Friday, December 23, 2011

Kale Coleslaw

The other day I blogged about a red lentil and quinoa dish which was accompanied by an emerald-green kale salad.  Knowing me, I probably said something lofty like "this is my favorite kale salad ever", but it's true.  It's simple, raw, and the dressing is salty, savory, and destined to top sturdy kale leaves.

I admit there's also a sentimental attachment to this recipe - it's the one I made for my food demo at school.  We picked recipes at random, and I was ever so pleased that I ended up with a kale recipe.  Seemed fitting, especially since I scored a button in Portland that says "Kale!" with a thumbs up.

Raw kale scares people, I get that.  It's this super-tough leaf that looks as though you'll need to chew fifty times just to break the thing down.  And then there's people who say that kale is boring (hi, Mike!), or who think it'll be this intensely bitter leaf like dandelion greens or something.

As most of us kale enthusiasts know, though, the leaves can be softened and moistened by a simple massage with a little oil and salt.  I also maintain that kale is best shredded finely, which yields the most tender bite possible.  This transforms the raw leaves into something palatable with only a whisper of bitterness - if kale were a fairy tale, it would totally be Cinderella, with the whole magical transformation thing.

As for kale being boring, you could say that about virtually any food.  Carrot sticks are kinda boring by themselves (though I still love 'em), but they're quite wonderful dunked in a good dip, or roasted in the oven with a little salt and maple syrup.  Salad greens are boring without a dressing, sauteed chard begs for some garlic and fresh lemon juice, and broccoli turns into an epic comfort food with the addition of a cheesy sauce. Kale just politely requests that you prepare it in an exciting manner.

Kale Coleslaw
Minor tweaks made to a Living Light recipe
Makes 4 fairly substantial side servings


1 bunch kale, destemmed and cut into thin ribbons (about 2 cups packed)
2 cups shredded cabbage (any kind)
2 tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely julienned

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons light miso paste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave (or sugar)
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste


1. Place the shredded kale in a large bowl and massage it with your hands for 30 seconds or so.  It'll turn a darker shade of green and begin to break down a little.  Add the cabbage, tomato and red onion and toss to combine.

2.  Make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine all dressing ingredients by whisking with a fork.  Pour the dressing over the kale mixture and toss it well to coat all of the veggies.  I like to get my (clean) hands in there and rub the dressing into the leaves a little.

Enjoy this salad immediately, or at least try not to let it sit any longer than a day - though it has never lasted that long between Logan and I.  So. Damn. Tasty.

This kale coleslaw goes great with pretty much anything, like the quinoa/red lentil dish mentioned earlier, or as an accompaniment to a meal of burgers and fries.  I've also been known to eat it as a meal unto itself, particularly when I was recipe testing for my school project.

Definitely not boring.

So without further ado, I'll catch up with you guys at Christmas with a little surprise. :)


  1. I really like kale, but have a hard time trying to figure out what to do with it. I have now gotten two great ideas today! Thanks :-)

  2. No prob! I used to be the same way, but by now it's just become a fridge staple for Logan and I. It's really great raw on sandwiches with avocado - the leaves don't even need to be massaged or wilted.