Red Cabbage and Dried Figs Salad Recipe

Salade de Chou Rouge aux Figues Séchées

[Red Cabbage and Dried Figs Salad]

If you look for recipes to use up a head of red cabbage before it applies for permanent residence in your vegetable drawer, you will find that the general agreement is “red cabbage shall be sublimated by fruit” : popular uses include braising it with apples or chestnuts, cooking it with pears, or pairing it with apricots or raisins in a salad.

Although the Cook’s Thesaurus dismisses it as tasting just like green cabbage and presenting the clear and present danger of bleeding onto the other ingredients, I still consider red cabbage my friend – like anything purple and pretty, really – and we’ll just agree to disagree on the taste thing, as I think it is distinctive and unlike that of green cabbage.

This fresh salad, in keeping with the fruit pairing idea, stars the aforementioned head of red cabbage (the volume of shredded cabbage a smallish head produces never ceases to astound me) and enhances its taste with little strips of dried figs for sweetness, toasted pumpkin seeds for nuttiness, soy sprouts for color contrast and crunch, and a lemon dressing for tang.

Salade de Chou Rouge aux Figues Séchées

– a small head of red cabbage
– 1 C soy sprouts
– 6 dried figs
– the zest of a lemon
– a large handful of pumpkin seeds, toasted

Dressing :
– the juice of a lemon
– 1 Tbsp olive oil
– 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
– salt, pepper

(Serves 6.)

Wash and quarter the cabbage. Cut out the tough core, and slice the leaves in thin strips – a food processor would come in handy. Rinse and drain the soy sprouts, chop the zest finely and slice the figs.

In a salad bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Add the cabbage, soy sprouts, pumkin seeds, lemon zest and figs, and toss to coat. Cover and reserve in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, if possible, before serving. Can be made up to a day ahead.

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  • Cláudia

    Hi!!A brazilian friend taught me to use mango with red cabbage! It’s very nice! And by the way…your site is perfect.

  • You have precisely captured my love affair with red cabbage! I don’t know where you live in Paris, but on rue Vavin (6eme) there is a tiny restaurant called Le Parc aux Cerfs that has (I trust it still does) a most fabulous starter called salade de deux choux. I still dream about this dish. But am looking forward to trying your recipe soon!

  • Wandering off-topic to congratulate you on the mention in Gourmet magazine as one of the best food blogs. Well done.

  • Patrick

    O Dear Beloved
    I don’t want to put you off your red cabbage… but your picture actually reminds me of the inside of a samurai after he’s committed sepuku. I hope this won’t put you off Maxence’s sushis either…

  • christoph

    Hi Clotilde,
    thanks for that nice salad idea. Since I live in France I’m also inspired to try new combinations when I visit the market usually saturdays. Here is my favourite salad at the moment: 2 bulbs of fennel, chopped in fine streaks, 15 black and 15 green olives chopped, parsley and coriander chopped and a very sec and old Crottin de Chavignol planed in thin slices are mixed together. Add the juice of one lemon and some good olive oil. Salt, pepper and/ or Piment d’Espelette (which I discovered through your site, really an excellent taste). Tomorrow i’ll try your red cabbage salad.

  • Dana

    Wish I had this recipe last week, when I had to evict part of a cabbage head from my vegetable drawer (after a period of prolonged loitering)…Bet it would go great with the duck confit and pommes sarladaises you made a while ago!

  • Claudia – Mango and red cabbage sound like a marriage made in heaven, thanks for the suggestion! I like mango so much though, that I have a hard time using it in anything, I usually just gobble it up on its own! :)

    Bluepoppy – And what’s the other cabbage in the salade de deux choux? I’ll have to give that restaurant a try…

    Barrett – Many thanks for the congrats!

    Papa – Je ressortirai cette salade pour Halloween alors! :)

    Christoph – Thanks for sharing your salad idea! I’m not a fan of raw fennel, but I’m guessing the aniseed taste is probably played down by the olives and cheese? And I’m very happy I led you to try Piment d’Espelette!

    Dana – Oh well, next time then! And I agree, red cabbage and duck confit would probably be great together, I’ll have to remember that…

  • sarah

    first: yes, felicitations on Gourmet’s mention (which is what led me to your site, which will lead to many happy hours of food reading, I’m sure!)
    second: re: the choux and the food processor: having just inherited a food processor I’m still unsure what it can handle – how does it shred choux without turning it into an ugly mess? which blade do you use?

  • Mmm…after my own successful foray into cabbage salad world, I’m inspired again by this recipe. And by the pairing of cabbage and mango.

    Sarah, when I shred cabbage in the food processor, I’ve had the best success using the slicing blade for one half and the shredding blade for the other.

  • Sarah – I use the slicing blade : I cut the cabbage in chunks small enough to be pushed down the little “chimney”, and I have found this makes nice strips.

    Jenny – Can’t wait to hear about your take on the cabbage salad!

  • Caitlin

    I think the only thing I’ve ever had red cabbage with is shredded, with julian carrots and a little lemon/lime juice. I don’t know if this is traditional or not, but it sure is wonderful served cold on a summer day in Texas.

  • Debbie

    Your version with the figs looks pretty good, actually, but I’ve developed an avoidance of warped Southern childhood memories featuring the sad American salad bar standard (all-shredded, all the time, with carrots and raisins in a sweet sauce, left out all day to wilt…) So I prefer my cabbage salads less delicate and sweet, more tailored to the bitter/bracing. Red cabbage works well either as the bitter, radishy partner for mild lettuces or as the mild, semisweet foil for a really bitter lettuce.

    My version:

    1/4 or so red cabbage cubed in bite-sized chunks
    a good handful or so of romaine or arugula
    a large red sweet (bell) pepper coarsely diced
    a peeled orange or (not “and”) some Roma tomatoes cut into bite-sized pieces
    a bit of shredded basil if you have it

    It’s good with plain oil/vinegar/s/p or with a creamy mustard/yogurt dressing, and it gets better with some toasted walnuts or gorgonzola or chevre sprinkled on top (on individual portions, leftovers wouldn’t store well with these mixed in). I don’t care that the cabbage and vinegar turn the orange silly colors like a badly tie-dyed teeshirt the next day, I still like eating the leftovers (maybe because my young daughter shrieks at the grooviness of it all). Cheers!

  • This is well after your original post . . . but I was having a look through your archives, really hoping to find a way to use up a vintage red cabbage. The salad was fabulous and a really good contrast to the meat, or should I say MEAT-centric BBQ I was attending.

    It’s genetically impossible for me to follow any recipe exactly to the letter, so I’m afraid I also added some garlic chives and a bit of shoyu to the dressing. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Jen

    I realize this post is several years old, but I just made this salad –with the addition of a touch of honey in the dressing, no sprouts, and subbed marcona almonds for the pumpkin seeds. YUM! Thanks for the great idea!

  • late to the conversation, but this is a keeper.

    shred red cabbage and fennel. add sliced scallions and grate a good inch of ginger. throw in a handful of chopped hazelnuts.

    toss with a dijon vinaigrette: 1 tablespoon dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons vinegar (cider, sherry or muscat), 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper.

  • Aska

    Hi Clotilde,

    I combine red cabbage with beets and carrots, also with a few leaves of lettuce (soft ones) to have it more colorful instead of just being red. Toss it all with cole slow dressing with mastard seed. Tastes sweet but not too much.

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