Kale Slaw

kale slaw

You're going to think this sounds crazy -- "My kids won't even eat kale cooked," you might be saying to yourself -- but that's the point exactly. Usually I sauté kale with lots of garlic and salt and olive oil, and my kids like it fine that way. But this fresh salad? They eat it with their fingers and really like it. Besides, this bright salad takes about 4 seconds to put together, it's super sweet and fresh tasting, you need way less kale than you would for cooking it, and it is like a beacon of healthfulness shining through the fog of holiday pie and gravy.

As long as it's fresh, you can use any kind of kale: curly green kale, purple kale (which is what I used here), or dinosaur kale, which is the kind that has kind of warty-looking, spear-shaped, super-dark leaves. I have used and liked them all.

Total time: 5 minutes
Yield: 4 servings


    4-6 very large leaves of kale, washed and spun dry
    1 garlic clove, peeled and pressed through a garlic press
    1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from around half a lemon)
    1-2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
    freshly grated parmesan (optional)
    a handful of coarsely chopped walnuts (around 1/3 of a cup), toasted at 350 for 5 minutes (optional)


  1. Strip the ruffly leaves off the kale's stems by grasping the bottom of each stem and pulling your hand up it forcefully. That sounds all wrong, but you'll see. It's easy. Or else simply cut the leaves off the stems with a knife. Discard the stems.
  2. Now stack and bunch the leaves together, then use a large, very sharp knife to sliver them.
  3. Stir together the garlic, lemon, oil, and salt in a large bowl, then add the kale and toss. Taste it, and add more lemon, oil, or salt as needed to make the flavors bright and balanced.
  4. Toss in the cheese and walnuts and serve as a side dish or salad course.

Recipe Tip: The kale has to be very fresh; you have to sliver it very fine; and you have to make sure it's lemony and garlicky and salty enough. The walnuts and parmesan are nice but not crucial additions. You can leave them out and just eat the kale.

Read more about Catherine making Kale Slaw with her family.

See more recipes from Catherine Newman at her "Dalai Mama Dishes" blog.

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