Spicy Coleslaw

Makes about 2 quarts
Time: 20 minutes

More interesting, more flavorful, and far less fat-laden than traditional coleslaw, which is mayonnaise based. Dijon is the mustard of choice here, though you can substitute wholegrain mustard if you like it; steer clear of ordinary yellow or brown mustards.

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons sherry or balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive, peanut, or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sugar
6 cups cored and shredded Napa, Savoy, green, and/or red cabbage
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, peeled if desired, seeded, and diced
1 cup diced scallions
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

1. Whisk together the mustard and vinegar in a small bowl; add the oil a little at a time, whisking all the while.

2. Add sugar and whisk to dissolve.

3. Combine the cabbage, peppers, and scallions, and toss with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve (it's best to let this rest for an hour or so before serving to allow the flavors to mellow; you can let it sit longer, up to 24 hours, if you like). Just before serving, toss with parsley.

Shopping Tip: The best head cabbage is Savoy, the light green variety with crinkled leaves; if you can't find it, the standard tight, smooth, light green cabbage will do. Napa (also spelled Nappa) cabbage, a kind of "Chinese" cabbage, is a good romaine-like variety, terrific for raw salads and coleslaw. Reject any cabbages with yellow leaves, loose leaves, or those which are soft or not tightly packed.

Cooking Tip: If you're not using cabbage fresh for coleslaw, you can also braise, stir-fry, or sauté it. Simmering is also fine, but not for hours in the old "corned-beef-and-cabbage" style. Rather, separate the cabbage into leaves and plunge it into lots of boiling salted water until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Then drain and serve, simply salted, or drain and reheat according to Precooked Vegetables in Butter or Oil. It's done when crisp-tender to soft, but not mushy.