Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Tangy Cabbage Salad and Seed Crackers - a pair of #recipes from @LeslieBudewitz

LESLIE BUDEWITZ: We love a good hearty salad that lasts for days. Whether it includes a protein, making it a “meal salad,” or simply pairs neatly with one on the side, it’s a boon for busy summer days. 

I spotted this recipe in a review of “Good Enough: A Cookbook: Embracing the Joys of Imperfection & Practicing Self-Care in the Kitchen,” by Leanne Brown. Brown says we’re often too hard on ourselves, thinking if we haven’t put a fabulous meal on the table every night that we’re not good cooks. We understand, she says, that cooking and feeding ourselves are healing, but often feel like we miss the mark. We aren’t comfortable with “good enough.”

Me, I’m not always looking for fabulous. Sometimes I want hearty or tasty or easy, but I always want dinner to be worth eating. “Good enough”? Maybe so. This salad is easy and tasty, and we liked the dressing a lot. I’d made my list and bought the ingredients, but didn’t remember until I went to make it that we’d run out of sriracha and I hadn’t replaced it because we didn’t use it often. The alternative listed was “sambel oelek.” What on earth was that? What about the jar of chili paste we’d bought for Cold Sesame Noodles and still had in the fridge. Guess what? Chili paste IS “sambel oelek.”

You may think the dressing will be too hot or peppery for you; I made the dressing at least an hour before we used it and thought “oh, that’s sparky.” It mellowed a LOT, developing a richer flavor rather than heat. That said, you can certainly leave the chili paste out if you know that’s not a flavor you enjoy. 

The salad lasts for several days, making it great for lunches. I do suggest that you only dress the amount of salad you plan to eat right away and stash the leftover dressing in a sealed jar, so your salad doesn’t get too soggy. 

The seed crackers are easy and great fun. The 90 minute baking time raised my eyebrows, so I timed it carefully, and for us, 80 minutes was just right; the crackers firm up and dry out as they cool. The original recipe (as written below) includes salt but we couldn't taste it; next time, we’ll dress them with flake salt when they come out of the oven. 

The “seedies” are a great compliment to the salad, which se served with grilled chicken, but they also go well on their own or with cheese, especially a soft, spreadable cheese.

Tangy Cabbage Salad 

Adapted from Good Enough: A Cookbook: Embracing the Joys of Imperfection and Practicing Self-Care in the Kitchen by Leanne Brown (Workman Publishing, 2022O


1/4 cup peanut butter (smooth or chunky) 

2-1/2 to 3 tablespoons lime juice 

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon sriracha or sambal oelek (chile paste), optional

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon hot water, or more as needed

Note: Best to avoid peanut butter with added salt or sugar; if yours is sweetened, taste the dressing before you add the honey to see if it needs extra sweetness. 


1 can (15 1/2 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1/2 small red cabbage, shredded or thinly sliced

1 English cucumber, cut in quarters or sixths and chopped

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, mint, or cilantro 

6 dates, pitted and finely chopped

1/4 cup salted peanuts, roughly chopped

Note: You can toast raw nuts with salt for about 10 minutes, then cool slightly and chop. 

Make the dressing: Place the peanut butter, lime juice, honey, sriracha or sambal oelek, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine, then drizzle in the olive oil, or use an immersion blender. 

Add 1 tablespoon hot water to thin dressing; add more if you’d like a thinner dressing or your peanut butter was particularly thick. Taste and adjust seasonings to your taste. 

Make the salad: In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, cabbage, cucumber, herbs, dates, and nuts. Toss to combine. Dress and toss if you plan to serve a crowd; otherwise, dress what you plan to eat shortly, and save the vegetables and dressing in separate containers in the refrigerator until your next meal! 

Serves six to eight. 

Seed Crackers

These mixed seed crackers are highly flexible; you can substitute almost any kind of chopped nuts for the pumpkin or sunflower seeds if you’d like. And if you’ve got a little less or a little more of one seed or another, go ahead and dump them all in!

