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Asian-Inspired Napa Cabbage Salad

A few weeks ago when I hosted a pot luck dinner for some friends from my nutrition school days, I promised on this blog to post all the recipes from the evening.  This napa cabbage salad was originally on the menu (but got usurped by Isa and Terry’s Caesar).   Well, tonight we ate the salad with/for dinner, so I’m happy to finally present the recipe here.

Napa is one of those foods that seems to straddle two different types of vegetable:  is it a lettuce (genus lactuca)?  Is it a cabbage (genus brassica)?*  What I love about it is its perma-crunch quality; even the next day, and even if you’ve thrown foresight to the winds and dressed the entire salad, the leftovers are still crisp.  In fact, my HH remarked this evening that he prefers this salad on the second day, as the flavors mature! (I’ll try that next time I make a salad of mesclun greens, too:  “Yes, that’s right Honey, it’s supposed to be limp and a bit slimy; that’s just what happens on the second day, after the flavors mature“).

After a long day of grocery shopping, errands, school work, and grumbling over the thermostat falling once again, I wasn’t feeling overly hungry (shocking, I know, but it does happen once in a while).  I’d picked up some sliced turkey for my HH, and had the napa in mind for me.  Turned out to be the perfect dinner for a six-foot one, 195-pound male carnivore and a five-foot four (and a half!), mumblemumbleunclearnumber-pound female vegetarian:  turkey sandwich and napa salad for him; a big plate of napa salad for me.  Mmm.  Can’t wait for the mature leftovers, tomorrow.


Napa Cabbage Salad

This fabulous salad recipe was given to me by my friend Barbara, who got if from someone else (exactly whom, she can no longer remember).   The two essential components, I’ve found, are the napa and the dressing; pretty much everything else can be adjusted or substituted. This is the type of salad that invites picking at it, right out of the salad bowl, once you’ve already finished what’s on your plate.


1 whole napa cabbage, washed, trimmed, and sliced thinly on the diagonal

1 cup cooked and shelled edamame (we were out, so I just used snap peas)

1 carrot, grated, if desired

1/4-1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds


1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

8 drops stevia (or you can use sugar, about 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce

1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil

1 very small onion, grated on the finest holes of your grater (it should almost liquefy)

1 clove garlic, crushed

Toss the cabbage, edamame, carrot (if desired), pine nuts, and sesame seeds in a large salad bowl.

In a smaller bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk to mix well.  Pour over salad and toss to coat. Makes about 6 servings. 

cabbageend.jpg *In case you’re wondering, it’s actually the same genus as regular cabbage, brassica.


7 comments to Asian-Inspired Napa Cabbage Salad

  • don’t know napia at all but will keep an eye out for it (and then forget why I wanted to find it – but the good intention will be there). Seriously, I would love to make this salad if I do find napia! Wanted to say I finally made some of your interesting cashew chop chip cookies and really enjoyed them – thanks


  • Johanna,

    I think this salad could work with any cabbage as long as the taste wasn’t too overpowering. I believe napa is also called Chinese cabbage or Chinese lettuce in some areas–have you heard that name? Here’s a link to some photos, so you can see if you recognize it: http://www.evergreenseeds.com/headtypnapca.html .

    And thanks so much for trying out the cookies! It is much appreciated. I’ve hopped over to your blog to take a look and have added some suggestions about the recipe over there on your comments as well.


  • The cabbage salad looks yummy! I’m curious about the combination of pine nuts and sesame seeds.


  • jenny wren,

    Welcome–and thanks so much. The pine nuts are great in this–they’re smooth and firm, with that pine-nutty creaminess, and the sesames add a wonderful crunch here and there alongside the juicy crunch of the napa. Let me know if you give it a try!


  • Thank you for this post! I can definitely make this salad and a nice switch from my usual romaine and garbanzo beans.


  • Grumpy Chair,

    You’re welcome! Hope you enjoy the change of pace.


  • This recipe looks delicious. I make the Top Ramen version where the ingredients consist of chopped Napa cabbage, celery, green onions, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds and a package of uncooked Top Ramen noodles topped with a dressing of blue agave, vinegar and top ramen mix. Yummy as well. Thanks for sharing your version – I will try it next time. One can not miss with using Napa – I am so tired of lettuce.


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