wonderful. I had planned on having a simple pasta with marinara for dinner tomorrow to make up for it, but it looks like we’re having leftovers now. I don’t feel bad about it though because we are celebrating the birth of this country and summer and each other and it’s been pretty fantastic.  I am going to share the most dee-lish-ous barbecued chicken recipe with you soon, but for tonight I still have a meatless recipe for you.

A few years ago I was at some sort of food tasting for barbecue ideas, and one of the stands was sampling firecracker coleslaw. I don’t remember the vendor who featured the sample, but the coleslaw was one of the best I’d had. It was colorful and full of crunchy veggies with a sweet and sour flavor and a kick of heat. I’ve been playing around with recipes since then to try to replicate the flavor. What I now make and call firecracker coleslaw is far better than that sample I had years ago, and it’s the perfect side to serve on hot summer days. The lack of mayo keeps this salad light, and with only two tablespoons of olive oil it’s not to bad on the waistline either. I really hope you like this as much as I do.

I’ve tried a few things over the years to give the coleslaw the bright colors that make it look like fireworks. The sample I had years ago used purple cabbage but I didn’t like how the color bled all over the other veggies. Instead I use regular cabbage with carrots, red bell pepper and red onion. For burst of fire in your mouth I use the vinegar from jalapenos in the dressing. My crowd is a big fan of bite, but not of heat so I only use the pickle juice from the jalapenos, but if you have a higher tolerance for heat, I recommend chopping up a few of the pickled jalapenos and adding those into the salad as well. Something I love in other coleslaw recipes is the celery seed, so I have those in this slaw too, but I’ve also added brown mustard seeds to give another kick of flavor and great texture to the salad. Now that I’m watching the fireworks, I also realize that the seeds help with the fireworks illusion. They looks like the little sparkles in the fireworks. Yea me!

Summer’s only just now getting hot here in New England, and there is still loads of opportunities to impress your friends and frenemies with this burst of healthy flavor this summer. Enjoy!

Firecracker Coleslaw

serves 6-8 as a side

1 bag pre-cut classic coleslaw
2 large carrots, cut in matchsticks or grated
1 red bell pepper, cut in matchsticks
1/2 small red onion, sliced very thin

1/2 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons jalapeno pickling  juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

Chop all of the vegetables and toss in a large bowl.

In another bowl whisk all of the dressing ingredients together.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables and toss so that everything is evenly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours.

You can make this coleslaw as soon as three hours before serving or up to twenty-four hours in advance. Before serving drain off excess liquid and reserve a quarter cup of it to pour over the finished salad. Discard the rest of the liquid.


4 thoughts on “Firecracker Coleslaw

  1. I really like coleslaw. I have discovered this only as an adult (I used to think all coleslaw tasted like the stuff from KFC) and it is so lovely. I like the popping colors in yours! I will try this tomorrow.

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