A Little Crunch of Cabbage–Kathi’s Great Salad

great salad, potluck dish, cabbage salad, mixed greens, cole slaw mix, Craisins, cranberries, almonds


This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Mondays over at Amy’s blog, Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free. This post is also linked to my fantastic BlogHer Food ’09 travel buddy Diane’s Friday Foodie Fix—Cranberries at her blog, The W.H.O.L.E. Gang.

As a child, I was really not exposed to a lot of different foods. Looking back, my mother largely prepared the foods my father liked and, overall, that was a somewhat limited menu. If my sister or I tried something and didn’t like it, well, we never had to eat it again … Mom happily fixed us a quick alternative. That seemed like a wonderful thing as a child, but as I grew up I found out there were lots of foods that I’d never eaten at all before and many others that I’d never really given a chance.

When I met my future husband while I was still in college, he introduced me to steamed artichokes. Heaven … pure heaven! (Thank goodness for that one high school sweetheart originally from San Jose who introduced him to artichokes!) When I was pregnant with my son, I wanted to eat healthier, so I tried broccoli again. It soon became my new favorite vegetable. Just last year, I finally learned to enjoy asparagus. (Grilled asparagus with a little olive oil and seasonings is incredibly good.) I suppose it’s somewhat surprising that at my age I am still learning to appreciate new foods, but it also makes sense. When one goes gluten free and takes the easy approach (gfe), you consider all the foods that are naturally gluten free. Fruits and vegetables top that list. As they are so inherently healthy, it just seems like a “win-win” to add more to your menus.


At one of our girlfriend dinners a few months ago, my dear friend, Kathi, volunteered to bring a salad that she promised was great and easy to make. (Someone had made it at a potluck she’d attended and she fell in love with it. Good recipes spread as quickly as bad gossip … or “good” gossip, depending up on which camp you’re in on that topic! LOL) She showed up with a grocery bag that contained all the ingredients she’d picked up on the way: romaine, spinach, cole slaw mix, almonds, dried cranberries, and Briannas poppy seed dressing. She mixed it up in a salad bowl and in 5 minutes, it was ready. Wow—such a great contribution to a dinner or potluck without hours of preparation needed. It was beautiful and it did taste great—a colorful combination of so many of my favorite ingredients producing a variety of flavors and a nice mix of chewiness and crunchiness.


Amazingly, the ingredient that I found myself enjoying the most in the salad was from the cole slaw mix: the shredded cabbage. The pungent flavor and just the little added crunch factor were surprisingly irresistible. I had always thought I hated cabbage. I had even suppressed a frown when Kathi had brought out the bag of cole slaw mix when she first made the recipe for us. But after eating the salad and enjoying it so much, I found myself adding the remaining cole slaw mix (the recipe only calls for a partial bag) to other salad greens for a quick salad. Sometimes, I topped the cole slaw mix with tuna salad or some sliced chicken. Every raw cabbage-based concoction I came up with was  good, quite good.


The three-color cole slaw mix has now become a standard on my grocery list and a staple in my diet. (Of course, you can just purchase cabbage and do your own shredding, too.) Now, I often make my own single serving version of Kathi’s Great Salad, usually only adding a few dried cranberries, substituting different nuts for the almonds depending upon what I have on hand, adding different, simple dressings like a little extra virgin olive oil (or Gluten Free Kay’s delightful vinaigrette), and topping my salad with a little sliced chicken or salmon from time to time.


This salad recipe is ideal for sharing with folks who are not normally salad fans. They will try it and then surprise themselves by eagerly asking for more. For example, last night I  took it to a family potluck (where the salads eaten are typically potato salad and pasta salad LOL), and it won rave reviews. I brought home just enough to enjoy for lunch today. I often prepare it for our celiac/gluten intolerance support group meetings. Group members now call it “our salad.” It really is a great salad, no matter exactly how you make it or what you call it. I am so grateful to Kathi for bringing it to our girlfriend dinner and re-introducing me to the crunch of cabbage!


