Lebanese Cabbage Slaw, Malfouf Salad
This is a seriously delicious Lebanese, no mayo cole slaw — one we can’t get enough of for its flavor, crunch, and super-duper healthy qualities!
While there are many great things to love about living back in Michigan where the extended Lebanese clan is . . . extensive . . . perhaps among greatest of these are the random acts of recipes. The Very Best Lebanese Recipes.
There is recipe talk among our people wherever, and whenever, we run into each other.
I ran into a beauty of a Lebanese relative several years back in the jewelry store (also run by Lebanese). We got to talking graybeh, and her method and ratio of ingredients. She makes the meltaway butter cookies whenever her family is together and they are the best, the very best. I tore out of there with the greatest gem a girl could want, that recipe, and it proved the perfect tweak to my own graybeh experiments.
Recently at a beloved’s funeral (all Lebanese), there was epic baklawa-talk. We make baklawa for the big events always. Our conversations parsed that pastry like there’s no tomorrow: the butter (cultured, I’ve discovered, rocks it), the brand of phyllo (these days I’m loyal to Athens), the coarseness of the nuts (not too fine), the oven temperature and baking time and how much syrup.
One fabulous cousin there told me her very young son is allergic to nuts, so she makes baklawa with seeds rather than the traditional nuts, so that he can eat it. Turned out pretty great, she said, “and now my family can eat the best.” Then her husband, in a totally separate conversation, told me the baklawa with seed filling is OUTGRAGEOUS, the BEST. His eyes bulged. So did mine.
Keep your own bulged eyes on the lookout out for it here; it’s a-coming down the line.
Out at the local florist here, owned by (surprise!) Lebanese, I nearly fell over when it was noted that the table there in the middle of the shop was from her late cousin’s apartment, and that cousin just happened to be my Sitto Sarah. When I called the florist-cousin up not too long ago to talk flowers, we ended talking recipes. “My husband makes a delicious malfouf salad,” she said.
Malfouf? “Well yes, that’s cabbage,” she said with surprise. I was thrown because I had really only considered malfouf in relation to stuffed rolls (must be a second generation thing). I had to get details, which of course weren’t hard to pry loose. It took me a host of details before I realilzed we were talking cole slaw, Lebanese-style. And my Lord if this slaw didn’t include every single favorite flavor-maker from the Lebanese pantry you could want.
I was told to make the malfouf based on what you have on hand, and the salad can be Standard, the salad can be Premium, or the salad can be The Best. But really, she said, you’re feeding your family, so you know it has to be:
Lebanese Slaw, Malfouf Salad
- 1 head white cabbage, thinly sliced
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced
- 1 small head purple cabbage, thinly sliced, or 1 small bag purple cabbage
- 4-5 colorful radishes, sliced thin
- 1 small red onion, sliced in thin half-moons
- Handful flat leaf parsley leaves, minced
- Handful mint leaves, minced
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons za'atar
- 2 teaspoons sumac
- 2 teaspoons crushed dried mint, or Mint Salt
- Pinch cayenne pepper
- Combine all of the salad vegetables except the herbs in a beautiful salad bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and lemon juice. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking continually. Add the za’atar, sumac, dried mint, and cayenne and stir to combine. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more salt and any other spices to taste.
- Finish the salad with the parsley and mint just before serving, giving it another stir.
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I'm so glad you're here! You'll find among these pages the fresh and classic Lebanese recipes we can't get enough of! My mission is to share my tried + true recipes -- and to help our Lebanese food-loving community keep these culinary traditions alive and on the table. What recipes are you looking for? Let me know!
Pray, why do we give a bow to the supermarket sales promotion types who call OUR cukes, our Mitta, “English(sic) cucumbers”? These are no more English than tea is English. Could we do that please? Do we all know what “Mitta” is? No. Do we all have the ability to find out what it is? Of course yes–you are reading this online, right?Mr. Google will help.
I’ve discovered that even the Mitta is thought of differently by different people here–small cucumbers, sometimes a different look altogether than the cucumbers we see in the grocery stores here.
This salad looks amazing. I cannot wait to try it.
For the other commenter, the name of the cucumber only distinguishes it between the long seedless ones and the short round seeded ones or the small pickling ones. It doesn’t mean they’re “English”, it is simply a variety, just as English Breakfast tea is a blend 🙂 Cucumbers are enjoyed in many many cuisines. I adore Lebanese cuisine but I would not know what mitta is although I do now, thanks! 🙂 I find it helpful to know which variety I should use in a recipe.
