Yes, you read that right: kaleslaw. Not coleslaw (which is somehow not called cabbageslaw. Hmm.). No gloppy mayonnaise, no pale green cabbage, no (for the love all things holy) raisins (Who’s brilliant idea was that anyway? Dear Person Who Thought Raisins in Coleslaw was a Brilliant Plan: We need to have a chat.). Just thin strips of bright green kale, crunchy carrots and radishes, toasted peanuts and sesame, all tied together with a bright, slightly sweet and just-a-hint spicy Asian dressing.
I know, I know: this is basically just a raw kale salad. Which were all the rage last year: just like me to be right on the cutting edge. But, I’ve got to tell you: I see a lot of those raw kale salads, with huge chunks of curly kale, barely misted with a touch of dressing, and I think, “Ew.” Kale is not lettuce, my friends. It is tougher, chewier, springier: there’s a reason you can toss kale into a soup or stew and it holds up fine, while lettuce would quickly fall apart. So, while I am all for not turning on the stove in the face of impending temperature-doom, kale, she needs a little help. It just doesn’t have to come in the form of heat: a good dressing will do the job.
While I mostly tossed this quick slaw together as a way to use up some of the never-ending supply of kale in the fridge, I found it surprisingly delicious, either at room temperature, after a minimal ‘wilting time’ in the dressing, or the next day, cool from the fridge, kale further softened yet still crisp and bright. Knife skills are key to this simple dish: the kale needs careful chiffonade-ing (cue Escoffier rolling over in his grave), so the pieces will wilt easily and evenly under the dressing. The julienned carrots and sliced radishes add visual interest and crunch, but again: large chunks don’t seem to work here. So sharpen those knives and put in a little quality time at the counter: once you have this crisp, cool, Asian salad to pull out of the fridge in the midst of the dreaded heatwave, you’ll be happy for the effort. Enjoy - and stay cool!
- 1 bunch (about 8 oz) kale, preferably a soft-leafed variety like lacinato or dinosaur, washed and shaken dry
- 1/4 cup raw peanuts
- 1/4 cup sesame seeds
- 1 medium carrot, julienned
- 3 – 6 radishes, scrubbed, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce (I use low-sodium)
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp maple syrup
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- Remove the stem ends from the kale. Stack 4 or 5 leaves on top of each other: slice lengthwise, along the stem, and stack each half. Roll tightly into a cigar shape, then thinly slice (chiffonade) the leaves crosswise. Transfer to a large bowl and repeat until all kale is sliced.
- Combine dressing ingredients in a jar or bowl: shake or whisk vigoroulsy until well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings or proportions. Pour over kale, tossing to coat well. Prep the remaining vegetables and add to the bowl.
- Toast the peanuts and sesame seeds in a large dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and just begining to brown, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add to the kale and toss several times. Allow to rest, tossing now & then, until kale wilts slightly under the dressing, about 15 minutes or longer. Serve at room temperature or cold from the fridge.
Serves 6 as a side.
- Later in the summer, when young kale starts arriving for the Fall season, I might make this with julienned red bell pepper, slivered celery, and a bit of fresh chile pepper for heat.
- Daikon would make a nice substitute for the radish, if you can find it.
- Fresh ginger wouldn’t be amiss.
This slaw stores nicely for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator; the kale softens further and the carrots and radishes keep their crunch.
Spring or Fall.