This napa cabbage salad is a stunning showcase for colorful winter produce. Sweet & tangy with lots of veggie crunch, it's an entertaining showstopper.
There’s exactly one thing I love about winter – the colorful produce! I know, I know, the winter is not so bad here in Austin, but I feel for those of you up north, because I used to be one of you. I live for warm sunny days, so I made this cabbage salad of bright winter produce with you in mind – to send some love – and lemons… and well, also some clementines.
What’s in this Cabbage Salad Recipe?
This recipe includes two major categories of ingredients. You start with a base of crispy veggies:
- Cabbage – Tender napa cabbage or savoy cabbage is best here.
- Fennel – If you can’t find fennel, thinly sliced celery would also be good.
- Radishes – Use a mix of watermelon and red radishes, or all red radishes.
- Carrots – If you can find them, purple carrots are gorgeous in this recipe, but orange ones taste just as good.
And add these extras for flavor and texture:
- Avocado, for creaminess
- Clementines, for a sweet, juicy contrast to the bitter, crisp cabbage
- Mint leaves, for surprising notes of fresh flavor
- Chopped almonds or toasted sesame seeds, for crunch and toasty, nutty flavor
A Bright Dressing for a Bright Cabbage Salad
Once your ingredients are prepped, toss them all with a tangy miso citrus dressing. The dressing ingredients are simple: lemon juice, clementine (or orange) juice, miso paste, ginger, and garlic. Zippy & bright, the citrus juices soften and tone down the bitterness of the veggies in this napa cabbage salad.
Cabbage Salad Recipe Tips
Before you start prepping your cabbage salad, here are a few of my best tips for making it truly stunning:
- Invest in a mandoline. I highly recommend you use a mandoline to make this recipe. It’s a must-have tool for cutting uniform, paper-thin slices of crisp veggies like radishes, fennel, and cabbage (aka all the ingredients in this salad). Really thin slices will soften and absorb the flavors of the dressing, and even better, using a mandoline makes your prep work faster! And if you don’t think you’d use a mandoline often enough to justify getting one – not so fast! It’s the tool you need anytime you want thin, crisp veggie slices like in this recipe, this recipe, or many more in our recipe index.
- Plan ahead. The longer the cabbage, radishes, carrots, and fennel marinate in the dressing, the more flavorful this salad will be. I recommend allowing at least 30 minutes for the veggies to mingle with the dressing before you serve this cabbage salad.
- But save the garnish for the last minute! While the crisp veggies need time to marinate, you’ll want to add the avocado, herbs, nuts, and sesame seeds right before serving. That way, the avocado & herbs will be nice & green, and the nuts will be crunchy when you dig in.
Napa Cabbage Salad Serving Suggestions
This napa cabbage salad is a great side dish for dinner or brunch. It’s wonderful as part of a holiday spread, but I also like it alongside soba noodles for a simple weeknight meal. For brunch, try serving it with a frittata, breakfast casserole, or even avocado toast!
I also love it for lunch because all of these crunchy vegetables keep well in the fridge for 2 to 3 days after it’s first assembled. See this post for my best lunch-packing tips.
If you love this cabbage salad recipe…
Citrus Cabbage Salad
- 1 large fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
- 1 medium napa or savoy cabbage, shredded
- 2 large or 4 small carrots, sliced into thin coins
- 2 watermelon radishes or 4 red radishes, thinly sliced
- 2 clementines, sliced or segmented
- 1 small avocado, diced
- Generous handful of mint
- ⅓ cup sesame seeds or chopped almonds, toasted
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup fresh clementine juice
- 1 tablespoon miso paste
- In a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, garlic, ginger, lemon and clementine juices and the miso paste.
- In a large bowl mix together the fennel, cabbage, carrots, radishes, half the clementines and half the avocado. Toss with half the dressing and let sit for 10 minutes. Season to taste adding more dressing as you like. Assemble the salad on a platter and top with the remaining clementines and avocado, mint and sesame seeds or almonds. Serve with the remaining dressing.
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