Broccoli Slaw That Never Got Stir Fried

by Maria Theresa Maggi on December 31, 2012

This time of year we start making promises to ourselves. But maybe some resolutions are made to be broken. Or the breaking brings us a happy accident we hadn’t bargained for.

In honor of that kind of trickery, I guess I should call this an “unmake.” My best intention when her post first came out (paving the road to we know where) was to make Susan’s wonderful sounding recipe Broccoli Slaw Stir Fry with Tofu substituting mushrooms for the tofu, so I could have it soy free. Romeo and I even walked farther than we usually do on our second walk of the day so we could go to a grocery store on our end of town that carries the packages of slaw.  It was a very windy Fall day right after Susan’s post; gold and yellow leaves still fluttered around us as we waited to cross a very busy intersection, me bundled up in my new Sherpa hoodie with a sweater underneath, Romeo standing regally in his blue service vest.

I really did think I was ferrying this package of broccoli slaw home in my backpack to make that stir fry. But when I set it out on the counter, the Call to Crunch summoned me.

Susan and I have joked about this before. She is an expert at ingeniously devising  roasted sautéed ways to eat her salad, like Hot Skillet Salad or Ridiculously Easy Grilled Romaine Salad. These recipes sound really good to me, honest they do. I’ve made versions of Hot Skillet Salad when it’s really really cold here. But truth be told, each time I bought a head of romaine with the intention to grill it, I ate it all before I got the chance.  I buy 5 pound bags of carrots and pull 3 or 4 larges ones out a day to munch on.  Like a horse,  I’ll eat out of your hand every time if you dangle a raw carrot or apple in front of me. I have watched the faces of friends try to compose themselves out of amazement (or horror?) as I wrap something in a big raw kale leaf and dig in.

So there it was. I couldn’t resist the thought bearing down on me that said: “Wouldn’t it be okay to make at least some of this a salad? I can make the stir fry with the rest of the package tomorrow.” And that was the beginning of the end of Stir-Fried Broccoli Slaw in my kitchen. The will to make the original recipe unraveled itself from there.

But the neat thing that came out of the unraveling was a simple and wonderful new slaw treatment. I can’t stop eating it for lunch or dinner, even if I don’t have an actual package of broccoli slaw.  If that isn’t a  complete post-modern “unmake(over)”, I don’t know what is. But I’ll let you decide.

Un-Stir-Fried Broccoli Slaw Salad

Fill your bowl with:

a fistful of broccoli slaw
another of chopped green cabbage, any kind
another of chopped red cabbage
another of julienned carrots
and a final one of something dark green (I used baby broccoli leaves from the plants in my garden, baby kale leaves, baby arugula, broccoli rabe, nasturtium leaves)
a quarter of an apple, sliced

other add ins:
sliced green onion
chopped cilantro or mint
some cooked diced Japanese sweet potato

The “un-dressing”* ingredients:
lime juice (a generous tablespoon)
(I do two capfuls from the bottle of organic lime juice since fresh organic limes are quite expensive here, and usually not very juicy by the time they arrive in northern Idaho)
1 tbs of white wine vinegar, or white balsamic or rice vinegar
(I used nasturtium infused white wine vinegar I made earlier in the summer)
1 teaspoon of Hoisin Sauce
a splash of red chili sauce
a shake of garlic granules
a shake of onion granules

*I didn’t bother to mix these ingredients up together. Instead I put them each in turn on top of my bowl full of veggies, then tossed it all together. And then I followed an admonition our local now famous “Farm Girl” Mary Jane Butters gave in the co-op newsletter long ago: “Eat your salad with a spoon.”  It is the best way to get all the crunchy bits in their “undressed” glory.

And to unmake even my unmake a little further: a few days into eating this I realized the Hoisin Sauce has soy as primary ingredients. So I came up with a substitute that’s “almost” Hoisin sauce, at least in the neighborhood of taste. In a tiny bowl I mixed 1 tsp of date syrup, 1 tsp of coconut aminos and 1/8 tsp (or less) of peanut butter, and sprinkled that over the top instead of the “real” Hoisin Sauce.

And, as always, I add a teaspoon of ground golden flax to finish off the bowl.

