Gingery Cabbage Slaw with Spicy Lime Dressing

Gingery Cabbage Slaw with Spicy Lime Dressing from Eat Your Greens

The thing that nobody tells you is that birthdays after the age of 30 are nothing like birthdays before the age of 30.

I’ve tried to write a sentence after that without sounding completely sad and pathetic, but failed. It’s going to sound sad and pathetic to anyone under the age of 30, the way birthdays turn into a total non-event. Weddings and baby showers? Sure! Those are events to celebrate. My birth? I guess that’s a thing that happened…34 years ago.

God. Is it too sad to handle? Can I go on?

Gingery Cabbage Slaw with Spicy Lime Dressing from Eat Your Greens

I’ve kept a low profile the last couple birthdays and this year was no different. Being over 30, I spend a depressing proportion of my life indoors — I mean, let’s just get it all out there, people — so I decided I wanted to have a birthday picnic at the Silver Lake Meadow, basically a giant grassy lawn next to the reservoir in my neighborhood, a place for apartment-dwellers like me to enjoy the sun and surreptitiously sip wine poured into opaque cups.

Gingery Cabbage Slaw with Spicy Lime Dressing from Eat Your Greens

And picnics demand picnic food, so I made a gingery cabbage salad. It’s a sort of no-mayo, Asian-y coleslaw and I think it would be just the right thing to bring to a potluck or BBQ this Fourth of July. It’s super-gingery, a little spicy (or a lot spicy, depending on how much chili paste you add), totally refreshing and it can be made up to a day before the party.

Gingery Cabbage Slaw with Spicy Lime Dressing from Eat Your Greens

I also made soy sauce eggs, a blueberry-lemon cake and a raspberry-lemon cake. (The blueberry and raspberry cake were the same batter, just with different berries on top. I’m not crazy enough to make two cakes for my own birthday. What am I doing, turning 24?) My smart and lovely friends brought quinoa salad, a cheese platter, bean and avocado dip, the best pastries and a giant container of mango cubes (my favorite!).

Gingery Cabbage Slaw with Spicy Lime Dressing from Eat Your Greens

There was rosé and beer and a big pitcher of Aperol Spritz. Some of us played bocce ball. The rest of us watched a man doing handstands try to hit on a woman doing yoga. (He failed.) The sun finally sank behind the trees. We packed up the blankets and promised to do it again soon, because there’s something so perfect about friends and a giant lawn and a summer Sunday. “Thanks, Anjali!” one of my friends called out as we left. “For being…born?”

So okay. Birthdays after the age of 30 are nothing like birthdays before the age of 30. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still be great.

Gingery Cabbage Slaw with Spicy Lime Dressing from Eat Your Greens

Gingery Cabbage Slaw with Spicy Lime Dressing

Yield: 4 servings

{ Ingredients }

1 pound green cabbage (about 1/2 small head)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger, grated
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon - 1 tablespoon chili paste (like sambal oelek), depending on spice preference
1 tablespoon grapeseed or other flavorless oil
3 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped

{ Directions }

Cut the cabbage into quarters and cut out and discard the core. Thinly slice cabbage with a mandoline or a sharp knife. Place in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with the salt. Lightly rub and toss the cabbage to evenly disperse the salt and let sit for about 30 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the ginger, lime juice, soy sauce or tamari, chili paste and oil. Pour the dressing over the cabbage and mix. Sprinkle in the cilantro and the peanuts. Toss to combine.

• I find that salting the cabbage beforehand results in a crisper and more flavorful slaw that holds up better in the fridge.

• This slaw can be made up to 1 day ahead. If you will be serving it more than 2 hours after making it, mix in the peanuts just before serving. They'll be crunchier that way. (Although there is something strangely good about a soft peanut. Or am I crazy?)



  1. #
    Debbie — July 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    You should try this with a mango-ey flavor! There’s a spicy drink called Prometheus Springs, and it’s awesome in sauces 🙂 I’m looking forward to it!

  2. #
    Jess — July 3, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    So very very true Anjali – there’s a definite shift after 30. I like my birthdays to slide happily and quietly past, not because I mind getting older, but just because I don’t ever feel like I need a big fuss these days. Your birthday celebration looks absolutely perfect. Happy happy birthday!

  3. #
    BJ — July 28, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Not true for me! I’m about to reach the 50th Birthday and look forward to celebrating it big, just as I have all the other adult birthdays in my life. As a child, my parents never celebrated birthdays. After marrying my love, he has made sure to make a big deal out of my birthdays.

  4. #
    IP guy — October 8, 2013 at 7:54 am

    And what a lovely 34 year old! I like to think my post-30 birthdays can be equally as exciting as my pre-30s, and even pre-20s! Maybe I can have pillow fights and party bags for my next birthday or something 🙂

  5. #
    JH — January 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    Came across your recipe on pinterest – and tried it tonight. As someone who loves creamy cabbage slaw but has tried so long to find an alternative – I need look no further! Loved the little kick of spice, and all the different flavours were perfect. Thank you for sharing it with us!

  6. #
    Karen — May 9, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I just have to let you know, I’m making this salad for like, the 50th time. It’s my very favorite…cannot stop myself!!

    • Anjali — May 17th, 2015 at 9:42 am

      Thanks so much, Karen!

  7. #
    Lisa — July 10, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    This is my go-to summer salad and it always disappears fast! I make some tiny adjustments- I use sesame oil instead of grape seed, and I toast pumpkin seeds in place of the peanuts. Always a huge hit! Thank you!

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