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Tilapia-Noodle Slaw and Some Family History

By April 8, 2010April 20th, 2011Family, Food, Kitchen, Recipes, Salads, Sides

Definitely one of my more unique concoctions, I derived it from a vaguely-remembered family picnic in the ’80s. I’m from a HUGE German-Catholic family on my mother’s side. Both my Grandma (now deceased) and Grandpa have lived in the same 10-mile radius their whole lives, and their families have resided in the county since the 1850’s, before Minnesota was even formalized as a state. Stories like that are unheard of these days. The area was so rural that my Grandma, despite having been born a citizen long after the family settled in the state, grew up speaking German, and conveniently used it when we were kids if she didn’t want us to know what she was saying.

(Above) A few of us after the Sellner family reunion of 2005. I think there are roughly 10-15 people missing from this picture of our immediate family.

My Grandma had 10 brothers and sisters, and  six children of her own. Her siblings also had large families so there are around 144 of my generation (“the grandchildren”). We are the masters of family reunion fare. Very few venues could even hold us, so my second (or third?) cousin built a barn with poured cement flour and electricity on “the family farm” which has been in our family since the 1870’s. We even have the deed to the land signed  by President Ulysses S. Grant.

For this salad, I combined what I remembered with one of my current go-to picnic recipes, Oriental Noodle Salad. I had cabbage slaw to use up (we use it in stir fries) and I thought this would be a light, flavorful cold salad to serve with dinner. Maybe I’ll make some kraut next time, any takers?


  • 3 cups noodles of your choice, uncooked
  • 2 tilapia fillets, cooked till it flakes with a fork
  • 3 cups cabbage, finely shredded (red or green)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups of canola oil (feel free to use EVOO in combination)
  • ¾ cup of balsamic vinegar (quality brand)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • Parmesan cheese (I like it on my noodles, it’s optional)


1. Cook tilapia fillets until fish can be flaked with fork. Cut into pieces.

2. Cook noodles as directed on package.

3. Mix noodles, tilapia, cabbage, celery and onion.

4. In a separate bowl, combine salt, pepper, canola oil/EVOO, balsamic vinegar and sugar

5. Mix noodle mixture with dressing and stir until salad is fully coated with dressing. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes before meal. Eat fresh, it doesn’t tend to keep overnight.

Neighbor Zach playing with his bull whip. Yes, bull whip. And he made it himself.

It was very good, and perfect for a warm spring evening when everyone is outside and you want to join them. The only I would do differently is add broccoli or an additional vegetable for a “girthier” salad. Hope you Enjoy!


  • Samantha says:

    I’m going to have to try this recipe soon! Do you know if tuna would work instead? I hate to veer off course for a family recipe, but I have lots of really good tuna on hand right now…canned variety, but it’s the best tuna I’ve ever eaten. Back to the recipe, what do you think?

  • Jessica says:

    I think canned tuna or salmon would taste great with it. It’s light enough that it doesn’t weigh the salad down. I think even canned chicken would be okay, but any non canned or seafood would probably be too heavy.

    I was also thinking after I wrote this that edamame beans would be amazing in it. So would the sliced almonds from the my asian salad. There really is no end to what you can do with it, that’s kinda how most of my recipes are, and it really makes it easy to save money and not go out and buy umpteen specific ingredients without which dishes would be crap.

  • I LOVE using tilapia in pastas and salads! This looks absolutely delicious – perfect for summer! 🙂

  • rita says:

    this looks and sounds delicious! however, 2 c. oil seems like a lot for only 3 oz. of noodles? just want to make sure there isn’t a typo, because i definitely would like to try this!

  • Jessica says:

    Thank you for catching my “blond” moment. I meant three cups.

  • Jessica says:

    ugh I can’t even spell blonde today. I need to lie down.