Dinner, Sides

Side Salads: Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing & Apple, Fennel, & Celery Slaw

We recently had a dinner party in our new home. Though it was not the first round of guests we have hosted, it was the first time we had more than one person at a time. You can imagine my mind was hard at work creating a menu for six that would be simple to put together. I love to host people for parties. Remember the summer party where everyone could grill up their own pizza? Or the winter bourbon bash? Such fun!
Winter in WilliamstownWe are in the middle of winter and the weather has been positively wild. Snow storms that send us snowshoeing in 17* weather, quickly turns toward 40 degree days with the sun shining makes me feel like there is hope…spring will come soon! My menu leaned towards a taste of summer in the midst of the sleet, freezing rain and ice outside the front door. I am going to split this menu into two posts. Today I will share the salad sides and the next post will be the main star – pulled pork! Come on…let’s go! Cabbage for ColeslawColeslaw. If you, like me, are so tired of gloppy, gooey, mayonnaise laden coleslaw then this recipe is for YOU! I turned to Smitten Kitchen and her recipe for buttermilk dressing. I had buttermilk on hand and the simplicity of this dressing had me sold!
Minced shallots, some sugar, buttermilk, some mayonnaise, a little greek yogurt, a shake of celery salt, and pepper was how I ended up at this. I was all ready to buy a sack of pre-cut slaw ingredients but Sweet Z scowled when I told him this. I was going for ease and simplicity remember? But then, I remembered my new food processor with the shredder/ grater blades. Done and DONE!

This buttermilk based dressing is a game changer for me. It was tangy but with a hint of sweetness which lends itself nicely to crunchy cabbages and carrots. I shot the picture below the next day and am happy to report that the cabbage is still crunchy and still super tasty!
Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing

Coleslaw with Buttermilk Dressing


  • For the coleslaw mixture:
  • 1/2 green cabbage, core removed and shredded (I used savoy)
  • 1/2 red cabbage, core removed and shredded
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated
  • For the buttermilk dressing
  • Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen
  • 1/2 Cup buttermilk
  • 2 Tablespoons of shallot, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise (Note: I used a touch more)
  • 2 Tablespoons plain greek yogurt
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • Shake of celery salt
  • Few cracks of black pepper


  1. Update, 2/23/14: I had leftover cabbage slaw and dressing and was able to dress about 3/4 of this salad with the final dressing amounts. However, this dressing (swoon worthy!) will become a staple for us around our home!
  2. Prepare the cabbage ingredients. Halve the cabbages, remove the tough core, and thinly slice (or use the food processor slicing blade!) the cabbage. Peel and grate the carrots, using a box grater (or the shredder attachment on the food processor blade!).
  3. For the dressing: In a small bowl whisk together the shallots, sugar, buttermilk, cider vinegar, mayonnaise, yogurt, celery salt and freshly cracked pepper.
  4. Note: I was worried about he consistency of this dressing which is why I added a touch more mayonnaise and greek yogurt to the original recipe. Next time however, I will skip the extra 2 Tablespoons of mayo and keep in the extra 2 Tablespoon of yogurt.
  5. If you are making this ahead like I did: Store the slaw mixture and dressing separate from each other until ready to combine.
  6. Add the dressing to the slaw ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine, at least an hour before serving. My ratio this time around was 3/4 cup of dressing to roughly 5 cups of shredded coleslaw mixture.
  7. Stir well before serving, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added a touch of salt and pepper to my dish before serving.

The second salad dish was an apple, fennel & celery slaw. I was inspired by the flavor combinations of apple and fennel after I had tasted a fantastic salad at the King Arthur Flour cafe. I thought I had jotted down the flavors I was tasting but I cannot find that note anywhere. Now I have a good excuse to drive up to King Arthur, re-stock my baking supplies and grab a salad to go!

I made the dressing in the morning and stashed it in the fridge until I was ready to chop apples, fennel and celery. I DID chop this myself – chop therapy = the best therapy!
ApplesI prepped the fennel first. After removing the hard outer layers, I was left with a seemingly smaller amount of fennel than I was expecting. Tricked!
Apples, fennel, and celeryThe dressing was added about 4 hours before serving to marry up all the flavors. It was a very good salad with a sweet apple crunch, slight liquorice flavor from the fennel with bits of celery mixed with the tangy vinaigrette dressing.
Apple, Fennel & Celery Slaw

Apple, Fennel, & Celery Slaw


  • Recipe slightly adapted from My Recipes
  • For the salad:
  • Small bulb of fennel, tough outer layers removed, sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 gala apple, julienned
  • 1 granny smith apple, julienned
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • Fennel fronds, diced up
  • Celery leaves, chopped up
  • For the dressing: (you will have leftovers)
  • 1 Tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon molasses
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil


  1. Note: this recipe should be combined about 4 hours before serving to let the flavors mix and be merry. Also, I did not use all of the vinaigrette dressing.
  2. For the dressing: In a small bowl whisk together the cider vinegar, molasses, mustard, salt and pepper until combined.
  3. Stream in the olive oil slowly, while still whisking, and you will see the dressing thicken up and emulsify! You are on the right track (and oh-so-fancy!)
  4. The dressing can be made and stored until ready to use. Just give it another good whisk for good measure.
  5. For the salad: Prepare the fennel - remove the tough outer layers, then slice the inner parts. I did not use much of the core. I wanted a hint of liquorice.
  6. Wash the apples well, and julienned into bite sized pieces.
  7. Wash the celery stalk and dice it up into bite sized pieces.
  8. Dice up some fennel fronds and celery leaves for garnish and extra pizzazz.
  9. In a medium bowl mix together the fennel, apples and celery. Add the vinaigrette dressing (I used about half) and toss to combine. Sprinkle the top with reserved fennel fronds and celery leaves.
  10. Mix well before serving and adjust seasonings as needed. I did not feel the need to adjust a thing!
  11. This salad is best served on the day it is made. The apples loose their crispy bite the longer they sit.

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