Fall Ingredients Shine in Vivian Howard’s Autumn Slaw

autumn slaw

Photo credit: Laura Gallagher

It’s hard to get excited about slaw. The word itself reads sloppy afterthought. But this hyper-crunchy, bright, fresh cast of colors makes me want to rename the genre. Preserved orange and pickled ginger are the sharp notes that pull the more muted ones from shy sweet potatoes and subtle beets as the juice from shredded apples bathes everything in a fall glow. And lots and lots of fresh mint turn this salad of sorts into a veritable palate cleanser.

Yes, this tastes like fall and calls on ingredients we associate with the season, but apples, beets and sweet potatoes are omnipresent and of quality all year long in the grocery store, so when you’re asked to bring slaw to the picnic, choose this no matter the season. You’ll become the slaw provider moving forward. If you’d like to turn slaw into a bona fide lunch, season some avocado with salt and lemon juice and spoon this, the crunchiest thing you can imagine, on top of that, the creamy thing the whole world seems to love, and lunch.

Note: I’ve gone to great lengths (and to Walmart a lot) to make sure you can buy just about everything needed for my recipes just about everywhere. I’m also adamant you only buy things you’re gonna use over and over again when you cook. Pickled ginger is one of those things and, believe it or not, it lives in the “international” aisle of Walmarts everywhere. It’s got all the things – texture, acid, sweetness and a palate-cleansing spice. Put it on your shopping list and don’t forget to use its brine to lend lift to sauces or a distinct punch to vinaigrettes.

See more: Vivian Howard’s Sloppy Joe Shirred Eggs with Spinach

Autumn Slaw

Makes: 6 servings


  • Zest of 2 oranges removed with a microplane
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 medium beets, peeled
  • 4 small crisp apples, cut from their core
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup pickled ginger, drained of its brine
  • As much mint as you can muster to pick but no less than ½ cup


  1. To make the dressing, whisk together the orange rind, mayo, sour cream, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt and vinegar.
  2. I don’t bring out kitchen gadgets unless they save a lot of time because I hate washing dishes, so the fact I call for the shredding blade of your food processor should really tell you something about the time it saves. If you don’t have a food processor, strap on your knife or employ a mandoline to cut the vegetables into thin strips. Because of the red-bleed potential beets promise, start with the apple and follow up with the sweet potato. Combine them in a large bowl, and then go about shredding or chopping the beets. Once the beets have been cut, put them in a bowl and rinse then drain them 4 or 5 times. This might sound like a lot of work, but it will wash away a lot of the red dye that will otherwise make your slaw one unappetizing color.
  3. Once you’ve rinsed your beets, combine the shredded vegetables with the scallion, pickled ginger and remaining salt. Pour the dressing over top and let everything mingle together in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Just before serving, stir in most of the mint. Save a little for the top as garnish.

Vivian Howard


  1. Michelle

    August 20, 2020 at 9:14 am

    So the beets and sweet potato are raw?

    • Rachel Graf

      August 20, 2020 at 9:50 am

      Yes, that’s correct!

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