Early Summer Napa Slaw

napa-slawBright sunny days, cool misty nights and plenty of rain = heaven for cabbage and other leafy greens. So I wasn’t surprised when I saw the GIANT head of Napa cabbage in last week’s CSA bag. I was, however, a bit dismayed that my favorite cabbage slaw includes cherry tomatoes, which won’t make their cheery red selves known around these parts for at least a few more weeks.

Enter early summer slaw: crunchy pink radishes, spicy spring onions, sweet orange carrots, aromatic fennel, crisp apple and fresh tarragon. Tie it all together with a simple lime dressing and finish with toasted raw peanuts. Crunchy and tender, sweet & sour, grassy, bright, pungent, acidic: early summer harmony. Perfect for your 4th of July barbecue. Who needs cherry tomatoes?

Adapted (liberally) from Lime & Peanut Coleslaw, originally by Heidi Swanson at 101 Cookbooks.

napa-slawEarly Summer Napa Slaw


  • ½ of a large head of Napa cabbage, stems trimmed, leaves halved lengthwise then sliced thinly, crosswise
  • 5 medium radishes, scrubbed, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 small bulb fennel, finely diced
  • 1 small tart apple, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  • zest & juice from 2 small limes
  • salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • 1 ½ cups raw peanuts, toasted


  1. Combine all vegetables, apple and tarragon in a large bowl. Toss to mix. Add lime zest & juice, salt, pepper & cayenne. Toss well. Drizzle olive oil, toss and taste & adjust until dressing is balanced. If slaw needs a touch of sweetness, drizzle in a tiny amount of honey, toss and taste.
  2. Toss one last time and allow to rest at room temperature for about 15 minutes prior to serving, so cabbage will “relax” and wilt slightly. Serve at room temperature, garnished with a healthy scoop of peanuts. Keep peanuts in a separate bowl for maximum crunch. 

Serves 6 – 8.


  1. Nearly endless. Look for a balance in sweet & bitter, crunchy & soft, greens and red/orange/pink. For me, the apple and the honey I added at the end were key to balance the aggressive flavors of cabbage, radish and fennel.


Slaw will keep for up to 1 day in the refrigerator. Store peanuts separately, in an airtight container at room temperature.


Early summer.


  1. Pingback: Easy Summer Dinner Ideas — Simple Summer Dinner — Eat Well 101

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