Sweet-tart slaw with fig dressing serves as a colorful nutritional balance to whatever you might be grilling. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post)

Sweet-tart slaw with fig dressing serves as a colorful nutritional balance to whatever you might be grilling. (Photo by Stacy Zarin Goldberg for The Washington Post)

Colorful slaw is the gem that will brighten your next cookout

The salad is tossed with a sweet-tart blend of dried figs, cider vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil.

It’s well worth having this unique slaw at top of mind for your summer menus. It offers crisp, fresh contrast and colorful nutritional balance to whatever you might be grilling, and it holds up well in a picnic cooler. That could be said of most slaws, but this gem-hued tumble of red cabbage, shaved carrot and onion with a nutty crunch of sunflower seeds, has a tasty twist that ups the ante both flavor-and health-wise.

Instead of swimming in the usual mayonnaise-heavy dressing, the vegetables here are tossed with a sweet-tart blend of dried figs, cider vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil, all whirred in a food processor until creamy. The dried figs, mostly broken down in the end, leave bits of texture in the dressing and offer a gentle, healthful sweetness — not enough to notice the fruit per se, but to balance the bright, tangy pucker from the vinegar.

Together, the ingredients add just the right flavor punch to brighten a barbecue-sauce-slathered protein or burger, or to enliven a summer salad spread. This new take on an old favorite will be a highlight on your table, whether you are eating outdoors or inside.

Sweet-tart slaw with fig dressing

Make ahead: The slaw will keep for about 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

3 tablespoons hulled, unsalted sunflower seeds

4 dried Mission figs (about 1½ ounces), stemmed and cut into quarters

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, or more as needed

1 tablespoon honey

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 cups very thinly sliced red cabbage

1 cup shredded carrot (about 1 large carrot)

½ very thinly sliced small red onion

Toast the sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 3 minutes, until they are fragrant and a shade darker. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

If the figs are very dry, rehydrate them by covering them with warm water for about 10 minutes, or until they soften a bit; drain.

Combine the figs, oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a mini food processor; puree or process to form a fairly smooth and emulsified dressing. Bits of fig will remain; that’s OK.

Pour the dressing into a large mixing bowl. Add the cabbage, carrot and red onion, then gently toss to coat evenly. Taste, and add more vinegar, as needed.

Add the toasted sunflower seeds just before serving.

Makes 4 to 6 servings (makes 4 cups). Nutrition per serving (based on 6): 120 calories, 1 gram protein, 13 grams carbohydrates, 8 grams fat, 1 grams saturated fat, no cholesterol, 70 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 9 grams sugar.

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