Great Salad 

(Click here for a print version of this recipe.)

one bag of Romaine (I use organic, so I use one box, I’ve also used spring mix, butter lettuce, and other greens when Romaine was not available)

one bag of spinach (again, I use organic, so I use one box; see note above on using other greens if spinach is not available)

one-half bag of three-color cole slaw mix (shredded green cabbage, red cabbage, and carrots)

one small package of slivered almonds (sliced almonds also work)

one small package of Craisins (original flavor is gf per my research) or equivalent amount of dried cranberries

one bottle of Briannas poppy seed dressing or equivalent amount of homemade poppy seed dressing

Mix all together except Craisins/cranberries. Sprinkle those over the salad once mixed (otherwise, they tend to sink to the bottom) and serve. This salad is best eaten immediately, but it will keep fairly well for up to 48 hours (if there is any left!).

Shirley’s Notes: Briannas poppy seed dressing is not certified gluten free, but I find no ingredients of concern on the label and I’ve also seen it on some gf lists. Regarding the option of homemade poppy seed dressing, I just found a simple poppy seed dressing recipe online and plan to adapt it to my own tastes using olive oil and perhaps some honey as part of the sweetener. (The main ingredient of Briannas poppy seed dressing is canola oil and I’d rather not use that.) Easy salad recipes are a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen. Usually when they participate in making something, they feel that “pride of ownership” and will excitedly dig in, as well as promote the merits of their dish to everyone else! Even more than one child can help make a salad like this one … one adds the spinach, one adds the romaine, and so on.

Update: If you’re looking for more wonderful ideas on using greens, specifically spinach, head on over to Diane’s The W.H.O.L.E. Gang blog. This week’s Friday Foodie Fix features spinach recipes and will have a roundup of great recipes. :-) Diane hosts this informative and helpful carnival every Friday.


Not just GF, but GFE!

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52 Responses to “A Little Crunch of Cabbage–Kathi’s Great Salad”

  1. Therese on January 25th, 2009 4:06 pm

    This looks and sounds delicious. I love cabbage and do include it in a salad of tossed greens sometimes.
    Try adding it to your homemade vegetable soup for lots of good peppery flavor. Actually, I have a friend who buys the Knorr Vegetable soup mix and adds half a head of shredded cabbage to it. That’s it and she loves it. Not sure if that’s GF, I’m guessing maybe not.

    I must say, I appreciate this post. I needed to get away from that clementine cake and think about fruits and vegetables. Fortunately, I like a good number of them. Can you believe I have never had steamed artichokes, though?

    I think I’ll make Kathi’s special salad one night this week.

    eta: just looked at the poppyseed dressing recipe, looks like what I do. I make it in a jar, shake it all up, and use it for the nect week or so. For the “onion juice” I just grate onion with a microplane. If you do make the dressing, try this salad sometime:
    endive or romaine or whatever green you love
    grapefruit segments
    orange segments optional
    thinly sliced red onion
    sweet poppyseed dressing


    Ah, see? Your wonderful GFE musings have got me craving SALADS! It’s a good thing. :)

  2. Therese on January 25th, 2009 4:22 pm

    I’m sorry, just want to add that now that I’m thinking of it, I don’t think I use red onion on this salad. Endive is nice here because it’s bitter but use what you like. You’ll die when you taste the grapefruit with the dressing.

    p.s. I love your sweet tablecloth.

  3. Nance on January 25th, 2009 5:01 pm

    I’m a huge fan of just boiled or sauteed cabbage with butter as a veg for dinner. OR, I love it, raw and shredded, on a fish sandwich. Sadly, cabbage does not always “like me”, so I have to resort to some OTC remedies, but it’s so worth it!

  4. noble pig on January 25th, 2009 7:44 pm

    Very nice, the craisins and the poppy seed dressing really make this quite a flavorful dish.

