This red cabbage salad is a light and healthy side dish featuring seasonal produce that’s easy to find in the fall and winter. It’s full of tangy, crisp flavors and is quick and easy to throw together.
As soon as the cooler weather of fall sets in, kitchens fill with hearty, comforting dishes. But there are plenty of ways to make light and healthy recipes that use seasonal ingredients in those months too.
A lot of delicious vegetables and fruits in the fall and winter are easy to enjoy raw and fresh, like the ingredients in this red cabbage salad with apple, orange, and spinach. It highlights two seasonal vegetables and two fruits that combine to make a nutritious salad filled with texture and bright, tangy flavors.
What you’ll love about this recipe
- A base of spinach and red cabbage make this really healthy.
- It’s a beautiful blend of crisp, crunchy, and soft textures.
- A balance of sweet and sour flavors from the dressing and fruit make every bite tasty.
- It’s a 20-minute side dish that can lighten up a heavier fall or winter main.
Most of the ingredients are actually for a quick dressing that is easy to make with a jar and a lid. Then it’s just four simple ingredients to make your red cabbage and apple salad.
For the dressing you’ll simply combine all of these ingredients in a bowl or jar:
- Apple juice
- Orange juice – freshly squeezed or from a carton of 100% juice.
- Apple cider vinegar – this is tangy, but a little sweet still. White balsamic or champagne vinegar would be good substitutions.
- Olive oil
- Dijon mustard – yellow mustard can work in a pinch.
- Salt & black pepper
- Maple syrup – you can use honey also.
Once all that’s mixed together, you can move on to prepping these salad ingredients:
- Red cabbage – it’s a really great source of vitamin C, plus it’s inexpensive and adds great texture to your salad.
- Orange – peel and chop a fresh, sweet orange into cubes.
- Apple – you can use either sweet or tart apples, some delicious variety options are Granny smith, Gala, Fuji, or Honeycrisp.
- Baby spinach – a great source of iron and vegetable protein, plus the leafy texture is nice with the crunchy cabbage and crisp apples.
How to Handle Red Cabbage
This recipe is so easy to make, just shake all the dressing ingredients together, then assemble the rest in a bowl. But there are a few tips I wanted to share about prepping your red cabbage so it’s salad ready.
- Peel off the outer leaves. It’s cleaner to discard the leaves that were touching the grocery store shelves, plus they tend to be tough and wilted.
- Don’t use the core; it’s very fibrous and tough. In a red cabbage it’s the white hard spot that attaches the leaves to the stem at the base.
- Massage the cabbage for a few minutes with half the dressing, just like you would for the kale in my Cajun Chicken Salad. It helps it relax and absorb the flavors better.
- Let the cabbage sit for 10 minutes while you prep the apple and orange. Cabbage always benefits from any marinade it can get.
Once you have it prepped, your red cabbage salad is a snap to put together. It’s delicious served alongside pork, chicken, or sausage mains like any of these 21 ground pork recipes or my chicken scallopini with mushrooms.
I hope you enjoy this light and fresh side dish, but of course this isn’t the only cold weather salad I love. Check out some of my other seasonal favorites too!
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Salad
- Apple Fennel Salad with Walnuts
- Arugula, Prosciutto, and Grilled Pear Salad
- Grilled Eggplant Pomegranate Salad
Red Cabbage Salad with Apple, Orange, and Spinach
For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons apple juice
- 3 tablespoons orange juice
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
For the salad:
- 1 lb. (450g) red cabbage , cored and finely shredded
- 1 orange , peeled and chopped into cubes
- 1 apple , sliced into thin slices
- 4 oz. (100g) baby spinach
- Make the dressing by combining all the of dressing ingredients in a small jar with a lid. Cover and shake until mixed well.
- Place the red cabbage in a large bowl, pour half of the dressing over the shredded cabbage and massage it in with clean hands. Set aside for 10 minutes.
- Once cabbage is ready, add chopped orange, sliced apple and baby spinach. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and toss to coat. Serve immediately.