Mexican food is as much a staple at our dinner table as any other cuisine on the globe. Mind you, it’s not always straight-up conventional. You’re just as likely to find collard greens on our tacos as carnitas. And I squirt sriracha on everything — a condiment that hails from Southeast Asia, not south-of-the-border.

I’ve learned that good Mexican ingredients — corn tortillas, cotija, crema, cilantro, guacamole, tender black and pinto beans, and pico de gallo — can be happily traditional or deliciously jacked up through creativity and thrift into something altogether new. The one commonality for whatever Mexican food I put on the table, though, is my Everyday Mexican Slaw.

This staple slaw serves two purposes:

1) Makes a satisfying, crunchy, fresh counterpoint to the likes of tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and other Mexican flavors.  

2) Adds a generous dose of nutrient-packed cabbage, carrots, and peppers to plates that are often lacking much in the way of vegetables. Consider the side dish standards at a typical Mexican restaurant: a sad little tangle of shredded iceberg lettuce, a spoonful of guacamole, or if you’re lucky, a crock of spicy pickles.  Adding a mound of this colorful slaw balances out the plate. 

Here are a few favorite ways to enjoy it:

Straight up

Serve it in a pretty bowl along with rice, beans, tortillas, or whatever Mexican main is on the table.

In Tacos

Cram as much of this slaw as will fit into these Crispy Avocado Tacos in lieu of Romaine lettuce. Delicious. (I’m also jonesing to try it with these beer battered fish tacos from Cooking Light). 

On Tostadas

Layer warm beans, shredded cheese, a spoonful sour cream, and a bundle of slaw on top of a crisp tostada.

In Main Dish Salads

Add grilled chicken and toasted pepitas to this slaw, toss well, and serve as a center-of-the-plate salad.

For more excellent Mexican sides, check out this Street Corn Salad  or these Slow Cooker Pinto Beans.

Everyday Mexican slaw
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Everyday Mexican Slaw with Cilantro and Lime

Feel free to tinker with the amount of lime, cilantro, scallions, and jalapeno to suit your palate. The salad is terrific as soon as it's made, and arguably even better the next day. Store it covered in the refrigerator where it will keep well for several days.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 of a red or green cabbage (see notes)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (about 2 medium to large carrots)
  • 1 red bell pepper , thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions , thinly sliced white and light green parts only
  • 1/3 roughly chopped cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (2 to 3 juicy limes)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons minced jalapeno (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Finely shred the cabbage as you would for coleslaw. Add the remaining ingredients and toss well. Refrigerate until ready to eat and toss again just before serving.

Recipe Notes

For extra color, use 1/4 of a red cabbage and 1/4 of a green cabbage. Reserve leftover cabbage for another use.