Coleslaw, Tangy Dressing; memories

This is my favorite cabbage salad.  It’s light, crisp, crunchy and keeps well so I can make a big batch and enjoy it for a few days (if I hide some of it in the back of the fridge).

I posted this a few years ago – but, it’s summer, the temperatures are rising and we can all use more salads.

For those of you not familiar with U.S. measurements: for a recipe like this or, in fact, most savory recipes (as opposed to baked goods) precision is not always important. In this case a ‘cup of cabbage’ could be measured, roughly, in your favorite coffee mug.

There is a story that goes with this recipe…..

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Coleslaw, Tangy Dressing

You could add shredded carrots to this, and use any color pepper you like.
It can be made ahead, keeps well and is better suited to picnics than the more traditional creamy coleslaw. 

  • Author: Katie
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Salad


  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 red or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced, then cut into into 1/2″ (1cm) pieces
  • Dressing:
  • 8 tbs olive oil
  • 8 tbs sugar
  • 3 1/2 tbs cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 tsp celery seed


  • Put all of the ingredients for the dressing in a medium – large bowl. 
  • Using as large a whisk as you have (and is reasonable), vigorously whisk ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved and the dressing is very thick and clear.  
  • It takes a bit of work, but once together properly it won’t ‘break’.
  • Put cabbage and pepper into a large bowl.
  • Add half of the dressing and toss well to combine. 
  • Add more dressing according to taste.


This was a recipe for 8 quarts of dressing from a restaurant….. thus the odd measurements. You could make this using a stand mixer or hand mixer treating it like you would whipping cream. A blender won’t whip in enough air to properly emulsify. 


  • Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
  • Calories: 247
  • Sugar: 19.2 g
  • Sodium: 28.2 mg
  • Fat: 18.8 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.7 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21.1 g
  • Fiber: 1.8 g
  • Protein: 0.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
Tangy Coleslaw

When I was in high school, I worked at the local restaurant (it was a small town, there was only one).

My sister worked there, my 2 best friends worked there, my sister’s best friend worked there…. That covers the entire teenage female population of the town.

The owner made the best coleslaw. Everyone raved about it and everyone wanted the recipe.

As a teenager I didn’t particularly care but as a waitress I was constantly asked if I couldn’t get the recipe.

I couldn’t.

It was a secret.

She made the dressing in big batches, once a week and no one was allowed to watch too closely.

Time passes…. I left town. The owner sold the restaurant, retired and moved away, taking her coleslaw dressing with her.

Or so I thought.

After we kids were grown and gone, my mother had worked, a few mornings a week, at that same restaurant.

Turns out my mother managed to snag the recipe at some point.

Maybe she was entrusted with it when the owner was gone during the summer; maybe she
just watched and learned.

She didn’t remember.

She never made the dressing as the recipe makes 8 quarts.

I found it in her old box of recipes that now sits in my kitchen.

I reduced it… Slightly

8 thoughts on “Coleslaw, Tangy Dressing; memories”

  1. I might have to go back to making dressing. I’ve gotten terribly lazy in that department and now buy the Marzetti Original Slaw dressing. I used to make my own italian style dressing as well, and sometimes, I still do that, but not so often anymore. When you have a husband who has no taste and mixes whatever bottled dressings are in the fridge, together on his salad and calls it good…you get the idea. *sigh*

    • When we first moved here there were no bottled dressings – none. There are a few now, but I have gotten so used to making my own, as needed, I’ve never even been tempted to try one. When I have a salad for me for lunch, I just mix up a bit in the bottom of the bowl.

  2. That’s a cute story Katie! We have “small family” restaurants here in Ohio. The one in particular has an amazing Italian salad dressing, everyone has asked for it. It has to be the best kept or the only the secret in our town. Everyone is so tight lipped! Anyway, that’s great you have your secret recipe. Recipes are to be shared and enjoyed. We all know that ONE person who won’t share recipes or leaves out an ingredient ! It’s so frustrating, because everyone cooks differently, and it doesn’t taste the same as the original person has prepared it anyway!

    • There was one other person in this restaurant that was entrusted with the recipe. But it was their ‘signature’ dish. I’ve never eaten since it was sold so I have no idea if the dressing went with the restaurant or not.

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