Black and Blue-Berry Slaw

Do you know the old riddle: What’s black and white and re(a)d all over? Depending on who you ask, the answer is a zebra wearing lipstick, an embarrassed skunk, a sunburned penguin, an angry ref, a newspaper.

Here’s a new chestnut for you: What’s black and blue and red all over? This summertime slaw showcasing the deep, dark hues of red cabbage, red onion, blueberries, and aged balsamic vinegar.

Okay, the joke’s not memorable, but the recipe is.

Black and blue salad ingredients

I was won over last summer when our bush was practically throwing berries at me, and Heaven forbid I squander them or complain about too many!

It served double duty, first as the crunch component in calamari tacos with radishes, beet greens and homemade flour tortillas, and then later in the week as a light lunch with fresh chevre and warm grains.

COBB Salad for Tacos

The cabbage and onion are kept raw, but soaked in ice water to enhance crunch and slightly dull any sharp flavors. The fresh blueberries add their natural sweetness, and the vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic — itself both sharp and sweet — is a nice complement that brings everything together.

What’s in it for me?

At roughly 20 calories per 1 cup (raw), red cabbage provides no fat or cholesterol, about 1 g of protein, 2 g fiber, 5 g total carbohydrate, a fair amount of folate, and is a good source of antioxidant vitamin C. Red cabbage and other cruciferous veg are excellent sources of a group of phytochemicals called glucosinolates that, when broken down either by chopping or chewing, produce isothiocyanate compounds with anti-carcinogenic properties.

Blueberries are an excellent source of vitamins C and K, manganese, and provide a fair amount of fiber for only 40 calories per 1/2-cup serving. They are among the most antioxidant-rich fruits, providing anthocyaninsresveratrol, and a variety of other phytochemicals. The high water and fiber contents of both blueberries and cabbage helps keep you hydrated, and also promotes good digestive health, stable blood sugars, and lowering of cholesterol levels.

Sulfur from red onion is required for synthesis of glutathione — an antioxidant critical in controlling inflammation and helping your immune system fight infections. The purple-y red pigment of red onion and red cabbage indicate the presence of anthocyanins and lycopene, providing heart health and cancer-fighting benefits. 

The main type of fat in olive oil — healthy monounsaturated fat — can improve overall cholesterol levels, decreasing risk of heart disease and stroke, and may help prevent onset or progression of type 2 diabetes. Olive oil also provides anti-inflammatory polyphenols, plus additional antioxidant benefits from alpha tocopherol — a form of vitamin EBalsamic vinegar adds flavor for minimal calories (roughly 5 per 1 tsp), and is yet another source of antioxidants.

Serve it as a vegetarian main with crumbles of chevre, feta or blue cheese, or toasted nuts or seeds, baked tofu or tempeh, lentils or beans; tucked inside warm tortillas or pitas with seafood or falafel; or as a stand-alone side to grilled meats, poultry or fish. I’m curious to try it on a Friday night pizza, perhaps with chevre and prosciutto?

This refreshing salad comes together quickly, packing bright flavors, crunch, natural hydration, and so much good nutrition. Add a few mint leaves, chilli flakes, lemon zest, ground cumin, etc. — give it a try, and make it your own!

Cheers, Heather

Tell me… Do you add fruit to slaws and salads? What’s your favorite combination?

Black and Blue-Berry Slaw
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Recipe Type: Salad, side, vegetarian, gluten-free, grain-free
Makes: 4 side servings
  • 1/2 small head of red cabbage
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
  1. Remove and discard the outer layers of the cabbage if wilted or gnarly looking. Cut the cabbage in half, then in half again to yield four small wedges. Trim out the core from each, and discard it.
  2. Finely shred each of the wedges with a sharp knife. (Alternatively, run the wedges through a food processor fitted with the shredder disc.) Transfer the shredded cabbage to a large bowl of ice water and add the red onion slices. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Drain the water, and pat the cabbage and onions dry. Return to the same bowl (after wiping it dry; or use a new bowl), and add the remaining ingredients. Toss to combine. Season lightly with salt and pepper; taste, and adjust seasonings, if needed.
HGN Notes
Now is the time to break out your best quality extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar. Because there is no cooking involved, the flavors of both will really shine through.

+ Top with 4 ounces crumbled chevre (goat cheese), feta or blue cheese
+ Up the crunch factor with toasted nuts or seeds
+ Make it a light meatless main with chickpeas, white beans, lentils, tofu or tempeh
+ Add more flavor with fresh herbs like mint, thyme or basil; lime, lemon or orange zest and/or juice; chilli flakes, ground cumin, or even cinnamon
Nutrition Info
Calories: 154 Fat: 10 Saturated fat: 1 Unsaturated fat: 9 Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 15 Sugar: 9 Sodium: 31 Fiber: 3 Protein: 2 Cholesterol: 0

Recipe adapted from Sweet Paul Magazine.

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