Kale Slaw

Donna Hay’s kale slaw is an easy yet healthy salad that will make even the most avowed kale-haters think twice about their life choices. Add a superb tangy dressing, buttery pine nuts, and a little Parmesan and you’ve got a hit.

A white plate of kale slaw with shaved fennel and toasted pine nuts on top and a bowl of buttermilk dressing on the side.

This power kale slaw recipe has all the makings of a perfect salad. It’s got a crunchy bite and creamy texture and is packed with fresh greens and plenty of goodness. It’s my go-to salad for a quick weeknight meal or a weekend barbecue.–Donna Hay

LC Pampered Kale Note

If you’ve ever made any sort of raw kale salad or kale slaw recipe before, then you’ve probably been instructed to do something that may seem a little silly, and that’s to “massage” the kale leaves with olive oil. You may have scoffed at it, you may have ignored it, or you may have dutifully followed the recipe instructions while wondering, “What the heck?!” The massaging “relaxes” the kale leaves, rendering them not quite so stiff. It also makes the leaves sorta shiny. So there you go. Pampered kale.

☞ Contents

Kale Slaw

A white plate of kale slaw with shaved fennel and toasted pine nuts on top and a bowl of buttermilk dressing on the side.
This kale slaw is an easy, healthy salad made with kale, shaved fennel, toasted pine nuts, and a tangy lemon buttermilk dressing.

Prep 15 minutes
Total 15 minutes
4 servings
216 kcal
4 from 1 vote
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For the buttermilk dressing

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk (either low-fat or full-fat)
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest preferably organic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Generous pinch salt
  • Generous grind black pepper

For the kale slaw

  • 5 kale leaves stems removed and leaves massaged and very thinly sliced
  • 1 bulb fennel finely sliced using a mandolin
  • 5 Swiss chard or spinach leaves stems removed and leaves very thinly sliced
  • 2 ounces baby rocket (arugula) leaves
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts or slivered almonds toasted
  • 1/2 cup whole flat-leaf parsley leaves (optional)
  • 1/4 cup snipped chives (optional)


Make the buttermilk dressing

  • Mix all the ingredients and use immediately or cover and stash in the fridge for up to 3 days. Stir to recombine before using. You should have about 1 cup.

Assemble the kale slaw

  • Place the kale, fennel, chard or spinach, rocket (arugula), pine nuts, parsley (if using), and chives (if using) in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Drizzle with the dressing and again toss gently to coat.
  • Drizzle with as much buttermilk dressing as desired and toss gently to coat. Serve immediately or, if the kale still seems a touch too chewy, refrigerate the slaw for at least 20 minutes or so. You can refrigerate any leftovers for up to a few days without the slaw turning soggy.
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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 216kcal (11%)Carbohydrates: 19g (6%)Protein: 9g (18%)Fat: 14g (22%)Saturated Fat: 2g (13%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 5mg (2%)Sodium: 243mg (11%)Potassium: 1111mg (32%)Fiber: 4g (17%)Sugar: 4g (4%)Vitamin A: 12339IU (247%)Vitamin C: 133mg (161%)Calcium: 262mg (26%)Iron: 4mg (22%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Simple, simple, simple and so, so good for you! The buttermilk dressing is what really made me take notice here. I used low-fat buttermilk, so this is pretty calorie-conscious, and the buttermilk-lemon combo packs a lot of flavor punch. The freshly ground pepper adds a little kick. The kale slaw recipe didn’t specify the type of kale or how exactly to slice it (i.e. by hand, with a cheese grater, etc.). So here’s my interpretation: I used curly kale for the interesting texture and julienned the leaves with a knife. Before slicing, I “massaged” the leaves with olive oil for a couple reasons—first, it makes the green of the kale really pop, and I think it helps it stand up better to the dressing. The parsley and chives are fine, but I don’t think they’re an absolute necessity. Also, that’s a lot of parsley between the salad and the dressing, so you could probably just do one or the other. I do recommend the nuts (or perhaps even some pumpkin seeds) for crunch. Now for the buttermilk dressing, this is where the magic happens. Maybe it’s just me since lately I have been on a lemon juice and olive oil kick for my daily salad dressing, but I don’t think you can underestimate the flavor or simplicity of this dressing. Probably my favorite part of the salad is that I made it on Sunday afternoon (dressed but without the nuts or herbs) and ate it ALL week for lunch. It didn’t wilt, turn soggy or slimy, or smell funny. The fennel also mellows out over time, so if you aren’t the biggest fan of fennel, try it this way and see if you change your mind.

This turned out to be a great little kale slaw recipe. For raw kale salads, I prefer to use dinosaur kale, otherwise known as Lacinato or Tuscan kale. I find that it’s more tender and softens much more quickly then its ruffled cousin. In prepping the kale, I sliced out the stems and stacked all of the leaves on top of each other. Using a sharp knife, I made thin ribbon shreds starting from one end. I used baby spinach and used some local baby wild arugula. Once portioned out, I sort of gathered both the spinach and the arugula into a loose ball with my palms and gently tucked and rolled them into a cigar shape. In this way I was able to start cutting the spinach and arugula from one end into quick, thin shreds. I passed the trimmed fennel bulb over the mandolin to make paper-thin slices and combined all into a big bowl. I used a small mason jar with a lid to make quick work of emulsifying the dressing. Once blended, I added the dressing to the greens, both mixing and very briefly massaging with my hands. The slaw sat at room temperature for 20 minutes to soften. One strategy you might want to consider if using the curly variety of kale: once it’s shredded, keep the kale separate from the other greens and add half the dressing. Quickly massage the leaves, then let it rest for 30 minutes in the fridge. After the kale softens, you can the add the other ingredients and serve.

Originally published February 10, 2015


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