Asian slaw with sweet-hot almonds

Serves:
4 to 6    |   
Prep Time:
20 minutes    |   
Cook Time:
5 minutes (for almonds)

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asian slaw

This started as an idea for one of my Food Network shows, then I varied it for a recipe in Bon Appetit, then I simplified it to make this healthy salad. The key element is the maple-soy almonds, which are sweet-salty and addictive. So good, they make a great appetizer on their own.

ingredients

almonds
1 tablespoon butter
3/4 cup whole, slivered, or sliced almonds
kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
pinch cayenne, optional

slaw
1 pound Napa cabbage, shredded (about 8 cups)
1 large red bell pepper (about 8 oz), stem, seeds and ribs removed
2 green onions, thinly sliced, including tops
1/4 cup each loosely packed cilantro and fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 lime, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
6 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

directions

Make the almonds: line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and set it alongside your stove. In a nonstick frying pan, melt the butter. Add the almonds and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat, until almonds start to toast (about 1 minute). Pour in soy sauce and maple syrup and, if you want them spicy, the pinch of cayenne if. Keep stirring until the mixture looks bubbly and thickened and smells almost caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and spread nuts on parchment-lined pan to separate them. Set aside until cool; they will be a bit sticky. (Almonds an be made  in advance; store in a sealed container at room temperature for up to a day or transfer to a plastic bag and freeze for up to a month.)

Make slaw: place the shredded cabbage in a large salad bowl. Cut bell pepper into very thin strips and add to cabbage along with green onions and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, soy sauce and oil, then pour over cabbage slaw and toss well. Add almonds and toss again. Serve right away or let stand up to 30 minutes; the slaw gets juicier as it stands.