  5. Shirley on January 25th, 2009 8:33 pm

    Therese–Knorr vegetable soup mix is one of those products that appears to be GF, but Knorr is somewhat noncommittal. However, they do state that “ingredients that may contain gluten are always listed on the label.” That’s a big plus, as current FDA requirements only require that wheat be shown (wheat is one of the eight major allergens … if a product contains barley or rye, it does not have to be listed). More of Knorr’s statement can be found here: http://www.us.knorr.com/faq.aspx?id=1&nav=35 However, I’ve seen Knorr vegetable soup mix used in recipes on gluten-free sites. To get to the rest of your comments …

    1) I love your friend’s simple soup idea. :-)
    2) I am definitely steaming artichokes for you the next time we get together!
    3) Ooh, on your salad ideas. Whether or not they should all be in the same salad with the poppy seed dressing, I am a big fan of endive and red onions in salad. Juicy grapefruit segments covered with the poppy seed dressing sound fantastic! (Briannas suggests peaches with its poppy seed dressing, so fruit and that dressing definitely go together.)
    4) Thank you! I got both the linen tablecloth and lovely linen flowered placemat at our wonderful charity thrift shop. Less money spent on such essentials means more money for food and travel and all money raised goes to a long list of worthy charities!

    Nance–More great, easy ideas for cabbage! I’m curious if you have issues with sauerkraut. You’d mentioned eating that before. Some folks say that the body reacts differently to fermented products.

    noble pig-Cathy, exactly, thanks–I think you’ll really enjoy it.

    BTW, yes, posting a salad recipe was definitely deliberate. I needed a break from the goodies, too. LOL


  6. Jennifer on January 26th, 2009 8:03 am

    This sound so good. I am a salad fanatic, as Shirley knows. And cabbage has such powerful healing properties for the digestive tract.

  7. Cindi on January 26th, 2009 12:29 pm

    Shirley, I don’t know if you remember this – or if you ever knew it – but I absolutely LOVE cabbage. It and asparagus are my two favorite veggies. I can’t help it – I gotta’ share a recipe for all the cabbage lovers out there. This is very easy and quite flexible, so use ingredients in whatever quantity you prefer. It’s called “Confetti Salad.” Mix 2 cups shredded red cabbage, one 9-oz can white beans (drained), one 11-oz can mandarin oranges (drained), 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, 2 large sliced scallions, 3 tbsps extra virgin olive oil whisked together with 2 tbsps balsamic vinegar, 2 tbsps orange juice, salt and pepper to taste. That’s it. I’ve used different beans (pinto, kidney, black), light Italian dressing instead of EVOO and balsamic vinegar, almonds instead of walnuts and various other modifications depending on what I have on hand.

    I love your blog!!

  8. Shirley on January 26th, 2009 4:50 pm

    Jennifer–You are not only a salad fanatic, you make the world’s best salads. Any time you share one of your salads, those of us who get to enjoy it are so grateful! You never have a morsel left, so you know it’s true. :-) I count on you and the others here to expound upon the nutritional benefits of certain foods!

    Cindi–I do remember that! (An extreme fondness for radishes also comes to mind. LOL) Please don’t apologize for sharing a recipe … that is exactly what I want people to do here. And, look at the wonderful recipe you shared, not only is it easy and full of healthy ingredients, BUT it’s naturally GF; i.e., GFE! That’s what it’s all about here … showing how you can make fabulous dishes and meals using real ingredients—one need never even buy a specialty ingredient. (I’ve already cut and pasted your confetti salad into a Word file.) I am thrilled you love my blog! Thanks so very much, Shirley

  9. Polly on January 26th, 2009 10:02 pm

    Wow…I have never craved a salad before…the missing ingredients are being added to my grocery list as I type! I can’t wait to try this.

  10. Shirley on January 26th, 2009 10:33 pm

    Polly–Just a note … if you are opting for the Briannas poppy seed vs homemade, it’s usually in the “gourmet” dressing section of the grocery store and our local stores tend to run out of it quickly on the shelf, although they usually have more in the back … so be sure to ask if you don’t see it. I think it will live up to your expectations. Let us know!


  11. H.Peter on January 27th, 2009 8:12 am

    Food cultures are very different from country to country. Salad was a staple in Europe growing up, summer and winter.
    When I came to North America, I was surprised to experience american’s fascination with dressings more so than with the actual salads….
    Way ahead of Europe. Way ahead.

    Now, I do like my vinaigrette from back home, but when i read thigns like Poppy seeds, Cranberries, etc, it is so much more exciting to eat salad than just oil & vinegar.

