Broccoli slaw is a form of coleslaw made with broccoli, instead of the more traditional cabbage. Broccoli and cabbage are actually very close relatives, so the flavor of broccoli and cabbage slaws is very similar, although the substitution results in a more nutritious slaw with a slightly spicier flavor than that of a slaw made with cabbage. As an added bonus, broccoli appears to be less prone to inducing flatulence than cabbage, for people who have experienced undesirable gastrointestinal effects after consuming raw cabbage.
Dishes similar to coleslaw have been made in Europe since at least the third century BCE, using shredded cabbage and limited numbers of other ingredients like onions, carrots, and so forth in a tangy sauce. Modern coleslaw is often made with a mayonnaise-based sauce, although the traditional sauce was a vinaigrette, and some cooks like to make slaws with Asian-style dressings featuring sesame oil, soil sauce, brown sugar, and rice vinegar.
Slaw is commonly used as a side dish, especially with fried food. It is often chilled before consumption, making it into a very refreshing dish, especially in the summer. Slaws are eaten all over the world, and they are a popular potluck dish, since making a large bowl of slaw is very easy, and slaw tends to be crowd-pleaser, especially when people use unusual ingredients or an old family recipe.
Broccoli slaw is made by shredding raw broccoli, including the stems and leafy tops, tossing it with a dressing, and adding in any other desired ingredients. For example, a broccoli slaw recipe could include broccoli, crispy noodle pieces, cashews, and green onions in an Asian-style dressing, or it could be made with broccoli, carrots, and a creamy mayonnaise dressing for a more traditional take on slaw. Some other additives which can appear in broccoli slaw include: dried cranberries, peanuts, sunflower seeds, apple slices, raisins, and shredded meat such as chicken.
For best results, broccoli slaw should be eaten fresh. It can grow soggy and mushy if it is allowed to sit too long in dressing, and in the case of a mayonnaise-based dressing, it is important to keep the slaw refrigerated, and to add an acid such as lemon or lime juice to reduce bacterial growth. For a variation on the rich mayonnaise dressing, it is possible to use yogurt if a creamy dressing is desired, or to mix a creamy vinaigrette with olive oil, vinegar, and a soft cheese such as blue cheese or goat cheese.