The Infamous Community Dinner Cabbage Salad | Food | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Infamous Community Dinner Cabbage Salad

The goal is to keep costs as low as possible without sacrificing quality

Food is the great equalizer — no matter your religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or economic status, we all have to feed ourselves! That’s why food is a great tool for bringing people together.

At my house, we celebrate every Monday with an event called Community Dinner — a free vegetarian meal I’ve been hosting for five years. Our goal is to keep costs as low as possible without sacrificing quality, so my team brainstorms ways to cook creatively. Our menu changes weekly, rarely repeating, but one veg-heavy staple we rotate in is a flavorful cabbage salad.

Looking for a dish to bring to a potluck or one to last all week in the fridge? Here’s your answer. We alter our cabbage salads to fit our theme for the week, so this is a non-traditional, build-your-own recipe. Mold this dish to work with any flavor combination. If you aren’t feeding the masses, start with a half a cabbage and adjust amounts accordingly.

Start with:

1 cabbage, quartered, cored, sliced thin

Fillers (pick 2 or more):

  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 2 apples, sliced thin
  • 2 bell peppers, sliced thin
  • 2 cucumbers, sliced thin
  • 1 red onion, sliced thin
  • 2 mangoes, peeled, cut into chunks

Choose your toppings:

  • A bunch (or less) of fresh herbs, chopped (cilantro, dill, scallions)
  • 1 cup nuts, sliced (almonds, peanuts, cashews)
  • ¼ cup seeds (sesame, pepitas, chia)

Build a dressing:

  • ½ cup your favorite oil
  • ¼ cup your favorite vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. dried herbs and spices (thyme, cumin, paprika)
  • 1-4 tbsp. flavorings (soy sauce, lime juice, sriracha, mustard, maple syrup)
  • ¼ cup yogurt or (vegan) mayo for creaminess
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Pick a theme (All-American picnic, Asian-inspired, Mexican-inspired, etc.). Prep appropriate veggies and combine in a giant bowl. Add toppings and mix thoroughly. Make enough dressing for about 1 cup of liquid. Toss to coat evenly. Salad keeps for up to a week. Serves 20.

Julia Baker is the founder of Community Dinner and a co-organizer of Open House PGH. She holds a master’s degree in food studies from Chatham University and has been involved in many food and agriculture projects around the city.

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