Add Some Elegance to Your Next BBQ with This Sophisticated Slaw

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Photo: Anna Thomas

We can’t wait for barbecue season to commence—brisket and pork sandwiches, hamburgers, hot dogs slathered in ketchup and mustard…YUM. But it’s important to balance out all of that rich, heavy meat with something bright and healthy. At your next backyard bash, try subbing out standard coleslaw for the Fennel and Asparagus Ribbon Slaw from Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore: Dinner for Everyone at the Table ($21;, a new cookbook by Anna Thomas. “Use a mandoline to shave the fennel, and watch a hard bulb turn into thin, translucent ribbons,” writes the James Beard Award-winning author. Read on for her easy, elegant recipe.

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Anna Thomas

Fennel and Asparagus Ribbon Slaw

Serves 6 to 8 as a first course or side salad


2–3 large fennel bulbs (about 1 lb)
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1 ¼ lbs fresh asparagus (about 2 bunches)
1/4 cup chopped fennel fronds
1/4 cup dill weed, pulled off the stems
1/3 cup (1 ½ oz) lightly toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus more to taste


1. Trim the fennel bulbs, peeling down the tough outer layer, and cut the green stalks down to about 2 inches, just enough to hold on to as you slice. Use a mandoline to shave the fennel into paper-thin ribbons. You should have at least 4 cups, loosely packed. Pour the lemon juice over the shaved fennel to keep it from turning brown.

2. Rinse the asparagus and snap off the tough bottoms of the stalks. You should have about 12 ounces of trimmed asparagus, to yield about 3 cups when sliced. Use your sharpest knife to slice the stalks thinly on a deep slant, and reserve the tips.

3. Combine all the ingredients in an ample bowl and toss gently. Taste, and adjust the salt or lemon if needed. Scatter the reserved asparagus tips over the top as a pretty garnish, or mix them into the salad.

Recipes and images from Vegan Vegetarian Omnivore by Anna Thomas. Copyright © 2016 by Independent Productions, Inc. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

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