This vegan slaw is a vibrant and colourful addition to any barbecue or summer meal. Featuring crunchy veg and an Asian-inspired dressing, it's a truly delicious vegan side dish.
I could seriously eat this stuff all day long. The sesame and ginger dressing achieves a balance of sweet, tangy, and aromatic, with a nice little kick of heat from the chilli.
Whether you do the chopping manually or with a food processor, this is a great way to cram a load of vegetables into a meal. You can also make the slaw in advance, freeing up valuable time for whatever else you need to prepare.
If you're looking for similar summer salad ideas, check out this courgette salad with peanut dressing, Asian-inspired cucumber salad, cold rice noodle salad, and Mediterranean couscous salad.
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What's the difference between coleslaw and slaw?
Admittedly, the terms coleslaw and slaw seem to be used interchangeably these days. Here's my take on the main differences:
- Coleslaw originates from the Dutch word koolsla, meaning 'cabbage salad'. It traditionally features finely shredded raw cabbage and a mayonnaise dressing.
- Slaw is a spin-off term that usually refers to a wider mix of vegetables (including cabbage). While the dressing may include mayo, it can also be lighter with a more acidic or zestier base.
Unlike traditional coleslaw, this rainbow slaw features a variety of vegetables. It's also mayo-free, instead using a dressing full of Asian-inspired flavours.
Is vegan slaw healthy?
Since this rainbow slaw contains an array of colourful veg, it's no surprise that it's packed full of vitamins and nutrients. In one serving of this recipe you’ll find:
- Calories: 97 kcal
- Vitamin A: 5286 IU (106% of RDA)
- Vitamin C: 90 mg (109% of RDA)
- Fibre: 4 g (17% of RDA)
Which cabbage to use for slaw?
You can use any cabbage you like for this slaw, from red and white cabbage to other varieties such as napa (Chinese) cabbage, Savoy cabbage, or pak choi (also known as bok choy).
I've gone for an even mix of red and white cabbage, but you could simply double the amounts of one or the other.
What is agave syrup?
Agave syrup – or agave nectar – is a sweetener derived from the sap of the agave plant. This is also where tequila comes from.
Since agave syrup is plant-based, it has become popular in vegan cooking as an alternative to honey. If you don't have agave syrup, you can replace it with maple syrup or sugar.
Want to learn more? Check out this list of unusual vegan ingredients.
How to make vegan slaw with sesame ginger dressing
To make the dressing, simply add all the dressing ingredients (except the sesame seeds) to a jug or bowl and mix well until combined. Try a little and adjust the ingredients to suit your taste, if necessary.
Once you have prepared all the veg, add this to a large bowl and mix well using your hands or a spoon.
If using a food processor to grate/shred the vegetables, I'd suggest leaving out the red pepper, spring onions, and coriander. I find it's better to chop these separately and then add them in.
Pour half of the dressing over the mixed veg and toss well to combine, followed by the other half of the dressing.
If necessary, adjust the flavours again now that everything is mixed together – more lime juice for sharpness, more agave syrup if it's too sharp, more tamari/soy sauce for saltiness etc.
Mix well, sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds, and serve.
This vegan slaw was designed with barbecues and summer weather in mind, but you could use it with any meal at any time of year. Throw it into wraps, on top of burgers, or enjoy as a delicious light lunch or snack on its own.
For the best results, prepare this slaw slightly ahead of time and chill in the fridge for an hour or so before serving. You could also prepare the veg and dressing elements separately then mix them together an hour or so before serving.
If left for too long in the dressing, the veg will start to soften and lose its crunch. It'll still taste great, but I find that the sweet spot is anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
You can add any veg you like – cucumber, broccoli, onion, courgette, Brussels sprouts, mange tout, beetroot, radishes etc. If you can eat it raw, it can go in this.
Provided you use a GF soy sauce or tamari in the dressing, this slaw is 100% gluten-free.
You can store this rainbow slaw in a sealed container in the fridge for several days. The veg will start to soften and lose its crunch over time, so it's best to consume sooner rather than later.
After a while, you'll probably notice some liquid pooling at the bottom of the container. This is just excess water from the veg mixed with the dressing. You can scoop this to the top and mix it through each time before serving.
