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Mon, 7 March, 2016

Tom Kerridge's healthy version of coleslaw: no mayo, lovely seasoning, yoghurt dressing and a variety of lightly fermented vegetables. No more roughly shredded cabbage slathered in gloopy mayo!

healthy coleslaw

Where does the name come from?

Coleslaw is a cabbage salad with its name derived from Dutch: ‘kool’ – cabbage and ‘sla’ – salad. It goes back to 18th century and the dressing was originally melted butter, vinegar and spices. It sounds like a nice salad - which has sadly deteriorated to - usually - mayonnaise drowned soggy strips of cabbage.

Not very nutritious!

Slaw is these days your feeble attempt at one (or a quarter) of the five-a-day when going for fish and chips. It's a tub that we grab from the supermarket shelf in a desperate attempt to balance the packets of crisps already in the basket. In that shape it's actually possibly detrimental to our health!

coleslaw with yoghurt dressing

If you compare it to good old fashioned German or Polish Krautsalad, a salad made from fermented cabbage dressed only with oil, if at all, nutritional inferiority of slaw is blatantly obvious. Fermented vegetables are wonderful for our gut and lots of mayo isn't - it's simple as that.

tom kerridge's coleslaw

Can coleslaw be healthy?

But not all is lost - first off, if you make your coleslaw at home, you're already halfway to a winner. No added sugar, excessive salt and those weird chemicals that let the slaw sit on the supermarket shelf for days.

coleslaw with fennel and radish

No mayo, that’s a start. And if mayo you must, give it just a lick of it. Fermentation is crucial - as above, fermented foods rule the nutrition world so take time, all of 10 minutes of it, and leave your cabbage salted until it wilts a bit and becomes, frankly, much more appetising - especially if you’re using a hammer head cabbage*.

What's a healthy dressing for slaw?

Vinaigrette dressing would suffice on the shredded veg but as a concession to the chippie-goers I am adding some white stuff. And yoghurt actually tastes and goes better with it than mayo.

healthy cabbage and fennel slaw

The recipe, with slight modi- and simplifications is that of Tom Kerridge, from his ‘Best Ever Recipes’ book.

*standard winter white cabbage, as apparently known in Yorkshire. No, me neither. Blame the Weather Man, he’s from up there.


Servings: 4Time: 50 minutes


  • ½ fennel bulb
  • ½ small green or white cabbage
  • ¼ small red cabbage (optional)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 small onion
  • a few radishes
  • 2 tbsp. sea salt 
  • zest grated of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp mixed fennel and caraway seeds, toasted in a dry skillet and coarsely ground in a pestle and mortar
  • 1 tsp chopped dill
  • 1 tsp chopped parsley
  • black pepper
  • lemon juice
  • 2-3 tbsp. natural full-fat yoghurt
  • a drizzle of honey


1. Finely shred the cabbages and fennel, using a mandolin or a sharp knife. Coarsely grate or julienne the carrot, slice the onion and radishes very finely.

vegetables for slaw

2. Place everything in a large bowl, add the sea salt and mix in well – best rub the salt in with your hands. Leave for 20 minutes – it will wilt and soften.

shredded veg

3. Transfer the vegetables into a colander or a large sieve and rinse very well under cold running water, then leave them to drain. Spread them on at least a double layer of paper towels on a board or work surface and squeeze out the moisture.

how to make the best coleslaw

4. Transfer to a clean bowl, add the lemon zest, the fennel and caraway seeds, herbs and season with black pepper and a drizzle of lemon juice.

5. Stir in the yoghurt and honey and check for seasoning.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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