So if you hear the Call to Crunch, “unmake” yourself a salad from that package of broccoli slaw waiting to get stir fried. And “unmake” the dressing by sprinkling each ingredient over your slaw.

Epilogue: a step back toward formalism (with a twist).

These last days of the year feature inches of snow on the ground and more falling. In early November the temperature dropped considerably and stayed below freezing with little to no snow. On the day I should have made an extra fire in the masonry stove, even I was forced to stir fry my salad, ever so slightly, until all the colors turned bright, but the texture still crunched. And I mixed the undressing together into a dressing before I poured it on the warm veggies. And I added rice. And sweet potato cubes. And I ate it all. Romeo is my witness.

A close reading of this bowl, and subsequent bowls of tossed or barely stir fried slaw through December, demonstrate a consistent post-modern contradiction: broccoli slaw has disappeared completely as an ingredient in the Broccoli Slaw That Never Got Stir Fried–But Sometimes Gets Ever So Slightly Warmed Up.  Despite the absence of this originally essential ingredient, I still relish the unmade, remade crunchy goodness in every deconstructed bite. Once again, absence makes this salad-lover’s heart grow ever fonder.

Happy New  Year!

Maria (moonwatcher)



Leave a Comment

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary December 31, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Happy New Year from a neighbor in Washington State….I thoroughly enjoyed your writing…..and will be getting busy with your technique!


2 moonwatcher December 31, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Happy New Year back to you, Mary, and thank you so much! Glad to have a “neighbor” from Washington join me.


3 Karen January 1, 2013 at 8:16 am

Funny post, made me laugh, and the un-stir-fried broccoli salad looks quite yummy!


4 moonwatcher January 1, 2013 at 11:28 am

Thanks Karen!


5 Julie January 1, 2013 at 11:32 am

Your words always make me smile. Wishing you a very healthy, happy 2013.


6 kally January 1, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Happy New Year from an island in BC. This sounds great. My mission in the next few weeks is to use everything in the fridge and freezer. It is all paid for, and sits there, waiting for me to bring it back to life. I think I will make something like your slaw today.


7 moonwatcher January 1, 2013 at 2:59 pm

Happy New Year, kally! I hope you enjoy your own unique version of the slaw!


8 Donna McFarland January 2, 2013 at 3:55 am

This arrived JUST in time Maria, as I have a bag of broccoli slaw in the fridge right now waiting to have something…done with it! Inspiring, as always you are!! Gosh, I wish i could send you some of our Florida warmth and sunshine! Hugs to you! Donna


9 moonwatcher January 2, 2013 at 9:17 am

Hi Donna! So glad to help you out with that package of broccoli slaw! And setiment of Florida warmth and sunshine warms me right up. Thanks, and hugs back to you!



10 Sally January 2, 2013 at 10:02 am

Hi Maria – Happy New Year

My plan at Christmas with a family of food pushers (“one bite/meal won’t hurt”) included salad which my sister had mostly grown – including little cherry tomatoes – we live in Texas and have only recently had a frost so salad was still growing 🙂 Anyway I made no salad dressing plans … And was preparing to eat my naked salad when I got passed the cranberry relish which someone had made. I learned to my delight that cranberry relish – while containing some sugar – makes a really delightful holiday salad dressing. I love it when things like this happen.


11 moonwatcher January 2, 2013 at 11:48 am

Happy New Year, Sally! I love this story and the serendipity of the cranberry relish providing the perfect dressing for the garden fresh salad! Thanks for sharing it.



12 kally January 2, 2013 at 5:10 pm

I made something sort of like this last night. The dressing was really quite good. Thanks


13 moonwatcher January 2, 2013 at 5:12 pm

You’re welcome, kally! Thanks for letting me know.


14 Phil Druker January 3, 2013 at 9:15 am

Thanks, Maria— fun piece, great writing


15 moonwatcher January 3, 2013 at 10:51 am

Thanks Phil! 🙂


16 elizabeth January 11, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Now that is a beautiful slaw salad.
Peace and Raw Health,


17 moonwatcher January 11, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Thanks so much, Elizabeth!


18 Ginger January 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm

I made a bag of this broccoli slaw into miso pickled veggies. Oh, my…they are so good.


19 moonwatcher January 20, 2013 at 8:56 pm

That’s a great idea, too.


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