Sunflower seeds give this red cabbage and fennel slaw a nutty crunch. (Deb Lindsey / For The Washington Post)

Sunflower seeds give this red cabbage and fennel slaw a nutty crunch. (Deb Lindsey / For The Washington Post)

Put a little more awe in your slaw with shredded vegetables

This healthful recipe’s bright, fresh ingredients banish thoughts of a mayonnaise-heavy salad.

All too often, slaw is a sad and soggy afterthought — a mayonnaise-heavy mound of cabbage smothered into submission. What a missed opportunity when you consider the bright, fresh possibilities a good slaw presents.

The accompanying recipe is a case in point. It is a crisp, colorful melange of shredded vegetables — red cabbage, fennel, carrot and onion — in a tangy-sweet vinaigrette, made with healthful oil, that softens the slaw components slightly and brings them together without overdoing it.

A final toss with toasted sunflower seeds adds a delightfully nutty crunch for a slaw that stands up to make-ahead treatment for a summer gathering, and it stands out as a truly desirable side dish.

Red cabbage and fennel slaw with sunflower seeds

⅓ cup unsalted, hulled sunflower seeds

¼ cup walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 cups shredded red cabbage

1 medium fennel bulb, halved, cored and thinly sliced (4 cups)

1 large carrot, shredded (1 cup)

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

Toast the sunflower seeds in a dry skillet over medium high heat, stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Cool completely.

Whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper in a liquid measuring cup, to form an emulsified dressing.

Toss together the cabbage, fennel, carrot and onion in a mixing bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Toss in the sunflower seeds just before serving.

Makes 8 servings (about 6 cups). Nutrition per serving: 130 calories, 3 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, no cholesterol, 115 milligrams sodium, 3 grams dietary fiber, 7 grams sugar.

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