Cabbage Salad in Orange-vinegar Dressing

Cabbage is associated with winter in Greece. “You can’t have tender, sweet cabbage before the winter cold,” a farmer in Kea told me one October morning. The trick to turn almost any cabbage into a good salad is to “knead” the finely shredded leaves with salt and lemon juice. Here, instead of lemon a combination of orange and white ‘balsamic’ vinegar is used. The cabbage and carrots wilt and shrink, becoming juicy and delicious. A dressing based on this ‘marinade’ is wonderful with all kinds of mixed greens salads (see variation). 


I first tasted the cabbage and carrot salad at Ourania’s Tavern, on Samos island, and was fascinated. Ourania, the owner and cook, told us that the longer you leave the salad in the fridge, the better it gets;  she was right, of course.

Adding fruity olive oil and maybe 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard her ‘marinade’ becomes my go-to vinaigrette for all kinds of seasonal, mixed salads. 



4 to 6 servings


4 – 5 cups finely shredded green cabbage (about 1/2 a medium cabbage) 


3 medium carrots, peeled, and shredded  


1/4 cup fresh orange juice 


1/4 cup white ‘balsamic’ vinegar 


About 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


1/2 teaspoon or more ground black pepper


3–4 small dill pickles (about 2 inches long), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced  (optional)


1/2 cup halved, and seeded red bell pepper, finely cut into thin strips


A small handful of fresh mint leaves


Fruity olive oil 



In a large bowl, combine the cabbage and carrots with the orange juice and vinegar, the salt and pepper. Rub, squeeze and toss the cabbage mixture with your hands until reduced in volume by about a half. 


(The salad can be prepared up to this point a few hours in advance, or even a few days, then covered and refrigerated.)


In the serving bowl, combine the cabbage, pickles, if you are using them, with the red pepper, and some coarsely shredded mint leaves. 


Drizzle liberally with fruity olive oil and taste to adjust the seasonings, adding more salt, pepper, vinegar or orange juice, if needed. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.



For a colorful, mixed salad use all or some of the following: any lettuce (romaine, frisée, iceberg), purslane (if available), maybe some diced cucumber, small tomatoes, chopped olives (green or black), along with sliced orange, and shredded radicchio for the bitterness we so much love, plus fragrant mint.

Dress it with the above described orange juice and vinegar, adding maybe 1-2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, of course, and plenty of fruity olive oil!









Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.