My neighbour Giovanna Trompetta told me that her Christmas lunch with her daughter and her family was vincisgrassi, a special lasagne made with chicken giblets that is typical of Le Marche, followed by fried veal and insalata russa, Russian salad. It reminded me that decent homemade coleslaw is a welcome salad to have in the fridge at this time of year. As with Russian salad, though, bought versions are invariably grim.
The first thing to get right is the mayonnaise. Hellman’s is great, but not your best option in this instance: make some, it’s very easy. I like to use a mixture of flavourless oil like sunflower with olive oil as the latter is too powerful on it’s own.
The other thing is to try and slice the vegetables as finely as possible. If you have a mandolin, your task will be much easier. Vegetables can vary; I am not a fan of raw onion as I think its flavour is too dominant, so I blanch it. The pomegranate seeds add colour and zing, as well as more crunch.
For the mayonnaise:
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Dijon or English mustard
2 free range egg yolks, room temperature
300 ml sunflower oil
200 ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon, or 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar (or other mild vinegar – definitely not malt or balsamic)
Crush the garlic in the salt to make a paste. Place this in a bowl with the mustard and the egg yolks and mix well. Use a balloon whisk (electric or manual – l like to make it by hand) and beat with one hand, while you pour a few drops of sunflower at a time with the other. As the emulsion forms, you can start to pour in larger quantities at a time. Make sure you have beaten in all the oil before adding more. It will start to get thick and glossy. Adding the lemon juice will loosen the mixture, so you can do this when you switch to adding the olive oil.
For the slaw:
1/2 white cabbage, finely sliced
2 fennel bulbs, sliced finely
1 celery heart, leaves included, finely sliced
1 large carrot, finely sliced
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 mild green chilli (optional), seeds removed, finely sliced
3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh fennel or other leafy herb
Blanch the onion slices in boiling water for one minute. Drain, rinse in cold water then pat dry with a paper towel. Mix the vegetables together, followed by the pomegranate seeds and herbs. Lastly fold through enough mayonnaise to coat everything, but not drown it. You may have some left over – use it for other things.
This salad will keep for several days in the fridge. Enough for 6 people as a side dish.