Hearty and crisp, this crunchy kale salad with spicy peanut vinaigrette is the perfect balance of texture and flavor. The tender massaged kale, crunchy cabbage and crisp roasted peanuts pairs well with the creamy, zesty peanut vinaigrette.
Why I love this kale salad
Kale is a super versatile earthy green. It holds up well with dressings and won't wilt overnight in the fridge like more delicate greens. Kale also boasts an incredible dose of nutrients with high levels of vitamin K, vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and iron to name a few. It's loaded with antioxidants, and supports immune and bone health. Kale is also known to help lower cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
Kale: is a nutrient-rich superstar that adds vibrant color, bold flavor and a tender, chewy texture to your salad.
Green cabbage: adds crunch and a sweet, grassy flavor.
Cilantro and mint: brings bright, aromatic flavors to the dish.
Peanuts: are a good source of protein and healthy monounsaturated fats. They also add a welcome crunch.
Scallions: adds a very subtle onion flavor.
Toasted sesame oil: adds a boost of umami to the spicy peanut vinaigrette.
Avocado oil: is a nice neutral base for the dressing.
Rice vinegar: has a mild, slightly sweet flavor.
Tamari: adds umami flavor. Make sure it's gluten free.
Honey: adds a lovely hint of sweetness to tone down the stronger flavors.
Peanut butter: adds peanutty goodness to the dressing. Try my creamy homemade peanut butter for this recipe.
Garlic: adds a warm, earthy depth to the vinaigrette. This little gem is also packed with antioxidants that support immune function.
Cayenne pepper: adds just enough heat to elevate the dressing.
Neutral tasting oil - you can use avocado oil, refined coconut oil or light tasting olive oil for the salad. A flavored oil will alter the taste of the vinaigrette.
Rice vinegar - this can easily be swapped out for apple cider vinegar. White wine vinegar could also be used in a pinch.
Gluten free tamari - the tamari has a very similar taste to soy sauce. Aim for low sodium if you can. Coconut aminos works well in the recipe as well.
Fresh mint and cilantro - these herbs work really well in this recipe but feel free to add more mint in place of cilantro.
How to prepare kale
- Remove the rib: You always want to start by removing the leaves from the tough rib. Hold onto the bottom of the stem with one hand, and lightly wrap your other hand around the leaves at the base. Then pull your hand up to the tip while you strip the leaves off the stem. You can also fold the leaf in half, lengthwise, and slice out the exposed stem with a sharp knife. Reserve stems for another use like pesto, soups or stir fry.
- Slice or chop the kale: When cutting up your kale, you want to slice it into thin ribbons or chop into bite sized, manageable pieces.
- Wash and dry the kale: Toss and swish your leaves in a large bowl of cold water to remove any dirt. Spin in a salad spinner or lay out to dry on a clean kitchen towel.
- Massage the kale: As odd as it sounds, a nice little 3-5 minute massage with clean hands will soften up the tough leaves. A sprinkle of salt and a touch of oil is all you need to scrunch the leaves to a dark green fragrant bouquet.
How to store leftovers
Kale is super hardy and doesn't wilt easily. It's the one green that can be washed and prepped in advance. You can store the kale salad in the fridge for 3 days.
Crunchy Kale Salad with Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette
- 1 mason jar or small bowl
- 1 salad bowl
Spicy Peanut Vinaigrette:
- ⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon neutral tasting oil (like avocado oil or refined coconut oil)
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
- 1 tablespoon gluten free tamari (or coconut aminos)
- 1 teaspoon natural smooth peanut butter
- 2 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- ⅛-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 bunch (about 10oz) kale
- 1 ½ cup finely shredded green cabbage (¼ small cabbage head)
- ¾ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh mint (or extra mint if not using cilantro)
- 4 scallions, green parts only, chopped
- ¾ cup unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
- For the vinaigrette, add the ⅓ cup of neutral oil and the rest of the vinaigrette ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. You could also add the vinaigrette ingredients to a mason jar with a lid and shake, shake, shake.
- For the kale, wash, dry, remove stems and chop or slice thinly. In a large bowl, add kale, 1 tablespoon of neutral oil and a pinch of sea salt. With clean hands, massage the kale by repeatedly scrunching and releasing the kale for 3-5 minutes. This will break down the cell structure, relax the leaves and reduce the bitter taste.
- Add the cabbage, cilantro (if using), mint, scallions and chopped peanuts to the bowl of kale and toss together.
- Pour the vinaigrette into the salad and toss until salad is well coated. Serve..
- Massage with your hands with a tablespoon of oil and pinch of salt. This really helps to break up the cell wall and makes the kale much easier to eat and digest.
- Store in the fridge for 3 days.
Wow! I'm a 3rd-year college student right now and have been really wanting to step up my healthy eating and homemade meals. I made this one for my roommates and me last night and the bowl was pretty much scraped clean. There is so much flavour in the dressing and the roasted peanuts are a 10/10. I've always stayed away from kale because of its bitterness but after a few minutes of massaging, it was perfect! Completely got rid of all the chewy tough bitter parts. I will definitely be making this one again!
I'm so glad you enjoyed the kale salad. A little massaging definitely goes a long way to the perfect salad!