The name of this salad doesn't do it justice. It's so much more than a salad with dressing. It's crisp, refreshing, sweet, tangy, crunchy, and the kind of salad that you'll devour with swift, uninterrupted fork-to-mouth movements.
This salad is modeled off of that addictive napa cabbage salad that typically incorporates bits of crunchy ramen noodles. Do you know the one I'm talking about? I first fell in love with that salad as a little girl when my step aunt brought it to a Thanksgiving gathering. She's brought it every year since, and it's always the first dish to disappear.
The flavor of this salad is very similar but with a slight twist on the dressing. White sugar is replaced by vitamin-rich grade B maple syrup. Cold-pressed olive oil takes the place of canola oil. Tamari sits in for soy sauce to keep things gluten-free.
In place of the ramen noodles, you'll find crunchy sunflower seeds. I also added red peppers, carrots, and cilantro to perk up the freshness and color. The result is a refreshingly crisp and crunchy salad with a tangy and sweet vinaigrette. It's packed with flavor, easy to make, and I can't get enough of it at the moment.
The recipe makes enough for 3 to 4 light meal-sized servings but could easily serve 6 to 8 as a side. Dan and I devoured the entire recipe in a few hours this past Saturday. The plan was to have it for lunch, but we went back in for seconds as a sort of pre-dinner/late afternoon snack, and both of us drank the lingering dressing that collected in the bottoms of our bowls. Too good to waste!
Napa Cabbage Salad with Sweet Tamari-Sesame Dressing
Napa Cabbage Salad
- 1 large head napa cabbage, washed and finely-chopped
- 7 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
- 1 red pepper, seeded and cut into matchsticks
- ½ to ¾ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 to 3 tablespoons sunflower seeds (I use raw sunflower seeds)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons sesame seeds (I use un-hulled sesame seeds for added calcium)
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 3 ½ tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
- In a large serving bowl, combine the cabbage, scallions, carrots, red pepper, and cilantro.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, olive oil, sesame oil, tamari, and pure maple syrup until emulsified.
- Pour the dressing over the salad, thoroughly toss to coat, and sprinkle with the seeds.