My new friend Sasi, who is originally from Sri Lanka, has a garden full of hot peppers. So when I offered him a ride to a class we are taking together, he paid me back with a bag full of little bright Bird’s Eye chilies, Indian cayenne and serranos. There is only one way to repay kindness, repaying kindness…create kindness again. What could be kinder than cabbage?

Cabbage—the lovely little purple and green heads that show up in my fall farmers market are so tender and sweet, they rival lettuces. They love something pungent and spicy as a spotlight. So it was an easy idea to create this Cabbage with a Kick Salad in honor of my new friend. And be aware that the strength of that “kick” is really up to you. For my salad, I used Sasi’s Indian cayenne—seeds and all, with a jalapeño thrown in for good measure. If this is more kick than you can handle, choose just the jalapeño, or half of one. I will say, though, that this is, perhaps, the best cabbage salad I’ve ever made, but we really get a kick out “kick.”


I think what I like best about the dressing on this salad is its balance. There’s a little bit of every kind of taste in here: sweet and smokey molasses, the umami of miso, the buttery taste of cashew, heat from the chilies and freshness with the cilantro and acidic lime. If cabbage is not your favorite salad, try the dressing on cold noodles or use it to wilt cool-weather greens, like kale and chard. Be brave.