  12. Matt on January 27th, 2009 10:36 am

    Oh how I miss cabbage (I’m in the process of figuring out IBS/IBD).

    I’m excited to see more people encouraging gluten-free diets to consist of whole foods rather than processed foods. I went gluten free for a few weeks since I thought I had celiac (tests came back negative).

    I actually work with kids and food and I’ve had great experiences with making dressing with kids as well. It seems to win them over since dressing tends to come in bottles in the U.S.

  13. Shirley on January 27th, 2009 11:07 am

    Matt–Welcome to GFE! Thanks so much for sharing your experiences. Please allow me to share more of my own (and others) with you.

    Before I went gluten free, I could not eat ANY salads or salad greens without dire consequences. My digestive system was just so screwed up. I, too, had been told that I had IBS. My doctor, one who had been diagnosed with celiac herself (many years earlier by the gold standard blood test and biopsy), purposely directed me to testing other than traditional celiac testing. She had seen so many people who would not test positive on traditional celiac testing, but who had serious gluten issues. In some cases, folks were in an invalid state, but would not test positive for celiac. Yet, after going GF, they slowly got their health and lives back. I know individuals personally who have gone this route. The transformations are amazing. This topic is one I could go on and on about, but I highly recommend that folks get tested for gluten sensitivity even if they’ve had a negative celiac test.

    First, I bet you got some score on your celiac blood testing. Why does one have a score at all if one doesn’t have an issue with gluten? In other words, why do we have gluten antibodies if we have no issues with gluten? Food for thought, huh?

    Second, in a study done by Dr. Peter Green (one of the medical experts on celiac, who established and lead the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University) et al, 30% of biopsy-proven celiacs did not test positive on the blood test. Their symptoms were such that a biopsy was done despite the negative blood test and the biopsy showed celiac. I know someone who fit into this category. Her doctor was convinced she had celiac despite the negative blood test and her endoscopy/biopsy confirmed it.

    Also, more people are being diagnosed by pill cams because they go where the endoscopy (scope) can’t to show damamge.

    Last, even Dr. Alessio Fasano (another expert on celiac who heads the U of MD Celiac Center) is now saying that gluten damage is on a “continuum” and it’s not as black and white as a positive or negative celiac test. He says if people feel better on a GF diet, they should do it! I don’t know that you were GF long enough to see positive results (and often initially we are still getting gluten because of lack of knowledge). I sincerely urge you to pursue additional testing and/or a GF diet to see if that could well be the answer for you. I’ll email you with further info if you are interested.

    On a lighter note, working with kids and food sounds great, but challenging (former teacher here LOL)! There does seem to be something about those bottles with their labels … marketing does work.


  14. Shirley on January 27th, 2009 11:16 am

    H. Peter–It’s always so interesting to hear from other cultures as to what the norm is—thank your for commenting! Remember that Europeans in general are far healthier than the majority of the folks in the U.S. So, this post is not a wholesale endorsement of salad dressings. (Some salad dressings are used to totally obliterate the flavor of the green stuff! LOL, but true!) However, it is an endorsement of adding a multitude of flavors and textures to your salad. Next time I make this salad, I will definitely try the homemade poppy seed dressing because I will know exactly what is (and what isn’t) in it and as Therese shared you just put the ingredients in a jar, shake, and refrigerate … what could be easier than that? :-) Shirley

  15. Matt on January 27th, 2009 2:35 pm


    That is interesting about the biopsy and blood tests for gluten. I have heard similar cases from doctors- that you can only detect celiac if it is truly developed to the point that it is damaging.

    I’m definitely interested in getting tested for gluten sensitivity, and I wouldn’t be surprised if two weeks is not long enough to test the effects of going GF. I was convinced that my issue was gluten before the doctors told me otherwise with the biopsy results (and the fact that two weeks of being GF didn’t do much for me).

    As for working with kids, I find that it’s easiest to get kids away from the overwhelming power of marketing if they have control of the work. Kids need to feel a sense of power, belonging, purpose, mastery, and of course fun. Alice Waters created a great model for youth gardening with the Edible Schoolyard in California.