Variations and tips for vegan slaw
- Start with the dressing: This allows some time for the garlic and ginger to mellow slightly in the dressing mix.
- Preparing the veg: If you don't want to slice and grate the veg manually, you could use a food processor with a grater attachment.
- Garlic & ginger: You want the garlic and ginger to be very finely chopped or minced, almost to a paste. On that note, you could also use shop-bought pastes.
- Lime juice: You can easily swap this out for another acidic ingredient such as lemon juice or rice wine vinegar.
- Heat: I like to include the chilli seeds, but you can remove these if you're not a fan of the heat. You could also add more than one chilli if you want a bigger kick.
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More vegan recipe ideas
If you liked this recipe, you may also enjoy:
- Vegan Raita with Cucumber and Mint
- Cucumber Salad with Sesame Ginger Dressing
- Easy Vegan Couscous Salad
- Fried Cucumber with Five Spice
- Vegan Waldorf Salad
- Spinach Couscous
- Vegan Cucumber Sandwiches
- Vegan Pilau Rice
You can also check out my full list of vegan BBQ recipes.
Vegan Slaw with Sesame Ginger Dressing (GF)
For the slaw
- 3 carrots, grated or finely sliced
- Half a large white cabbage, grated or finely sliced (approx. 1 lb / 500 g)
- Half a large red cabbage, grated or finely sliced (approx. 1 lb / 500 g)
- 1 red pepper, finely sliced
- 4 spring onions, finely sliced
- Handful fresh coriander, roughly chopped (optional)
For the dressing
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons agave syrup or maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
- 1 inch piece of ginger, minced or finely chopped
- 1 chilli, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
- To make the dressing, simply add all the dressing ingredients (except the sesame seeds) to a jug or bowl and mix well until combined. Try a little and adjust the ingredients to suit your taste, if necessary.
- Once you have prepared all the veg, add this to a large bowl and mix well using your hands or a spoon. If using a food processor to grate/shred the vegetables, I'd suggest leaving out the red pepper, spring onions, and coriander. I find it's better to chop these separately and then add them in.
- Pour half of the dressing over the mixed veg and toss well to combine, followed by the other half of the dressing. If necessary, adjust the flavours again now that everything is mixed together – more lime juice for sharpness, more agave syrup if it's too sharp, more tamari/soy sauce for saltiness etc.
- Mix well, sprinkle with the toasted sesame seeds, and serve. For the best results, prepare this slaw slightly ahead of time and chill in the fridge for an hour or so before serving (but not too long as the veg will start to soften and lose its crunch).
- Courgette and Carrot Salad with Peanut Dressing
- Easy Vegan Couscous Salad
- Moroccan Couscous with Roasted Veg
- Three-Bean Salad with Lemon, Mint and Parsley
- Grilled Teriyaki Tofu Steaks
- King Oyster Mushroom Steaks
- Vietnamese-Style Rice Paper Rolls
- Cajun-Spiced Baked Potato Wedges
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Your zesty rainbow slaw was the perfect accompaniment to my vegan haggis sausage rolls, made with the leftovers from Burns Night
The Pesky Vegan
Sounds like a colourful combo, cheers for the review!
I'm not Vegan but trying to eat more vegetables and less meat. This will be for Sunday dinner along with beetroot burgers. 😃
The Pesky Vegan
Good job for the effort, hope you enjoy the slaw!
Thanks for the recipe. I have a lot of food allergies (14) so I had to make subs for the dressing so I used coconut amino acids and I also used light agave and no sesame. I also added more veggies such as broccoli, cucumbers, and radishes. it has turned out really well. All my allergies are still fairly new so I am still learning how to work around them. I am working on a blog about them. Also fairly new to help me with the struggle.
The Pesky Vegan
Hi there, thanks very much for leaving a review. That does sound tricky with the allergies, but I think a blog is a great idea for you and others to understand them better. Good luck with it - I know that my own blog has taught me a lot over the last year or so!
Great side salad - I ate so much of it!!
The Pesky Vegan
Glad you enjoyed, thanks for the review!