Gesundheit, you say, because you’re a polite and considerate person. But you don’t need to, because curtido is not a sneeze, but a light, refreshing slaw originally made in El Salvador. At least, that’s what my tamale lady says, and I never question Pilar.
1 small or medium head of cabbage
2 medium-sized carrots
3 scallions, diced
2 tsp brown sugar
1/4 C lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 C water
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp fresh-ground pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
I discovered curtido thanks to aforementioned tamale-and-papusa-making exemplar about three years ago, and even though it seemed simple enough, I never considered making it on my own until a dinner party I hosted last year. And there’s a good reason NOT to make it unless you’re having some kind of celebration or gathering: the recipe calls for a head of cabbage. Shredded. That’s a LOT of cabbage. A serving of this is probably about 1/2 a cup, so you’re looking at approximately a thousand servings.
It is, however, definitely delicious, so I recommend having a gathering sooner rather than later to test it out! The first step is to chop up a head of cabbage—I use regular green cabbage, although purple could be fun—into thin strips, two to three inches long. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil and throw the cabbage in for about one good minute—make sure to stir it well so all the cabbage feels the heat. Drain using a pasta strainer or just it scoop into your bowl as soon as it’s done. Shred the carrots and toss them with the cabbage in a large bowl.
Now comes the hard part. Mix all the other ingredients together in a small bowl or a measuring cup, and then toss that with the cabbage mixture. Refrigerate for at least two hours and up to a day, and then serve! Bonuses to this slaw are that it contains NO MAYO (gross), it is an interesting but friendly variation of a dish that people are familiar with and won’t be afraid to try, and it’s good for you! And all you need are a fork, a knife, a pot, and two bowls. And good taste!
So carry on with your day. But the next time you have people over, remember curtido. Your guests will thank you.