~ Easy Amish Dutch-Style Sweet & Sour Coleslaw ~
Walk into an Amish market and you'll likely find a side-dish in the refrigerated deli-section simply labeled "Dutch slaw". It'll be right next to the ever-popular finely-minced "pepper cabbage" (also known as "overnight coleslaw") and the classic creamy-crunchy mayonnaise-dressed coleslaw. It's a monochromatic mixture of shredded cabbage, celery, onion and green bell pepper dressed with a pretty yellow-colored, celery seed and onion-laced oil-based sweet and sour dressing.
Interestingly, the Amish label it "Dutch slaw" because it is the Pennsylvania Deutsch version of the Amish's own version of sweet and sour slaw (known as "Amish slaw" and dressed with a mayonnaise-based similarly-seasoned sweet and sour dressing). How do I know this? I've lived my entire life in Pennsylvania (I grew up near Pennsylvania Deutsch country and currently live near Amish country), so, I understand the subtle differences. In the event you don't, I will share the following paragraph (which you'll find on many of my PA Deutsch posts) once again:
You say Pennsylvania Dutch, We say Pennsylvania Deutsch.
Let me make it clear that Pennsylvania Dutch cookery does not belong solely to PA and it is not Dutch either. The term "Dutch" was the early English settlers slang for the German word "Deutsch". So: When most people incorrectly say "Pennsylvania Dutch", they should be saying "Pennsylvania Deutsch", crediting the Germanic or German-speaking immigrants from Germany and Switzerland for this cuisine. The majority of these people were either Amish, Mennonite or Brethren, all of which were considered "Anabaptist". They were fleeing the mountains of Switzerland and southern Germany to avoid religious persecution and established several communites in the Lehigh Valley. Why? Thank William Penn for his free-thinking, open-door, equal-opportunity-for-all of any religion or race politics. Pennsylvania set an example for the other colonies, who all had established an official "State" religion. Pennsylvania. The first to welcome people of all beliefs and walks of life? You betcha.
Let's talk 'slaw, coleslaw or cole slaw (cabbage salad):
Coleslaw is a salad of shredded green, red or white cabbage that gets mixed with other vegetables (onion, carrot and bell pepper being most common) then tossed with a mayonnaise, vinaigrette or other type of dressing. Some versions contain bacon, pickles and/or seasonal herbs. It is safe to say there are as many versions as their are cooks. One of my fruity Fall favorites contains shredded fennel, chopped apples, pears and bacon -- tossed with my recipe for sweet and sour dressing, it is "to die for".
The key to great homemade coleslaw is to insure your vegetables are "dry", meaning: dry of as much moisture as possible before combining them with the dressing. My grandmother taught me to shred my cabbage, chop my vegetables, then, wrap them individually in a kitchen towel and refrigerate them overnight prior to proceeding to mix the slaw. The day I started using the store-bought, pre-washed, dried and shredded slaw mix, instead of shredding my own cabbage, I never looked back. If my grandmother had this available she would have used it too.
"The secret's in the sauce", or in this case, the proper dressing:
Having the right store-bought brand or recipe for ~ PA Deutsch (Dutch) Sweet & Sour Dressing ~ is the key to this slaw. Throughout the greater Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania, Wos-Wit is the store brand of choice. In my kitchen, Nana's recipe, which was given to me by my husband's PA Deutsch grandmother is the one I use.
Click on the Related Article link below to get my recipe. It's super easy to make: just seven on-hand pantry ingredients, no chopping slicing or dicing, and 5 minutes of your time. Check it out.
3/4 cup each: diced celery and green bell pepper (4 ounces each)
1/2 cup small-diced diced onion (3 ounces)
1/2 cup crisply-fried and small-diced bacon (about 4 strips of thick-sliced bacon or 6 strips of thin-sliced bacon)
3/4-1 cup sweet & sour dressing, store-bought or my recipe
~Step 1. Prep and place all of the vegetables in a large bowl as you work. Using a pair of salad servers (or two large spoons), toss all of the ingredients together. Add 3/4 cup of the dressing and thoroughly toss again, making sure all of the vegetables are evenly coated in dressing. Transfer to a 2-quart food storage container w/a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, stopping to toss a time or two (when it's convenient) while it is in the refrigerator.
Remove well-chilled coleslaw from refrigerator, toss & taste.
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; salad servers or two large spoons; 2-quart food storage container w/tight-fitting lid
Cook's Note: If placed on the table next to Nana's sweet & sour Dutch slaw, ~ Nana's "Overnight" PA Deutsch Pepper Cabbage ~, I would have a hard time deciding which one to eat first. Make 'em both and see if you can make a decision. Click on the Related Article link below to get the recipe.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)