Root vegetable slaw with sesame-soy vinaigrette

When you think root vegetables, do you think roasted, wintry dishes? Me too, until I made this slaw, full of fresh, bright flavours.

When you think root vegetables, do you think hearty, wintry dishes? Glazed carrots and parsnips? A mess of roasted sweet potatoes? And let’s not forget those mashes — you can mash nearly any root veggie, from potato, to turnip, to celeriac. I’ve got nothing against those comfort food classics, but I wanted something that still tasted summery from my Highmark Farms haul this week*

Highmark’s Zach to the rescue! After chatting with Zach for a few minutes at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market on Sunday, he laid down a carrot, a daikon radish, a parsnip, and a beet on the table in front of me and suggested I make a slaw. This was a revelation to me. A cabbage-free slaw, with … parsnip? I was a bit skeptical, but definitely willing to try it.

csa-rootslaw1Confession time: I’ve had a Benriner mandoline sitting in its box in my kitchen for oh, about two years. There have been many recipes that called for julienned veggies and I either used the grater disc on my food processor (a poor substitute), pulled out the chef’s knife and got to work, or decided to make another recipe. I was terrified of that thing, with its finger-slicing blades. Well, I’m feeling a bit silly now because it wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought. If you take your time, watch what you’re doing, and use the guard to hold your vegetables in place, it’s actually a snap.

Once the vegetables were ready, I got to work on a vinaigrette. I’m no stranger to making my own salad vinaigrettes. I’ve been doing it for ages now — once you go homemade, you really can’t go back to bottled (even the ones with all-natural ingredients taste strange to me). It’s the easiest thing in the world to do, and if you make enough, you’ll have it in your fridge for a week. I knew I wanted this one to have Asian flavours, so I threw in a bit of soy sauce, some sesame oil, the juice of half an orange, a hint of Dijon, some honey, and a few other pantry staples. The dressing was strongly flavoured, but that’s what I wanted, as I knew those flavours would be somewhat muted after they hit the crunchy veggies.

csa-rootslaw2The result? Wow, I was really impressed at how fresh, bright and crisp this slaw was. I’ve been warned that getting a CSA box in the winter can mean week after week of root veggies, but now that I know I can “summer-ize” them, I’m not the least bit concerned. I imagine you could come up with any number of variations on this slaw — change up the dressing, add nuts, seeds, or other vegetables for more colour and texture. [There’s a delicious looking beet slaw in the new cookbook from my friends Ceri and Laura, How to Feed a Family, that I’ve bookmarked for a future dinner.] As for uses, it would make a great addition to a sandwich or burger. We had ours as the side to a hoisin-glazed pork tenderloin. (Although I personally think the slaw ruled the plate!)

I highly recommend chatting with the farmers you’re buying from, if you can. For one, you’ll learn more about the food you’re eating and how it’s grown, you’ll be inspired to cook with different ingredients (this was my first time using daikon radish), and in my experience few people know more about the best ways to cook with produce than the people who grow it. Thanks, Zach!

Root vegetable slaw with sesame-soy vinaigrette
Serves 4 (double the recipe if you’re serving more people)

1 carrot, peeled and julienned
1 parsnip, peeled and julienned
1 daikon radish, peeled and julienned
1 large red beet, peeled and julienned
Cilantro for garnish


1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp neutral flavoured oil, such as grapeseed
Juice of 1/2 orange
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Water to thin out the dressing, if needed


Peel and julienne your vegetables and set aside in a large bowl.

Mix together vinaigrette ingredients in a Mason jar. Shake well to combine. Taste for seasoning. I like my dressing full-flavoured and acidic. If it’s too bracing for you, thin with water, or add extra grapeseed oil or honey.

A few minutes before serving, pour vinaigrette over vegetables and mix in bowl to combine. Err on the side of less dressing. You can add more if you like, but you don’t want the slaw to be sopping wet.

Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve.

*As I mentioned in my previous post, I pick up my first CSA box from Highmark Farms on November 3. Until then, I’ll be blogging about what I’m picking up from them at their Leslieville Farmers’ Market stall.

I’d love to hear what you’re cooking with your seasonal veggies! Share your comments and ideas below!