    Thanks for all the help. It is truly great to have a community to discuss this with. I’ll keep you updated.


  16. Shirley on January 27th, 2009 4:02 pm

    Matt–Thanks so much for replying. I do hope you will be able to get tested soon for gluten sensitivity. I look forward to hearing from you at GFE again on this topic.

    That really makes so much sense about kids who are in control being empowered enough to resist marketing. I had heard of Alice Waters, but just read about her work again. I love her approach; obviously, it works! And, thank you for working with kids and food—valuable work indeed.

    Last, best of luck with your brand spanking new blog, irrEATable, at http://irreatable.blogspot.com/! I will be following it to hear what you and your readers learn/share about eating properly for the best digestion.


  17. Kay on January 27th, 2009 7:42 pm

    Hi Shirley,
    Oh how I miss cabbage!!! It’s one of my many “collateral allergies.” I had a similiar salad several years ago with broccoli in place of the cabbage mix. I still make it at work for the sorority girls with sunflower seeds and a homemade creamy dressing.

  18. Shirley on January 28th, 2009 8:57 pm

    Kay–Ouch, I call that collateral damage. You know there’s that whole theory (celiac and gluten aside) that we become intolerant to what we eat all the time … the idea that we need to be on a rotation diet for our foods. Our ancestors were naturally on a rotation diet due to foods being seasonal whereas we can eat the same foods all year long (they may be shipped from far away, but we can still get them). Anyway, your version of the salad sounds terrific. How lucky those sorority girls are!


  19. therese on January 29th, 2009 7:06 pm

    We had a version of Kathi’s salad tonight and it was delicious! made up some poppyseed dressing this afternoon. I didn’t have craisins so used clementines instead. Used spinach and romaine, a bit of diced onion, almonds, slaw mix and added added warm sliced chicken breast. Served it with hot baked potatoes w/ butter and everyone was happy.

    Thank you for sharing this easy and delicious recipe. We all enjoyed it and our teenager went back for more! Now that makes a cook feel good!

  20. Shirley on January 29th, 2009 8:32 pm

    Oh my goodness, Therese, that meal sounds perfect! Of course, everyone was happy. :-) You are so right about feeling good when the teenager goes back for more … heck, with a salad, that is huge! I think it’s that poppyseed dressing … it just adds something special to the fruit and salad greens.


  21. Diane-thewholegang on June 26th, 2009 8:18 pm

    Wow, what a story. So cool that you are trying new food. I too didn’t eat many different things. I still have the habit of eating one thing at a time if there are more than one the plate. Thank you for sharing this on Friday Foodie Fix.

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2009 11:05 pm

      Hi, Diane-We definitely have had similar food paths. My husband and I were talking about our opposing eating patterns the other day. He eats one thing at a time and I tend to go round my plate, eating little bites of everything until I am done. I just like experiencing different flavors together. I wonder how we develop that pattern. Glad to contribute to the Friday Foodie Fix! Thanks for commenting and just think of all the foods we still have to look forward to!


  22. Amy Green on June 26th, 2009 10:28 pm

    This salad looks great! My sister was recently in town and she made a spinach salad similar to this but used blueberries, parm, and almonds. I like your suggestion about giving this to those who wouldn’t normally eat a salad – I have found that good food, gluten-free or not, will convert even the pickiest eaters.

    • Shirley on June 26th, 2009 11:08 pm

      Hi, Amy–Welcome to gfe! Oh, my goodness, your sister’s spinach salad sounds beautiful and tasty! You are right, of course, good food will convert. I think real food is the key and how wonderful that those of who try to eat gluten free naturally are focusing on real food, full of flavor and health. :-)

      Thanks so much for your positive feedback and just for stopping by!

      • Amy Green on June 27th, 2009 6:07 pm

        I couldn’t agree more. I feel best when my diet is composed mostly of fresh food I feel best. And a loud YES to focusing on good, healthy food. (I just like mine to not taste like health food.)

        • Shirley on June 28th, 2009 9:00 pm

          Amy– :-)

          Just saw your latest post … must go check that out—that’s definitely good healthy food that doesn’t fit the usual health food profile!


