Red Cabbage Coleslaw with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Red Cabbage Coleslaw with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing Recipe

This recipe was inspired by a dish described to me by Chef Doreen T. Ross. We "met" through and we've exchanged several emails about dishes. She recently made a plate of very successful fish tacos that used cabbage coleslaw instead of the more traditional choice of lettuce. Doreen made her coleslaw with a buttermilk ranch dressing that sounded delectable. I had to try it myself, so today I tried to recreate the coleslaw that Doreen described to me as a stand alone dish.

I adapted the recipe so the vegetarians in the house could partake, which means there are no eggs. If that's not an issue for you, a standard egg-based ranch dressing would work fine. To make vegetarian ranch dressing, I usually incorporate silken tofu, but as I started working on the dish I realized that I had bought the wrong kind at the store. I had liquid soy lecithin and xanthan gum in my pantry, so I used those instead. If you're familiar with egg-free recipes, xanthan gum and lecithin are an excellent egg substitute.

I didn't think my first iteration of the buttermilk ranch dressing had enough of a kick on its own, so I melted blue cheese and added champagne vinegar to the mix. Because of its rich color, shredded raw red cabbage seemed like the right canvas to showcase the light-colored dressing. I paired the cabbage with cubed Granny Smith apples for a little sweetness and additional color contrast.

The result is an unexpectedly complex and flavorful dish. It was a big success at my house, so I have to say thanks again to Chef Doreen for the tip!


Yields: 10 servings

1 red cabbage
2 tablespoons caramelized onions (click on the link for the recipe)
½ Granny Smith apple
¼ cup champagne vinegar
2 ounces blue cheese, coarsely crumbled
¼ teaspoon xanthan gum
¼ teaspoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon liquid lecithin
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon agave nectar
½ teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons granulated garlic (garlic powder)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons crème fraîche (optional)
¼ teaspoon white pepper, finely ground
1 teaspoon garlic chives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon French tarragon, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sweet basil, finely chopped
1 teaspoon flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
2 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


Prepping the apple:

Peel, core and dice the apple. Coat the diced apples in 1 tablespoon of champagne vinegar to prevent oxidation of the fruit.

Making egg-free buttermilk ranch dressing:

Place the crumbled blue cheese in a small saucepan and melt the cheese over low heat. Add the cheese to the buttermilk. Whisk well.

In a bowl, combine the xanthan gum, ½ teaspoon of olive oil and liquid lecithin. Add the blue cheese-flavored buttermilk to the xanthan gum / lecithin mixture. The sauce will thicken. Whisk well. Add the agave nectar, dry mustard, 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar, crème fraîche and granulated garlic. Season with salt and white pepper. Finish with the blend of herbs.

Prepping the cabbage: 

Quarter the cabbage through the root. Thinly shred the cabbage using the appropriate blade of a food processor or a mandoline.

Gather the cabbage in a large bowl. Add the rest of the champagne vinegar. Toss thoroughly. Set aside for about 10-20 minutes.

Drain and discard all the liquid. 

Assembly time:

Add the buttermilk ranch salad dressing, caramelized onions and cubed apples to the shredded cabbage. Toss well. Garnish with parsley.

Bon appétit!


Xanthan gum is a fine powder used as a binder and emulsifier. If you look at the list of ingredients for salad dressings and ice cream at the supermarket, you'll find that they contain xanthan gum. I use it for texture and as an egg white substitute. You can find it online or in any specialty food store such as Whole Foods.

I use liquid lecithin as an egg yolk substitute. You can also find this online or in any specialty food store like Whole Foods.

Crème fraîche has a much thicker consistency than regular sour cream. It has a richer, tangy flavor. You could always omit this ingredient and use low-fat buttermilk for a healthier version.

Blue Cheese Vinaigrette Recipe with Picture

The blue cheese I used was bleu d'Auvergne. If you find the flavor of blue cheese to be too strong, you can omit it or use goat cheese or any other soft, creamy cheese.

agave nectar

Agave nectar, sometimes called agave syrup, is a natural sweetener. In France, it's called Agave honey. Unlike honey, agave nectar has a long shelf life and does not crystallize over time. Agave nectar is made from the purified sap of cactus-like desert plants. It is very popular in Mexico.

Check out my other vinaigrette recipes.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on April 21, 2010.


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