One of my favorite David Attenborough films features bowerbirds, a.k.a. the "Casanovas of the bird kingdom." There are several species, but the males share a curious courtship behavior of building bowers, or large thatched structures, elaborately decorated with fanciful, brightly colored items such as beetle wings, red leaves or even fungi-covered deer dung that the males collect with OCD-like fervor to attract females. Often the males will stick to one color theme based on what they perceive the female will like best. The bigger and brighter, the better.
These little bowerbirds are on to something. They court with abandon. It's take it or leave it, 500 brightly colored shells or nothing, baby. There's something to be said for the bold statement.
I found myself seeing red - literally - as I went grocery shopping for the creation of a Valentine's Day-inspired dish called My Bloody Valentine Slaw. Like the diligent bowerbird, I rifled through the flora around me for ruby, jewel-toned winter produce. I filled my cart with pomegranates, blood oranges, bitter red radishes and earthy beets. The flesh of these fruits and veggies creates a wonderful palette of reds, flanked by pinks and purples. It's my version of a dozen red roses.
The name for the slaw comes from the use of blood oranges and oxblood beets. However, I thought about calling it "Slaw'ff the Beeten Path" because this isn't your typical coleslaw. The hues are richer, the flavors brighter. It's a great raw, vegan side.
My Bloody Valentine Slaw
- 1/2 head of red cabbage, shredded
- 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
- 3 blood oranges, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 small oxblood beet, shredded
- 4 red radishes, shredded
- 1 red onion, shredded
- 1/2-3/4 cup raspberry balsamic (I used Alessi white balsamic raspberry blush vinegar)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1-1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Whisk dressing ingredients together until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine shredded cabbage, beet, radishes and red onion; pour dressing over and mix. Gently mix in pomegranate seeds and chopped blood oranges until coated.
Best if chilled 8 hours before serving, or overnight.