This recipe is my go-to for coleslaw. In fact, I have never made any other version of coleslaw in my life. You know how when you find something that works really well, you just stick with it? Like long-sleeved classic white T-shirts from The Gap? Well, that is the way of this coleslaw. The Gap T-shirt of coleslaw. It is the only one you will ever need.
Side note: coleslaw is kind of a funny word… each time I type it I think it’s weirder and weirder… or maybe I am the weird one? Regardless, it doesn’t exactly “roll off the tongue.”
Sweet, tangy, and full of flavor, this coleslaw pairs a unique blend of oil and vinegar, mustard, celery seed, and sugar over a simple mixture of green cabbage and onions. The liquids and spices are boiled together and poured over the cabbage and onions, blanching the vegetables to soften slightly and imbibe a ton of flavor. It’s a very similar method to making quick refrigerator pickles, like pickled jalapenos– it’s extremely quick and easy, and feeds a large crowd for almost no money.
Do not let these pictures deceive you. I know, it doesn’t LOOK like it is bursting at the seams with flavor, but trust me… it is.
When I was young, my family travelled to Bar Harbor, Maine for my older brother’s wedding. We ate at a restaurant that served amazing coleslaw, and not expecting cooperation with her request, my mother asked the waiter for the recipe. To our surprise, they gave it to her! I don’t know the name of the restaurant, but I do know that you should drop everything you are doing and make this right now. I’ve made a few adjustments from the original recipe, including swapping out vegetable oil for healthier olive oil.
Disclaimer- your kitchen will likely smell strongly of vinegar while making this. It is a small sacrifice to pay for this amazing food of the gods. Also, it’s best to prepare this at least one day in advance (stirring every few hours or so as it sits in the fridge), so the flavors seep in overnight.
"Bar Harbor" Coleslaw (mayo-free!)
- Mix cabbage and onion in a large bowl.
- Boil the remaining ingredients on stove, whisking to combine.
- Pour hot dressing on top of cabbage; stir to coat.
- Refrigerate for at least two hours before serving; stir occasionally to redistribute dressing.