Deborah Madison’s cookbooks are mainstays of any dedicated home cook’s kitchen library. Her wonderfully accessible, homey and nourishing fare is perfect for weekdays and dinner parties alike. This hearty, colorful cabbage salad with tofu crisps packs a Japanese togarashi crunch that works as well with the cabbage as it tastes straight from the bowl!

When I decided to revisit the peppered tofu crisps from my book This Can’t Be Tofu! I was surprised at how unnecessarily complicated they seemed. I decided do them far more simply, only using the Japanese spice mixture, togarashi, instead of pepper. People standing around the kitchen kept eating them, proving to me that, as promised, they can do service as a snack or an appetizer.

At the same time my little crisps were disappearing, I was thinking they’d make a good “crouton” for a warm red cabbage salad, only to find I had put just such a recipe in the same book. (We do forget these things!) But the salad, too, seemed unnecessarily complicated. I didn’t have the golden bell pepper or snow peas, so I just left them out and it was fine, although I know they make a bright and sweet addition. (They’re shown in the photo, and listed here in case you have them.) Instead, I added other ingredients that seemed essential and that I had on hand—lots of fresh ginger, more scallions and cilantro, and a mild red jalapeño-sized pepper. I simplified the dressing ingredients, too, taking away those that weren’t needed.

One reason for the changes, other than that it was winter and there were no snow peas and yellow peppers in season, is that the pantry ingredients we have now are better and different. Then I didn’t have the rich, good, unpasteurized soy sauce that I buy at my co-op, hence the miso to make up for the thinness of what we did have. Mirin—the real thing, that is—wasn’t a staple, hence the use of sugar and cheap balsamic vinegar. In addition, we didn’t have organic or GMO-free cornstarch as we do now. The changes I made resulted in a recipe that’s far easier to make and just as good, if not better.

Red cabbage makes a good winter salad, but I do think it tastes better if it’s cooked just enough to warm and wilt it, no more. The wilting brings up both the flavor and the color and tenderizes the cabbage a bit, too. Although I would always serve this with just that hint of warmth, I am also happy eating leftovers for lunch the next day, cold from the refrigerator.

On a cold January night, I served this salad for dinner, preceded by a winter squash soup and followed by sliced blood oranges for dessert. There was so much color and flavor. Who says winter vegetables are drab?

Reprinted with permission from In My Kitchen