The Perfect Family Reunion Dish

IMG_4204Y'all, as far back as I can remember I've had a love-hate relationship with coleslaw. I love it because coleslaw, made well, reminds me of home. As in Tennessee home. Because made just right, coleslaw makes gnawing on a barbecue sandwich at a favorite Memphis barbecue joint even more delightful. If a picnic is happening in the South, it is happening with fried chicken and coleslaw. And if I ever show up for a family reunion and there is no coleslaw, I will know I have arrived at some other family's reunion. Because we always, always have coleslaw at reunions. In fact, coleslaw is practically the only thing semi-cold you can find to eat in the South in the summer that didn't start out frozen.

Here's the upsetting thing about coleslaw. First of all, it's cabbage. Shredded cabbage I am sad to say. I know. Hard to get past that little fact. Cabbage is one of those upsetting words that just sounds like it stinks (and for heaven's sakes, if you heat that stuff up it DOES stink. So, don't cook cabbage is the lesson of the day.)

Additionally, many coleslaw recipes involve slopping cups of mayonnaise atop shredded cabbage then pouring some buttermilk on top and calling it a day. (Did anyone hear me make a wretching sound? Because I just did.)

Thing is, I HATE mayonnaise. Always have. My sister once thought I was having a seizure at a restaurant, when in actuality I had taken a bite of a BLT that had mayo on the bread, resulting in my eyes rolling back in my head while stamping my feet and making screaming-with-my-mouth-shut noises and then spitting it all into my napkin with great fanfare (This wasn't recent ... I was 7 years old. Not that I wouldn't have the exact same reaction today. Probably would. To this day I disassemble BLTs to insure proper care has been taken to keep mayo off all bread.)

Then my aunt recommended a coleslaw recipe to me that sounded short on mayo, and thus quite doable. I have tweaked the recipe, and it's so yummy, conjuring up memories of dinner on the ground at the tiny Methodist church in Pinson, Tenn. or fueling up before digging in the clay at the creek in Nankipoo, Tenn. that I have decided to make this a regular summertime side dish.

Before I share the recipe, please know I am very much a "dash of this" cook. So, you should adjust this recipe according to your personal tastes. If you like it sweeter, kick up the sugar. If you like it tart, increase the dijon mustard and vinegar. If you want it a little creamier, add more mayo (just don't have me over for dinner.)

Amy Mac's Apple Walnut Coleslaw
1 bag pre-washed coleslaw
1 large apple, cored and chopped
1/2 purple onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4-1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 cup vinegar
1 cup sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 T. mayonnaise
1 T. dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. celery salt
1 T. poppy seeds
1/4 tsp. pepper

Whisk together the oil and next 9 ingredients. Taste the dressing for consistency and taste, adding more ingredients incrementally as desired. Once you've perfected the dressing, toss with coleslaw, apple and onion and chill for at least an hour. Toss with walnuts immediately prior to serving. 

The acidity of the lemon juice & vinegar keeps the apple from browning, which means your dish is yummy and cute upon arrival at your summer fete.



1 comment:

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