This was a popular salad when I was growing up. The recipe supposedly comes from the legendary Weequahic Diner in Newark, New Jersey. The owners of the Weequahic, the Baumans, later operated the Claremont Diner in Verona. At both diners, complimentary bowls of this salad were offered to customers when they were first seated.
From the late thirties through the early sixties, the Weequahic Diner was a vital part of the scene in the Jewish section of Newark known as Weequahic. The Claremont stayed in business until fairly recently. After the original Verona location burned down in a fire, the diner was relocated to Clifton were it survived long enough to be featured in an episode of The Sopranos before being torn down to make way for an auto dealership.
Part of the appeal of the salad is this little bit of New Jersey lore. Mostly, though, my mom and her friends liked to serve this salad in the sixties and seventies because it was delicious, easy to make and kept extremely well.
My mother made this in large quantities. I’ve cut down the recipe a bit and adapted it to work with bagged coleslaw mix.
3 Tbl. sugar
6 Tbl. white vinegar
3 Tbl. oil
1 Tbl. water
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 English cucumber, sliced thinly (not peeled)
2 large carrots, sliced thinly
1 green pepper, sliced in thin strips
1 medium Vidalia onion, sliced thinly
1 bag coleslaw mix (14 ounces)
Combine everything in a large bowl (or large plastic bag), mixing until the everything is coated with the dressing and the cabbage collapses down a bit.
Warning: It won’t seem like enough dressing. My mother used to make with more dressing, which made it easier to coat all the ingredients. The problem was that when the salad had finished marinating and all the cabbage had collapsed down, there was way too much dressing.
The salad needs to marinate in the refrigerator for at least a day or so. Before serving, adjust the seasoning to taste.