Red cabbage coleslaw with sesame dressing and mixed seeds

Sometimes simple is best. Whenever I tend to forget this premise in my cooking, there’s this delicious red cabbage coleslaw to remind me.


Recently, this coleslaw became one of my go-to lunches and every time I eat it, I instantly feel happy and energetic. It’s a simple toss-everything-together-and-enjoy-straight-away dish, using just a few ingredients and about 60 seconds to prepare. Yet it’s so packed with flavour and different textures you’ll want to finish this bowl in one go and lick it afterwards.


Classic coleslaw  is either dressed in a creamy mustard and mayonaise mixture or in a vinaigrette. Personally I have always favoured the freshness of the latter. For this version, I used vibrant red cabbage and dressed it in a nutty, sweet and sour mixture of rice vinegar and sesame oil, which makes it light and punchy. A handful of raisins for sweetness, a few spoonfuls of pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds for extra crunch and nuttiness, a final sprinkling of nigella seeds for their warm and herby flavour and you’re good to go.


The quantities below make a big salad lunch bowl for 1 (or 2, if you’re more moderate than I am and combine it with bread). This coleslaw also makes a delicious side to go with burgers or other savoury dishes. And then of course barbecues! This weekend temperatures peeked over 15°C here in The Netherlands and some of my optimistic neighbours immediately lit up their barbecues for this spring’s first dinner outside. This salad makes the perfect barbecue side dish and if you plan on sharing it, I’d advise you to make a double batch immediately. Yet before barbecue season truly hits off, it’s perfectly acceptable to keep this one all to yourself and munch on it indoors or out.


Red cabbage coleslaw with sesame dressing and mixed seeds – serves 1 as a big lunch salad, or 3 as a side dish


  • 300 g red cabbage, shredded or finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp. yellow raisins
  • 2 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tbsp. white or black sesame seeds, or a mixture of both
  • ½ tsp. nigella seeds (optional)


For this salad I usually take the quick and easy road and tip in the seeds as they come straight from their jars. If you like, you can toast them first: 4-5 minutes in a moderately hot oven (180°C/350°F/Gas 4) will bring out all their crunch and flavour; let them cool before stirring them in.



Put the chopped cabbage into a large bowl. Stir in the rice vinegar and sesame oil and watch the cabbage turn vibrantly red-purple. I don’t add salt to this salad, but if you prefer, do add some according to your own taste.

Mix in the raisins and pepitas. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and nigella seeds.

Enjoy straight away as a crisp lunch or a side, or leave to pickle a bit longer, for the cabbage to soften.