4 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds

½ cup flax seeds 

½ cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds 

1/2 cup cornstarch 

1 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 tablespoons neutral oil (I used canola)

boiling water

flake salt for topping, optional

In a medium bowl, mix the seeds, cornstarch, and salt. Add oil and 3/4 cup boiling water. Stir well and set aside for 10 minutes. It will look like a goopy mess, but never fear—that corn starch will do its thing! 

Heat oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone sheet or parchment paper. Spread evenly; the cracker should come within an inch or so of the edge of the baking sheet. Bake 80-90 minutes, rotating the baking sheet midway. Lift the liner onto a cooling rack. Top with optional flake salt. Cool, then break into pieces.

Cool thoroughly, preferably overnight, before storing remaining “seedies” in a tightly sealed container. 

What's your favorite go-to summer salad? Bonus points if it came from the Mystery Lovers' Kitchen or one of our books! 

PEPPERMINT BARKED: A Spice Shop Mystery (coming July 19, 2022 from Seventh St. Books)

From the cover: 
A Dickens of a Christmas turns deadly…

As the holiday season lights up Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market, Pepper Reece’s beloved Spice Shop is brimming with cinnamon, nutmeg, and shoppers eager to stuff their stockings. Add to the mix a tasty staff competition—a peppermint bark-off—along with Victorian costumes for this year’s Dickensian Christmas theme, and Pepper almost forgets to be nervous about meeting her fisherman boyfriend’s brother for the first time.

But when a young woman working in her friend Vinny’s wine shop is brutally assaulted, costumed revelers and holiday cheer are the last things on Pepper’s mind. Who would want to hurt Beth? Or were they looking for Vinny instead?

The vicious attack upsets everyone at Pike Place, but none more than Pepper’s own employee, Matt Kemp. At first, Pepper is baffled by his reaction, but his clandestine connection to Beth could hold the key to the assailant’s motive. Or perhaps it’s Vinny’s ex-wife who knows more than she’s letting on . . . and what about the mysterious top-hatted man with whom Pepper saw Beth arguing that morning?

As the secrets of the market come to light, long-held grudges, family ties, and hidden plans only further obscure the truth. Is it a ghost of the past rattling its chains, or a contemporary Scrooge with more earthly motives? As Pepper chases down a killer, someone is chasing her, and in the end, the storied market itself may hold the final, deadly clue.

A cozy holiday mystery full of culinary delights and a rich cast of characters, the sixth installment in the Spice Shop Mystery series will keep you turning the page . . . and reaching for another piece of peppermint bark. 

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries, and the winner of Agatha Awards in three categories. Death al Dente, the first Food Lovers' Village Mystery, won Best First Novel in 2013, following her 2011 win in Best Nonfiction. Her first historical short story, "All God's Sparrows," won the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Peppermint Barked, her 6th Spice Shop mystery, will appear in July 2022, and Blind Faith, her second standalone suspense novel (written as Alicia Beckman), will release in October 2022. 

A past president of Sisters in Crime and a current board member of Mystery Writers of America, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat, an avid bird-watcher.

Swing by Leslie's website and join the mailing list for her seasonal newsletter. And join her on Facebook where she shares book news and giveaways from her writer friends, and talks about food, mysteries, and the things that inspire her.


  1. Looks yummy Leslie. I never would have thought of making seed crackers!

  2. Rhubarb salad and circus peanut salad are hits at my house.

  3. Rhubarb salad? Do tell! Our rhubarb usually goes in pies and crisps.

  4. These recipes that you have posted are keepers especially the dressing we make a mean potatoe salad that everyone asks if we would make for them and we told them if you give us just the money for the ingrediants we will and several people have. We also make a traditional cole slaw which stays good for days also but we are looking for something other than mayo as a dressing peggy clayton

  5. thank you for sharing this receipe

  6. LESLIE: Thanks for both recipes. Never tried using dates in a cabbage salad,.but I have all the ingredients to make this one. And I do have a similar seedy crackers recipe, I just don't make it very often.

    1. My pleasure! The dates were a fun taste surprise. BTW, we had extra dressing, so I added a little hot water, gave the jar a good shake, and finished it up on a regular green salad with yummy results!

  7. A fun combination of recipes!