Red Cabbage and Cucumbers with Sesame Tahini Dressing

Serves Prep Time Cook Time  Total Time
4 5 0 5


This recipe for our Sesame Tahini Dressing over a slaw of sorts is adapted from a salad a friend of mine served at a dinner recently. It's light and crisp, and pairs beautifully with hot and spicy food. Serve it with spare ribs, to fancy them up a bit. Or use it as a topping to a pulled pork sandwich. It's also delicious as a side salad, or in a meal made of several small salads.

This is the first time I've ever created a recipe that called for making additions to one of our dressings, but I LOVE the result and I think I'll be doing it again in the future. For this one, taking the Sesame Tahini Dressing, and giving it a boost of extra Sesame Oil and Vinegar, as well as the addition of fresh garlic and sugar, sweetens the dressing up considerably. It's not necessarily something I would want every day, but for this dish, the sweetness is welcome, especially if you are liberal with the pepper flakes.

One of the best things about this salad: it only gets better with time. If you chop the cucumbers thick, they stay firm, and absorb the flavors of the dressing, so that the next day, it is like a sweet kraut - a wonderful addition to a "leftover" sandwich.

If you have to chop the cabbage and the cucumbers by hand, this takes about 5 minutes. If you have a food processor like my beloved Breville SousChef, you'll be done in half the time. 

And also a moment of recognition for the genius behind the salad, Paul. On the night I first had this salad, he had the unenviable task of cooking for the editor of a major food magazine and another prominent food writer, and he's a computer programmer by day. But, undaunted and proving himself unflappable, he whipped up a this magical combination of freshness among other delicacies that night. We all walked away with the recipe, and this salad has become a staple in the homes of every last person who attended the dinner! (He may have even landed himself a mention in a column in the magazine!).

Now to make it....


1 head Purple Cabbage
Cucumber (large)
Spring Onion
Sesame Seeds
Red Pepper flakes
For the dressing
1/4 cup
1 1/2 Tbsp
Rice Vinegar
2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil
2 Tsp Sugar
1 Tsp Soy Sauce
2 large cloves Garlic


Cut the cabbage in half and core it. If using a food processor, use the small cheese grater attachment to "shred" the cabbage. If chopping it by hand, simply slice it as thinly as possible. It's nice to have this be a "soft slaw" rather than a stiff one.

Peel the cucumber and seed it if you choose. I'm not too fussy about seeding my cucumbers, and when using the small Persian cucumbers, I never do.

Pass the cucumber through the slicer of the food processor, or chop them about half an inch diameter. The goal here is to make them about the size of dice - large enough to not turn to mush, but not so large you have to cut them to eat like a lady/gentleman. 

I'm sure you could just as easily use a green cabbage, but for dramatic effect, that purple cabbage is a show stopper.

To whip up the dressing, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar, with a vigorous stir, then whisk in the Sesame Oil, Soy Sauce, Sesame Tahini Dressing. Pass the garlic through a garlic press and stir in to the sauce.

Drizzle the dressing over the cabbage and cucumbers.

Sprinkle Red Pepper flakes and Sesame Seeds on top as a garnish. 

Feeling extravagant? Add a few sprigs of parsley or cilantro. 

This salad can sit for a while and become more flavorful while you prepare the rest of your meal. Or serve with crusty bread and a smile.


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