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.
michelle @ Boards&knives says
Beautiful! I just love sesame oil – I'll have to try this dressing!
lynsey | lynseylovesfood says
oh all of these flavours!! so fresh and so wonderful, i totally understand the need for seconds. xo
Ana @ Ana's Rocket Ship says
I don't think I'd bother with seconds. I'll just know that I have to fill up my bowl first time round.
Haha, love this!! That'll be my approach from now on too. I don't know what it is about this salad, but it gets me good.
Elin Roberts says
Looking forward to trying this
I hope you enjoy it, Elin!
Dana Textoris says
This was delicious! I added a large clove of garlic and some minced fresh ginger to the dressing. Served this with warm brown rice drizzled with coconut aminos, with some sliced smoked tofu. We loved it! Just ate some leftovers - the texture was softer, but equally delicious!
Collet C says
This is absolutely amazing! The depth of flavor along with crunch of the veggies was fabulous!
Best recipe ever for Napa cabbage! Had all the fresh ingredients on hand from the local farm store. As neither of us like the taste of soy I made a Tahini dressing and it made a lovely, crunchy salad with several different meals.
So glad you're enjoying the recipe! Thanks for taking the time to come back and share your adjustments and rating—means so much to me and is helpful for others, too.
Topped with seared tuna steak. Delicious!
Whenever I see Napa cabbage at the store I think of this recipe. It’s a quick yummy meal. Great with soba noodles or rice.
Megan, you and me both! I'm happy to hear you love this one as much as I do. It's always a bit of preparation with all the chopping, but I find this salad never fails to satisfy. Thanks for taking time out of your day to share your feedback—means a lot to me. Happy cooking (and chopping) to you!