Asian Cabbage Salad

I promise lots of posts this week with various recipes and pics from our housewarming, but this recipe was requested multiple times tonight with varying degrees of urgency, so it gets first attention. My mom and I first encountered this salad at a potluck. One of the guests showed up with four ziploc bags, and in a matter of minutes had a beautiful salad ready to go. Naturally, we went home and attempted to copy the fantastically sweet and tangy dressing for our own cabbage slaw. After a little tinkering, my we got it just right. Ever since then, it's been a family favorite. I've been known to devour this salad whenever it's in the fridge -- and that's pretty often, considering my mom always keeps around tupperwares of toasted "crunchies," dressing and the other ingredients. This will soon become a staple in your house -- and it's quick to prepare. I should add that this salad will welcome whatever you toss its way: yesterday, I had leftover chopped and spiced water chestnuts, carrots and fennel from some Asian dumplings I had made, so I added them to the salad and they worked quite nicely.

Asian Cabbage Salad
serves 6-8.

1 bag sliced cabbage or 2 small heads of cabbage, one green and one purple sliced thinly
2 scallions, washed and slivered
1 can mandarin oranges
1 avocado, sliced (optional)

1 bag instant ramen, broken up into small pieces
1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds or pine nuts
1/4 cup sesame seeds

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
several dashes sesame oil

1. Preheat over to 300 degrees. Put ramen noodles, nuts and sesame seeds onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 10-15 minutes, or until ramen are golden. Cool completely.

2. Toss all vegetables in a large salad bowl.

3. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk with a fork.

4. Toss together shortly before serving. Noodles will gradually get soggy, so the sooner served, the better.