Love reading all the background family ,cousins etc stories – want to make everything! Brought your pita bread down to Florida to visit family Yea !they invited me for 10 days and made your pita chip recepie. The were all gonzo .. I gave you complete credit of course. ⭕❤❌
I love that Jill! Hugs to you and yours! YOU get the credit!
What kind of seeds does the cousin use in Bakklawa? Sesame?
Also, do you know any gluten free filo dough or any substitutes?
Rosie, I haven’t delved into the seed variations yet, but it’s a combo of pepitas, sunflower, and sesame. I’ll have to look into a substitute for phyllo–that’s a tough one!
Celebrating last Saturday night at a wonderful restaurant in Glendale and this salad was served! It was our favorite and now here it is! Can’t wait to make it! Thanks, Maureen:) Susan
The small cucumbers recently available at my coop here in Oregon are called “Persian” — and are different than the three listed by Ella. I’ve never seen this variety before and having just purchased them this morning, I have yet to have a taste. They are smooth and a bit lighter shade of green. Would this be the small cucumber you’ve mentioned, Maureen?
Thanks Anoel–I think the definition of the Mitta can vary, though in Lebanon it seems distinct. So it may include these but I think it’s different. The cucumber you describe is very popular and widely available now, the small Persian cucumbers. They are delicious!
Lucky me! Although I don’t have a drop of Lebanese blood. BUT your cousin Celine gifted me with all the spices from your store that this recipe calls for! Will def try. Love your site.
Becky, that makes me so happy! Thank you! You are an honorary Lebanese cousin!
Tell them, cucumbers are called mikta, or miktha and they are thin and sometimes scrawny Arab cucumbers, best pickled (you know the kind, Maureen). And, an English cucumber is different, with similar crunch and a darker, edible skin.
I am the “Cole Slaw Queen” of the family and always get asked bring one of my creations to our gatherings. I tire of the mayo based dressings so I am very excited to find this recipe. Mint, sumac and za’atar = manna from heaven!
Thank you for publishing this Lebanese cole slaw recipe, Maureen! I have food allergies that prevent me from using either mayo or vinegar and this I can do!
Wonderful Pam, such a great one!
We have found that the dressing’s flavor develops over the next 3 days of preparing it. We have omitted the herbs, onions and tomatoes and its still so good! We absolutely love this make ahead salad, thank you very much for sharing the recipe, Maureen!
I love that you love this salad as much as we do!! I’m making it weekly it seems, so healthy and delicious.
I really like coleslaw but absolutely loved this version. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.
That’s great April–me too, I can’t get enough of this slaw!! Seems like we are eating it weekly…
I made with everything I had on hand. Used dried mint and parsley. Will buy sumac and zatar on my next grocery trip. Taste great can’t wait to try it again tomorrow, because I will have mayo potato salad.
So delicious, thank you Margaret!
Soo Good it rocked the 4th cookout- everyone loved it!
Glad to hear it Anne!
Delicious and everyone loved it! Thank you for the recipe.
Used savoy cabbage and my own mint (growing in the garden)!
I’ll have to try this with savoy! Thanks Janet–
Oh my gosh… so good!!!! My family eats a lot of salad. This is our new favorite! I’m far away from anywhere that has Sumac, so the small amount I have is like gold to me. It’s perfect in this slaw. Thanks so much!
Sumac gold, for sure!! Thanks Tanya!
So fresh, delicious, and healthy! I loved it and can’t wait to make it again. All of your recipes look so good, I’ll be working through more of them.
Thank you, Andi–this one is a real favorite. Love to hear what else you make!
The juice of 2 lemons can vary quite a bit, small/large/juicy…etc.
Can you also give an estimate of quantity in cups or ounces?
Also some lemons are sweeter than others, does this make a difference?
Cathy, use large lemons because you can’t use too much lemon juice here! If your lemons are smaller, though, it’s not a problem. Vinaigrette, unlike in baking, does not need exacting measurements. One lemon is about 3 tablespoons of juice. Taste the vinaigrette and adjust if you’d like more or less acidity (to adjust down, add more oil). I call for standard lemons unless otherwise stated; the sweeter lemons are Meyer lemons and not used unless specified in the recipe.
My dear, you need to repost this recipe!