Mary’s No-mayo Nutty Coleslaw with Crunchy Ramen and Sunflower Seeds
I’m about to blow your mind: Coleslaw doesn’t need mayo. That’s right, this is a mayo-free coleslaw recipe. And while my Nutty Coleslaw Salad recipe might be a change of pace, it’s not lacking in any of the delicious flavors you crave.
Let’s take a look at cabbage salads (aka coleslaws) around the world.
Fresh cabbage salads are one of the most popular and persistent foods in the Western world: Europeans and Americans have been eating variations on coleslaw for hundreds of years. From fresh sunflower oil dressing in Russia to fermented sauerkraut in Germany, we know there are tons of ways to make cabbage taste great. My Nutty Coleslaw Salad is savory, crunchy, and dressed with oil and vinegar for a lighter dish that you can eat even more of (and trust me, you’ll want to).
Bonus: this no-mayo coleslaw recipe is also a great go-to for a lunch, snack, or summer entertaining!
Seriously, this no-mayo coleslaw is one of my favorite summer recipes. I make it all the time—sometimes all by itself. I like to pack it in my lunch, eat it for a snack, and bring it to parties. It’s a fresh cabbage coleslaw that’s a little more exciting than your run-of-the-mill salad. Because of its balanced sweet and savory flavor, this summer coleslaw recipe is also great for kids. Everyone loves the crunch!
What makes this the best no-mayo coleslaw recipe? It’s all about the cabbage, the crunchy stuff, and the dressing.
The two best things about this recipe are the mild sweetness of the dressing and how dang crunchy it is. Toasted nuts and seeds—alongside pan-fried ramen noodles (you heard me right)—make this coleslaw crispy and crunchy, unlike anything you’ve ever had before.
Almonds: These popular tree nuts have a light, earthy flavor with a well-rounded subtle sweetness. They’re full of healthy fats, rich in vitamin E, and their texture is soooo satisfying.
Sunflower seeds: With a deeper, nuttier flavor (especially when toasted) than almonds, sunflower seeds make this coleslaw more complex. Rich in B vitamins, minerals, and a slew of other nutrients, they also make it healthier!
Scallions: I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually put a lot of raw onions in my salad. Maybe a thinly sliced red one here or there. Scallions are a great way to add a gentle, peppery onion note to the dish without overwhelming any of the other flavors.
Red wine vinegar: Red wine vinegar is tangy, of course, but it has a lot to offer in terms of flavor. Vibrant and clean with subtle notes of smokiness and fruit (it is made from red wine, after all), this ingredient is enhanced and complemented with good ol’ sugar to make a perfectly balanced dressing.
Ramen noodles in a coleslaw?! Oh, yeah. These guys are the star of the show. Whatever you do, don’t boil them! You’re gonna take the block of noodles, crunch it up, and fry them in a skillet with butter. YUM. The result is a super-crunchy topping that adds a rich, toasty flavor to the salad. This just can’t be duplicated. They are SO GOOD.
Tips on how to make the Perfect Coleslaw
Start by choosing a good, fresh green cabbage. It should be firm to the touch and feel dense when you pick it up. Fresh cabbage has crisp, brightly colored leaves. The easiest way to prep the cabbage for coleslaw is to use a food processor with a shredding attachment. If you’re in a pinch, you can buy pre-shredded cabbage, but making it at home is so worth it! A two-pound cabbage will yield 8-9 cups shredded.
For the ramen noodles, I just grab a packet of flavored ramen noodles (like Maruchan). When you open it up, remember—you don’t need the flavor packet. We’re only going to use the noodles! According to this article from Tasting Table, you can do plenty of different things with that ramen spice packet, too.
Don’t put on the dressing until just before serving. I actually like to make the dressing a day in advance so all I have to do is shred the cabbage, visit with my company, and focus on the fish or the barbeque grill. Don’t be discouraged—all of this is super quick and easy to make, and everyone will love it!
What’s the best food to serve with this nutty coleslaw?
Usually, I’m all for playing around with recipes and experimenting in the kitchen. Empanadas go great with a huge array of different fillings, for example. But some recipes are perfect exactly the way they are written—like my Auntie Norma’s Chicken salad… and this one. I love this recipe so much that I NEVER vary it, not even a little bit. I even keep extra copies laying around when I make it because someone always asks. It’s that good. Of course, you can’t go wrong with summer entertaining recipes (like my Beef Empanadas or Skirt Steak with Chimichurri, Beer Battered Fish, roast beef sliders, chicken tinga… I could go on and on). In fact, you can hop over to this article where I give you a list of my best fish fry recipes where you’ll find beer battered fish, buttermilk hush puppies, and summer salads like spicy watermelon and feta recipes, and a few of my best desserts for summer.