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Festive Mexican Cabbage Salad

This, weirdly, is one of my favorite recipes. Not only was the outcome fantastic, but the way it came about was also perfect. Inspiration struck in the store.

See, this recipe was developed in Mexico and intended for the holiday table. This meant it needed to be festive, but also spot-on tasty, tied to the holidays and made from stuff I can easily find at the local grocery store. When I went shopping... I had no idea what that might be!

As I was swirling around the produce department, trying to suppress my desire to add bacon to everything, I quickly fixated on the cabbage. Cabbage is one of the big-time additions to the Taco Bar in my town. So, cabbage. Check! The purple stuff is extra beautiful and bright. Let’s go with the red cabbage.

I also recently made a giant batch of Cochinita Pibil and had some extra pickled onions at home, also super bright and festive. This one is slowly starting to take shape!

Then, I spotted pomegranates. I haven’t plucked a pomegranate in years, but I love the taste. The color and texture would make it a lovely addition to a salad. Plus, all the little sweetly tart bursts would be a welcome surprise in near any recipe. Finally, a famous dish called Chiles en Nogada is popular during the Autumn months in Mexico. This dish is also on just about every winter holiday menu I see. This tasty yum is essentially a seasoned ground meat stuffed poblano chile, topped with a white walnut sauce. This is then garnished with pomegranates and cilantro. Here’s my holiday connection.

Oh and cilantro! Great taste and such zazzy blasts of green!

Ok, we’re almost there. Now, I just need something crunchy and a dressing. What about pepitas? What’s more Fall than pumpkins. Crunchy salty dried punkin' seeds? Perfect...

Finally, crema. Crema is everywhere in Mexico. Crema is Spanish for “Cream”, but it’s actually it's own specific product. It's like a less tart, but gamier sour cream. If you can’t find true Mexican Crema, some unsweetened/full fat Greek yoghurt or sour cream will do quite nicely.

Top with some queso fresco and you have a Magic Mexican Holiday Salad. Happy Holidays!
Prep Time20 mins
Total Time20 mins
Servings: 16 Servings
Calories: 209.371875kcal
Author: DJ Foodie


  • 1 small orange
  • 2 each fresh limes
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 4-inch pomegranate
  • 1 small bunch cilantro washed and dried
  • 1 medium head red cabbage
  • 2 cups Mexican crema (or sour cream)
  • 1 lb queso fresco crumbled (or goats' cheese)
  • 1/2 cup dried salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Note: These first steps pickling the onion is best done the day before, but it’s fine if done fresh.
  • Zest the orange and chop about 1 tsp of orange zest. Add this to a medium sized mixing bowl.
  • Juice the orange, as well as the limes. Add to the orange zest.
  • Peel and very thinly slice the red onion. Add the red onion to the citrus bowl. Add some salt and pepper. Mix the onions in the citrus juice and seasoning, to evenly coat the onion strands. Cover the bowl and place it in the refrigerator. Every once in a while, mix the onions. The idea is to macerate and pickle the onions. The more they’re tossed and exposed to the juices, the better.
  • Cut the pomegranate in half and pick out the individual seed gems. Set aside.
  • Wash, dry and remove the large stems from the cilantro. Some of the fine stems are fine, but we’re largely looking for the lovely leaves. Set aside.
  • Slice/shred the red cabbage into very thin slices. Place this into a large bowl.
  • Add about half of the cilantro to the large bowl.
  • Add the pickled onions to the large bowl, juices and all. Add a bit more salt and pepper, then toss the cabbage with the seasonings and onions.
  • From here, you can either divide the cabbage across several plates or bowls, then garnish each individual bowl, or you can garnish the large bowl and place in the center of a holiday table. Either way, the garnish is the same.
  • Top with crema, then fresh crumbled cheese. Sprinkle the pepitas over the top, then the remaining cilantro. Finally, sprinkle the pomegranates over the top. Serve!
  • Final Note: Some may want to make this in advance. This is a beautiful salad when assembled fresh, but the purple and red colors are very strong and will bleed into the crema within a few minutes, especially if the crema is mixed in with the cabbage. It would be better to prepare the ingredients, in advance, but keep the stored separately. Assemble the actual salad at the last minute for optimal visual POW.
  • Enjoy!


Serving: 16g | Calories: 209.371875kcal | Carbohydrates: 11.921875g | Protein: 10.003125g | Fat: 14.48875g | Fiber: 2.65375g