winter greens slaw

How is March with you? I hear about sudden bursts of warmth on the east coast, a few days of turning on the grill and going to the beach to soak up all the sun before early spring descends into the blahs again. Here? March — especially this March — means grey.

For awhile this year, I had this notion that I should develop some sort of fashion sense. Instead of bright-colored t-shirts and v-neck shirts and another pair of jeans, I would seek out more tailored pieces. I’d find labels for expensive designs inside the collars of shirts at the thrift store. I’d only buy clothes that cost someone else too much money. I’d build a wardrobe of essential pieces, the way every fashion magazine exhorts: a trench coat, a white-collared shirt, a pair of slacks. I’d limit my colors to a few judicious bright reds, a couple of sky blues, and everything else would be black or charcoal grey.

Can you guess that this never happened? There are plenty of reasons for this, mostly because it just isn’t me. But the real reason? As much as I love charcoal grey, I see plenty of it for months around here at a time. I need splashes of color, even if that purple shirt will be rain-splattered soon. So much for sophisticated fashion, now that I’m deep into my 40s. Give me the green t-shirt.

In the dregs of March, I’m happy for a swig of bright color.

Spring is coming. I know it. There’s a patch of blue sky behind the ominous grey outburst outside the window as I write. But as we’re not supposed to see the sun here until next Thursday (yes, you read that right), I’ll take this vibrant winter slaw with a bright citrus-yogurt-mint dressing that Danny came up with the other day. Having him home is plenty of light right now.

And hey, since we both work at home, we don’t need fancy wardrobes anyway. Give me comfortable color, thanks. I’ve had enough of the charcoal grey.


This salad is particularly easy if you have bags of colorful vegetables already chopped in the refrigerator. One day a week, we buy big bunches of red cabbage or dark green kale, Russian kale with the red edges, and spring green escarole. Or whatever is in season at that moment. I spend an hour or so rinsing them in the sink, spinning them dry, chopping them up, and wrapping them in damp paper towels. I tuck them into big bags I use again the next week. And so, whenever it’s lunchtime, I can reach for handfuls of color. 

We make this dressing in our blender to make sure it stays together well. You could easily toss it all in a big jar and give it a solid shake. With all this citrus, ginger, and mint, I like this as a topping for rice or a quick stir-fry as well. It’s a good thing to have around in these endless grey days. 

1/4 large head red cabbage, sliced thin
1/4 head escarole, chopped
1/4 bunch lacinato kale, chopped
1/4 bunch red Russian kale, chopped
1/4 bunch red leaf lettuce, chopped

1 large lime, juiced
1 large lemon, juiced
1 ounce peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups whole-milk yogurt
1 tablespoon fine-chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons honey
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Gathering the greens. Toss all the greens together in a large bowl.

Making the dressing. Combine the lime juice, lemon juice, ginger, yogurt, mint, canola oil, sesame oil, and honey into a blender. Blend until all the ingredients are well combined and a little frothy. Taste the dressing. If you’d like more citrus or honey, add it here. Add salt and pepper. Blend again and taste again. When the dressing tastes the way you want, you’re done.

Dressing the salad. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of the dressing around the side of the bowl of greens. Toss the salad with your hands, trying to coat every green. If you feel like you need more dressing, add it a tablespoon at a time. (Danny always wants just-enough dressing that you can barely taste it. I like a bit more.)

Feeds 4.

16 comments on “winter greens slaw

  1. Hannah

    Yes, we need color! I was just shaking my head at the sudden downpour…again. Spring will come, and until then we can eat delicious, crunchy, colorful salads like this one. Thank you for sharing it!

  2. Heidi

    Oi, the rain and clouds… I live a few hundred miles east of you so we’re getting a lot of wet gray stuff too! I was just thinking about dinner and what to make for my 7 year old princess and her daddy before they go to a school “ball”. She loves stuff like this! I have a most of everything but will need to adjust the greens for what I do have: mixed bag lettuce. Thank you Danny for the dressing! I’m going to make it just after I load up the dishwasher! Crossing fingers for sun… forecasted for Easter Sunday… long gray week ahead!

  3. Coco

    This looks good! I might give the greens a good massage while hand-mixing — I like my hardy greens wilted and tenderized, which can be accomplished with a bit of man-handling. Btw the greyish light in those pictures is really beautiful. What a gorgeously lit pile of leaves.

  4. Jessica

    My husband and I just moved to Seattle 6 months ago and I find myself very sartorially inspired by the deep, varying shades of green and grey in the landscape here. Not to say that bright colors aren’t a comfort/absolutely essential once in a while. 🙂

    I recently discovered how easy it is to chop a small head of lettuce – I am going to make this salad!

  5. Sondra Lord

    Shawna: A while back you asked how we keep our greens fresh. My Husband bought a Salad Sac from Lehman’s. They are in Ohio and have many items that use no power.
    The bag is made from Terry material and has a draw string. Just wash your greens and put in the bag. Seems to keep them crisp. It sells for $9.95 Their phone number is

    Happy new home and wear Lime and Purple.

  6. Alli

    I like your Liz Lewis bowl! I received one of her mugs over the holidays from my boyfriend’s momma (an island native) and it is quickly becoming my favorite. XO

  7. Ki

    Oooooh I’m going to try that dressing.

    This “spring” is driving me to distraction. Even the handful of daffodils that have tried to spring up in our area can’t quite seem to overcome the gray with their cheery selves. They deserve some sunlight and appreciation!

  8. Caz

    This looks so colourful and healthy. Just what you need to push the grey skies away. I think it’s always best to wear what is you. I have a bright yellow cardigan I love to pull on when it’s grey out 🙂

  9. Sirena

    Girl, you can buy classic, elegant staples in the brightest of colors! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. But either way, your clothes always looks great in your videos and pics. And thank god for thrift stores either way – the worse the economy has gotten, the better the labels at the secondhand shops, have you noticed?
    Thanks for inspiration not only about color in life AND in the kitchen, but smart post-shopping prep that helps you get the most out of all the beautiful produce we are blessed with in our world of plenty!

  10. molly

    I can pretty much taste this dressing through my screen. (And I think I just drooled on my keyboard.)

    I am of the (apparently oddball) tribe that adores endless gray days, whereas bright sun sends me to my wit’s end. But what I know, what is true, about any weather, is that it all passes eventually. I depend on that. Hang in there, good people. Slaw’s a mighty fine way to bide your time.

  11. InTolerant Chef

    Wear your years and colors outrageously! A good selection of colors in your food is good for your body, a good selection of colors on your body is good for your spirit!

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