Citrus Napa Cabbage Salad

january 23, 2015

citrus napa cabbage salad


It’s not always easy to eat “clean” in chain restaurants.  Even relatively upscale chains may offer foods that are pre-breaded or bathed in a flavor enhanced sauce, or chopped in a distant city and transported in brine to your town.  In short, chains are often loaded with processed foods.

Your best bet is a salad, or simply grilled meats and seafood. Fortunately many restaurants list salad with the option  of adding grilled protein to make it a meal. That’s a cleaner choice than the same protein deep fried or bathed in gravy.  Let’s borrow that concept with a seasonal winter citrus salad that may be served as an accompaniment to your meal, or as an entree when topped with grilled meats, seafood, cheese, tofu or whatever strikes your fancy.

I like alternative greens as a salad base : kale in Tuscan Kale and Goat Cheese Salad and swiss chard in Fall Harvest Salad. Napa cabbage has a pleasant bitter edge balanced nicely with the sweetness of crunchy pomegranate seeds, navel orange sections and clementine vinaigrette.  Italian parsley, so often relegated to garnish status and left uneaten on the plate, is a key player here, adding visual interest and that nice celery flavor.

Navel oranges are easiest to section; cut off the rind with a sharp knife, removing all the bitter white pith, and cut between the membranes for pretty salad additions.

orange sections



Cooked rutabaga is the rock star of winter root vegetables, but raw rutabaga really rocks when cut into thin strips.  Radishes keep good company with the napa cabbage in preventing sweetness overload.  If you can’t find black radish, red or French will substitute well.

citrus napa cabbage salad  Pomegranate seeds (called arils) can be purchased in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets, but if you don’t mind a little manual labor, remove the seeds from a whole fruit and store tightly covered in the fridge for up to two weeks.  I like the chewiness of raw sunflower seeds and find their toasted version distracting in salads.

Make ahead tip : this salad is a good keeper if made up to one week ahead in the undressed state, even with the orange sections added.  Clementine vinaigrette clementine vinaigrettemay be made weeks ahead. So fire up the grill, and while the meat or seafood is grilling, pile this salad high on a big old plate , then “eat clean” in the comfort of your own home.

Citrus Napa Cabbage Salad

recipe by Michele Humlan, The Good Eats Company

makes four  servings, enough for four large appetizer salads or four entree salads if served with meats , seafood, cheese or tofu


one half of a large napa cabbage, shredded (about five cups)
one cup of raw rutabaga cut into thin strips (julienne)
one small bunch Italian parsley, cleaned, leaves only
one cup pomegranate seeds (arils)
one half small black radish cut into thin strips
(or 4-6 red radishes cut into thin strips)
sections from four small or two large navel oranges
four tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
one recipe clementine vinaigrette
optional: grilled meats, poultry, seafood, tofu or cheese as salad toppingcitrus napa cabbage salad


  1. In large salad bowl, toss together napa cabbage, rutabaga, Italian parsley, pomegranate seeds , radish and navel orange sections.
  2. Salad may be tossed with just enough clementine vinaigrette to coat greens or vinaigrette may be drizzled over salad at the table.
  3. Offer sunflower seeds at the table for sprinkling atop each salad.
  4. Top salad with freshly grilled protein at the table if serving as an entree salad.
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