Kale Slaw

Kale Slaw
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kale slaw
A super way to use a super-food!

On Wednesday, you saw that we picked up a bunch of red Russian kale as part of our CSA share. We thought that it’s so easy to fall into the rut of just steaming every green in sight, so we sought out a new way to use the kale. We didn’t really look through any books to find ideas; instead, we went with the idea that kale is part of the Brassica genus, and, in fact, it’s the same species as cabbage (both are varieties of B. oleracea).

We’re guessing that most of you don’t really start your menu with a bit of botanical research, but, in this case, we thought about using the kale in the same way as we might use cabbage, and the idea for kale slaw was born.

We have two basic recipes for slaw that we really like, and we modified one, Light Cole Slaw, for this side dish.

Serves 4.

Kale Slaw

Kale Slaw


  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp pickling spice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and stems removed
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 tsp celery seeds
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Abbreviated Instructions

In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the vinegar to a boil. Add pickling spice, turn off heat, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain vinegar and discard pickling spice. Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar. Set aside.

Shred or grate carrot. Slice kale as thinly as possible, then chop into small shreds.

In a medium bowl, combine kale, carrot, raisins, celery seeds, and vinegar mixture. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Let steep for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.


Ingredient discussion:

For this recipe, the type of vinegar doesn’t really matter, so we just use plain white vinegar that we pick up in a gallon jug. You could use a wine vinegar, but we think the flavor would get washed out  by the steeping of the pickling spice. That’s what really adds the flavor, so don’t omit that step. Now, we add celery seed and raisins to our slaw dishes because we think they add a nice touch. But, truly, they’re optional. The slaw will be good even if you omit either of them. Keep in mind that you don’t have to restrict your slaw to kale and cabbage; many cruciferous veggies will work here, too. Finally, we’re not sure as to the amount of pesticides used on kale; if you’re concerned, buy organic. We’re fortunate, because everything we get from the CSA is naturally grown without the use of pesticides.

Procedure in detail:

infusing vinegar
This is the key to our versions of slaw: steeping the pickling spice in vinegar to give it flavor. Lotsa flavor.

Infuse vinegar. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the vinegar to a boil, and add the pickling spice. Remove from heat and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain to remove spices. We just use a small tea strainer with a fine mesh. You could also use a coffee filter in a funnel, but, whatever you use, make sure to remove those spices. No one wants to bite down on a piece of bay leaf in their slaw.

vinegar and sugar
If you’re thinking that you can put the vinegar in a measuring cup and then add sugar until you reach the 1/2 cup mark, don’t do it. You’ll add too much sugar (there are air pockets around the crystals that get filled in with vinegar).

Add sugar. Stir the sugar into the vinegar until it dissolves. It might take a minute or two of stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved, but it’s worth this bit of extra effort, as it’ll prevent a clump of gritty sugar showing up in the dish.

kale and carrots
We work through the pile of greens and carrot with a chef’s knife. Chops and mixes in one, plus it’s easy to clean up.

Shred carrot and kale. When we don’t want to break out the grater — such as for a single carrot — we use a vegetable peeler and work all around the carrot, peeling off thin strips. Then we’ll pop them right on top of the de-stemmed kale leaves and go to town with a chef’s knife. In a few minutes, we have our kale and carrots chopped and mixed.

making slaw
Once you’ve chopped everything, mix it all up in a bowl, taste, and adjust with S&P.

Mix. Place the carrot and kale shreds in a medium bowl, add the raisins, the celery seeds, and the vinegar mixture. Mix thoroughly. Give it a taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Let everything meld for 10 to 15 minutes.

kale slaw
That’s it. Since kale is a super food, maybe we should call this dish super slaw.

Serve. Dish into bowls and enjoy.

Okay, it’s not Cole slaw. The kale has a much greener taste than cabbage, and it’s a bit tougher, too, but it’s close enough that, if you have your eyes closed, you’ll be pretty sure that you’re eating slaw made from cabbage. So, we think it’s a great way to use kale, and, with kale now considered a super-food (we always thought that it was pretty good), this is a good way to pack some of that nutrition into your body. Four stars.

Worth the trouble?

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