Nicola Galloway: Mandarin & beetroot slaw

Zingy citrus flavours brighten both winter days and this delicious slaw full of nutritional goodness. 

I am not sure where we would find ourselves without the golden globes of citrus through the winter months. They bring some sunshine inside on cold days, and fresh flavour to our plates. Wedges of tart lemon or lime served alongside soups and curries add a brightness that can be lacking in winter meals. Lemon, ginger and honey drinks make a regular appearance on cold winter mornings.

And let’s not forget sweet and juicy oranges, mandarins, tangelos, and the like. They appear just in time for winter when we need that extra vitamin C. Weekend winter sports wouldn’t be the same without the essential container of cut oranges, or a bag of mandarins, for that extra burst of energy at halftime.

If you live in the temperate areas of Aotearoa citrus trees are easy to grow. Their evergreen quality adds some much-needed greenery to the garden through the winter months. The unripe green fruit can be almost invisible within the canopy, and then quite suddenly they begin to colour adding pops of yellow and orange to the garden.

Citrus trees also grow well in large pots if you don’t have a garden space. Or if you are renting, grow bags are another option for transportable fruit trees. I currently have two young citrus trees, a meyer lemon and makrut lime, in grow bags so I can move them under the eaves of the house to keep them protected from frost.

In the backyard we have a navel orange and lisbon lemon that were both well established when we moved here 17 years ago. For my daughter’s fifth birthday my Dad gifted her a satsuma mandarin tree. We planted it beside the orange and lemon trees to create a small citrus grove in our ever evolving food forest. The small tree mandarin has happily doubled its harvest each year for the last 8 years. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

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I can’t take full credit for this recipe. When I told my son I was making a coleslaw with mandarins, he promptly told me how it should look and drew me a diagram. The layering is his idea, to be tossed together just before serving. This way it can be made ahead of time, covered and chilled until ready to serve. If mixed too early the beetroot juice will taint the colour of the salad, but if mixed to serve it adds a fun tie-dyed aspect to the salad. The wasabi in dressing is a bit of a wild card, which is optional, but it adds a nice kick on a winter night.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Serves 4-6 as a side

1 medium beetroot, peeled and grated (about 200g)
1-2 carrots, peeled and grated
2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
2-3 mandarins, peeled
4 tbsp tamari toasted seeds – see directions below

Mandarin Ginger Dressing
1 tbsp lime or lemon juice
juice of 2 mandarins, about 2 tbsp
1 tsp finely grated ginger
½-1 tsp wasabi (optional)
pinch each of salt and sugar
3 tbsp olive oil

In a large salad bowl spread a layer of beetroot, followed by carrot, and then the shredded cabbage.
Segment the mandarins and slice each in half. Dot them over the cabbage, then sprinkle over the toasted seeds.
Make the dressing. In a jar combine the lime or lemon juice, mandarin juice, ginger, wasabi, salt and sugar. Shake well to combine. Add the olive oil and shake to emulsify. Adjust the taste by adding extra lime, wasabi or sugar to balance the flavours.
When ready to serve, pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.

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Tamari Toasted Seeds – makes 1 cup
In a dry frying pan, place ⅓ cup each of sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds. Cook over a moderate heat until the seeds begin to pop and golden in colour. Tip onto a plate and sprinkle with 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce. Toss to combine and leave to cool. Transfer to a jar and store in the pantry. Use within 1 month.

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