Purple Cabbage and Shaved Asparagus Slaw with Cumin-Sesame Dressing

Cabbage is not one of those foods that makes you go, “Yes! I will eat a head of purple cabbage for dinner tonight!” I can see wanting to eat a bunch of beets, a whole tub of grapes, or a pound of See’s chocolates for dinner… but purple cabbage?

An oblique profile of two plates full of purple cabbage slaw. One is in the foreground on a green linen table setting and the other is in shallow focus in the background on a thick cutting board.
That’s okay. After trying this slaw, you will be stoked to eat a head of purple cabbage for dinner, and you’ll like it, too. You’ll even be inspired to go find asparagus of the appropriate diameter (by which I mean giant asparagus) so that you don’t have to stand there shaving the asparagus until the wee hours of the morning.

5 spears of asparagus laying on an acacia wood cutting board.

You’ll even toast your sesame seeds like a champ because toasted sesame seeds > untoasted sesame seeds in terms of tastiness (it’s simple math). Just remember to keep an eye on them because they’ll start to brown really quickly.

Closeup of a rectangular bowl of untoasted sesame seeds with a completed slaw in the background.

And then you’ll go and make this slaw and eat it for dinner tonight, dinner the next night, and breakfast the following morning, because it makes a ton and it’s totally okay to do that. I definitely did.

The snow peas add a bright flavor and added crunch, and the chickpeas provide some protein, always a must in vegetarian dishes.

A large bottle of sesame seed oil sitting on a wooden butcher block. A plate of purple cabbage slaw is in the background.
Speaking of sesame seeds, if you aren’t familiar with sesame oil already, now is the time. It’s a really great way to add some character to your stir-fries, dressings, and even soups. And it pairs so well with tangy rice vinegar.

Top-down view of a plate full of purple cabbage and asparagus slaw. It is sitting on a green linen cloth place mat. A rectangular bowl of sesame seeds is in the lower left corner and a portion of a second bowl of slaw is visible in the lower right corner.

I tend to use a lot of it, so I buy it in the large container shown above. But oil can go rancid quickly, especially if it isn’t stored properly – keep it away from heat sources and bright light!

If you aren’t sure about it just yet, it’s easy to find in smaller bottles as well. You’ll fill out the dressing with a bit of olive oil, which has a more neutral taste. Add some cumin and a few other ingredients, and it’s cabbage slaw go time!

If you like this recipe, we have another asparagus/bean salad: our black-eyed pea salad with asparagus and snow peas will be equally as satisfying and delicious.

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Top view of a plate of purple cabbage and shaved asparagus slaw.

Purple Cabbage and Shaved Asparagus Slaw with Cumin-Sesame Dressing

  • Author: Raquel Smith
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Servings 1x


An easy recipe for using up that head of purple cabbage! Snow peas, shaved asparagus, garbanzo beans, and toasted sesame seeds round it out and make it a filling meal. A flavorful cumin-sesame dressing pulls it all together.



For the Dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp agave syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp finely ground sea salt

For the Slaw:

  • 1 medium head purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bunch asparagus, shaved*
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped snow peas (about 4 handfuls of pea pods)
  • 1 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed well and drained
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds


  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup and mix well. Set aside.
  2. Prep your vegetables and combine them all in a large bowl. Add the garbanzo beans and pour the dressing over the top. Mix well until all of the ingredients are coated evenly with the dressing.
  3. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for about 1 hour.
  4. When just about ready to serve, place the sesame seeds in a small skillet. Turn heat to medium-high and toast, stirring constantly, until they just begin to brown. Remove from the skillet to a small plate.
  5. Plate slaw and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy with a whole grain on the side.


Asparagus is easier to shave and much less labor intensive when you use the giant asparagus, as shown in the photo above. I used 5 giant stalks and a razor-sharp vegetable peeler. But those super-thin spears are best when they’re in season, since they’re the most tender.

Cut the tips into one-inch pieces (no need to shave those!) and shave individually. Or try chopping the stalks into thirds, then feeding them through the top chute of your food processor along with chunks of cabbage and shaving both together using the shredding disc.

  • Prep Time: 13 mins
  • Cook Time: 2 mins
  • Category: Dinner

What about you? Do you have any slaw-making tips? Be sure to rate this recipe and let us know in the comments below!

For more crunchy slaw recipes, try these:

Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing different views of a purple cabbage and shaved asparagus coleslaw recipe.

Photos by Raquel Smith, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on June 9th, 2014. Last updated: August 22, 2021 at 11:21 am.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Raquel Smith

Raquel is a whole foods enthusiast, an avid mountain biker, and a dog lover. She works by day at Food Blogger Pro and formerly maintained her food blog "My California Roots" (now merged into Foodal).

1 thought on “Purple Cabbage and Shaved Asparagus Slaw with Cumin-Sesame Dressing”

  1. Serendipity: just got a head of purple cabbage yesterday! Now I know what to do with half of it!

    Have to say it again: I simply adore your blog!


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