          • Amy Green @ Simply Sugar & Gluten-Free on October 5th, 2009 10:29 pm

            I’ve only commented on this a few times – I do love this dish! And I wanted to thank you for being so gracious and sharing my blog with your readers. You’re the best. Big hugs!

          • Shirley on October 5th, 2009 10:52 pm

            Amy–Too funny! Guess I’ve shared it quite a bit. I want to show everyone they can show up with a few boxes/bags and a bottle and make an awesome salad. ;-)

            I’m always happy to share great blogs like yours! :-) You’re very welcome … I think you’ve shared my info many times already with your readers and others out on the web.


  23. Diane-The WHOLE Gang on November 11th, 2009 12:00 pm

    This actually makes me hungry for salad. Not something that happens very often. Thank you for sharing it on Friday Foodie Fix.

  24. GreenJello on January 5th, 2010 10:40 am

    I’ve been experimenting, trying to create a copycat of Brianna’s Poppy Seed Dressing. I’ve come close enough for my tastes:


    I’ve made this with olive oil instead of canola (you will want to add more water in to thin it out a bit more, though…gets pretty thick in the fridge with olive oil.) I also personally use agave instead of sugar for the sweetener. Yum!

    • Shirley on January 5th, 2010 9:42 pm

      Hey GreenJello–Welcome to gfe! In the interest of full disclosure, I probably should tell you that I have an aversion to Jello … of any color. So I was happy to see that your blog wasn’t actually called Green Jello Land, like your URL. LOL But, I do love the poppy seed dressing and your recipe looks easy and fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing it. I’ll definitely use olive oil (I don’t use canola oil usually even though it is in the Brianna’s poppy seed dressing), so thanks for the tip on thinning it with a little water. I’ll be happy to use agave or honey as my sweetener, too. :-)

      Thanks so much, GJ!


  25. Johnna on June 22nd, 2012 3:26 pm

    Thank you so much for introducing me to this wonderful salad! We had it for dinner last night, over pasta and topped with grilled tofu. It’s delicious! I was excited to find the dressing at Target for about $3. This one is going to become an addition to our weekly menu during the Summer!

    • Shirley on January 6th, 2014 6:57 pm

      Wowzer, Johnna! I can’t believe I never replied to this comment when you first left it. Boo. :-( I love the idea of having this salad over pasta. :-) And woohoo on getting this dressing for about $3. That’s a deal! I’ve used homemade poppy seed dressing and also a sweet Vidalia onion dressing, which I think is similar in flavor. My support group fusses if I don’t make this salad for our meetings. ;-)

      Happy New Year, dear!

  26. Beverly Stevens on January 4th, 2014 1:31 pm

    Hi Shirley!

    This really is a Great Salad! Its a great, quick, go-to for me for potlucks. I’m always amazed, every single time people rave about it and ask for the recipe. Really, I have to give a way my secret?! Of course, I do! Its almost embarrasing…lol…open, dump, mix…that easy!

    I’m flexible with the lettuce, based on availability at the store. I’ve subbed pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds based on my pantry. And and if I’m eating it as a meal, I add kidney beans.

    I’m so glad you shared this recipe at the veg group last year! Thank you!

    Happy 2014!

    • Shirley on January 6th, 2014 6:52 pm

      Hi Beverly–Thanks so much for sharing this fabulous review. Too funny that you don’t want to share your “secret” with others, but I do understand. Hehe. Like you, I sort of go with the flow and use what I have on hand. Different nuts/seeds. Different lettuces. Add in cucumbers, carrots, etc. As long as one has some of the cole slaw mix (or shredded cabbage), a mixture of salad greens, and the poppy seed dressing (or one that’s similar–sweet Vidalia onion dressing is good, too) at a minimum, one is good to go!! :-)

      I still haven’t gotten my “50 Gluten-Free Vegan Foods You Can Eat Today” list done—my “plan” after presenting at the meeting—but one day I hope it will happen. ;-) I’m so glad this has become a mainstay recipe for you!

      Thanks for the New Year wishes! Happy New Year to you, too!

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