As I write this, I am snacking on toasty, sea-salted pepitas. For some wonderful reason, during a recent trip cooking for a group of hungry glampers in Chaco Canyon, my relationship with these crunchy-hulled pumpkin seeds transitioned from go-to salad topper to my new favorite snack. Now they hold both titles in my heart, and I’m so happy to share a recipe that shows the full range of their delightfulness — texture and flavor.
The intention behind this slaw is to embrace summer and fall simultaneously. We have entered a time of bounty and riches, weeks where heirloom tomatoes sit upon the throne and still rule with splendor. The scent of fire-roasted chile also fills the air, a clear sign my favorite time of the year has arrived. In addition to celebrating pepitas, this slaw is made for and because of the mild, smokey and deeply flavorful poblano chile.
This can be made all at one time, or the toasted pepitas and green chile crema can be made ahead of time, which will make putting this salad together even faster (more like 15 minutes). It is lovely on its own and also easily pairs with grilled or roasted chicken, salmon, steak or avocado.
End of Summer Slaw
Total time: 1 hour; makes: 4-6 servings
For the roasted pepitas:
1 cup pepitas (aka hull-less pumpkin seeds)
1 teaspoon olive oil
generous pinch or crack of sea salt
For the green chile crema:
2 fire-roasted poblano chiles (or other favorite chile) peeled, seeded and diced
½ cup sour cream
pinch of salt
For the vinaigrette:
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
2 juicy limes, zested with a microplane and juiced
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
honey, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
For the slaw:
3 cups sliced red cabbage
3 cups sliced green cabbage
4 cups arugula
1 ear of sweet corn, kernels cut off the cob
1 carrot, peeled then peeled into curls
1 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Preparation: Before we make the slaw, let’s prepare the toasted pepitas and chile crema: In a large skillet over medium heat, add the pepitas, olive oil and salt. Toast the pepitas until they start to crackle and get golden, stirring frequently so they don’t burn. This takes anywhere from 10-15 minutes depending on how high the heat is. Turn the heat off and transfer to a heat-proof container to cool. To make the crema, simply place the sour cream, chiles and a pinch of salt in a blender. Blend until smooth and refrigerate in the fridge until ready to serve the slaw.
Then you’re ready to make the slaw. In a small skillet, lightly toast the coriander over medium heat for a few minutes. You’ll know it’s done when you can smell a delightfully citrusy, floral and nutty fragrance waft up from the pan. Turn the heat off, semi-crush the seeds with a quick pulse in a bone-dry blender, using a mortar and pestle or bottom of a bowl. Transfer the crushed coriander to a large salad bowl. Add the lime zest, juice, extra-virgin olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Whisk and then give a taste. Depending on how juicy your limes are, you might want to add a little more oil. Handle the honey, salt and pepper the same way. Adjust as needed until it tastes great to you. Now add red cabbage, green cabbage, arugula, corn kernels, carrot curls and cilantro. Toss it all together. Give a taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
To serve: On individual plates or a large platter, pile the slaw in the center of the plate. Drizzle the chile crema around the salad and top with toasted pepitas.