Celebrate the Fourth with revolutionary slaw

Entertaining

Entertaining: Salad made with ham, cheese and walnuts originates in France, but it'll be right at home with traditional July Fourth dishes.

June 25, 2000|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

This year for the Fourth of July, we'll be visiting a friend in Maine for a few days. Although we'll be house guests, I know I will help our hostess, a talented cook, prepare the meal for this holiday. I'm planning to bring a new recipe.

This particular creation, called Salade Auvergne or sometimes Salade Auvergnate, is one I enjoyed in France this past spring while living in Paris. Made with ingredients redolent of the Auvergne, a region in the central part of France, it includes sliced cabbage, ham and Emmenthaler or Gruyere cheese, all tossed in a vinaigrette dressing and combined with chopped walnuts and golden raisins. The salty cheese and ham are delectable paired with the sweet accent of the raisins, while the cabbage provides a crunchy note, as do the chopped nuts.

I liked this preparation, which I began to think of as French coleslaw, so well that I bought a packet of it at a local market one day, read the list of ingredients and then set out to create a similar version in my own kitchen.

This refreshing salad would make a fine accompaniment to all types of traditional July 4 entrees. For example, you could serve it with barbecued spareribs, with grilled chicken, with hamburgers or even with lobsters. Corn on the cob and sliced, ripe, summer tomatoes would be fine side dishes to serve with this French-style coleslaw.

The following recipe serves six but can be doubled easily for larger groups. And, since this salad is best when made several hours ahead so that the flavors have a chance to meld, there's no last-minute work.

Cabbage, Ham and Gruyere Salad With Walnuts

Serves 6

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium large cabbage, with attractive outer leaves

3/4 pound thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch thick) best-quality cooked ham

3/4 pound thinly sliced (about 1/8-inch thick) Gruyere or Emmenthaler cheese

3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

3/4 cup golden raisins

salt

1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Place vinegar and mustard in large nonreactive bowl and whisk together. Gradually whisk in oil. Set aside.

Remove attractive outer leaves from cabbage and save for garnish. Halve cabbage lengthwise and remove and discard core. Slice cabbage thinly to make 4 cups. (Save any extra cabbage for another use.)

Cut ham into strips about 1/4-inch-by-2-inches long. Cut cheese into strips same size.

Add cabbage, ham, cheese, walnuts and raisins to bowl with dressing and stir to coat well. Taste and season generously with salt. Refrigerate at least 2 hours to let flavors meld. (Salad can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Keep covered and refrigerated.)

When ready to serve, make border with reserved cabbage on serving platter or in large shallow bowl. Taste salad again and season with more salt, if needed. Stir in parsley. Mound salad on cabbage leaves.

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