This coleslaw is a taco night must-have.
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Padma Lakshmi on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / Todd Williamson/NBC

There are always those magical restaurant meals that we want to recreate in our own kitchens—no wonder we're obsessed with restaurant copycat recipes that make our favorites a little healthier. And based on this new recipe from Padma Lakshmi, we aren't alone in wanting to bring restaurant-quality dishes into our homes. Her healthy twist on smoky chipotle coleslaw is inspired by an old favorite. 

"There used to be this little place, it's closed now, on Avenue B and 3rd Street that Littlehands [her daughter, Krishna] and I used to always go to, and it was called Snack Dragon," Lakshmi says in the video. "They had the best tacos, and they had this really spicy coleslaw that I loved. So this is just created from a taste memory I have from when Krishna was a toddler."

To whip up this fresh and fiery slaw, you'll need red cabbage, shredded carrots, a Granny Smith apple, limes, mayonnaise, plain yogurt, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, fresh mint leaves, salt and pepper. To start, finely shred four cups of red cabbage—if you'd like, you can salt and drain the shreds to get rid of excess water, but Lakshmi says it's not necessary—and chop your apple into matchsticks. Toss the apple slices with lime juice in a small bowl to keep them from turning brown. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage with two cups of shredded carrots and toss to combine. Then add the apple slices and toss again.

Then add equal amounts of mayo and plain yogurt to the bowl. (Lakshmi suggests starting with two tablespoons of each, though she notes she doesn't enjoy her coleslaw "very mayonnaise-y.") Toss the ingredients together until everything is coated in the yogurt-mayo dressing. Then add in two or three chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped, plus some ground black pepper. You'll also want to add "a lot" of the spicy adobo sauce. Toss again to combine.

For a final touch of "herbaceous freshness," sprinkle in a quarter cup of fresh mint leaves, ripping them into smaller pieces as you go. Drizzle in about a tablespoon of fresh lime juice and toss again until everything is distributed. Add salt to taste.

If you're looking for a way to cut the dairy from this recipe, Lakshmi suggests swapping the yogurt for a non-dairy yogurt of your choice—just try to keep in the mayo, if possible. "I do like the richness that a little bit of mayo gives it," Lakshmi says of using a mix of mayo and yogurt.

We're already dreaming up dinners to pair with this colorful side. Lakshmi suggests fried chicken or your favorite taco recipe, but especially steak or shrimp (a version of this recipe was originally published as part of Lakshmi's Shrimp Tacos with Spicy Slaw). We bet this would be perfect alongside our Chipotle Skirt Steak Tacos with Smoky Tomatillo Salsa or Picnic Oven-Fried Chicken. Luckily, Lakshmi says this slaw lasts in the fridge for a while, so you could even serve it up with multiple meals during the week.

Pair this slaw with another one of our restaurant copycat sides or easy mains for a homemade meal that tastes like the takeout you've been craving.