Asian kale salad with peanut dressing is a vegan slaw with nutritious veggies, fresh herbs, and beans dressed with creamy 4-ingredient peanut dressing and Chinese 5-spice toasted almonds.
We include this recipe in our selection of hearty salad recipes, which means it's delicious as a side dish with all the nutrients and satisfaction for a mighty fine main dish in one massive bowl.
Why You'll Love this Recipe
If this is your first time using raw kale, we’ve got a simple trick of massaging it that will transform you from skeptic to kale lover in minutes.
Fiber, vitamin C, and protein – this satisfying Asian kale slaw has it all!
Our signature Chinese 5 spice almonds are crunchy, gooey, and so delicious you'll struggle to get them on the salad without eating the entire bowl.
Ingredients, Notes, and Substitutions
Cabbage. Any cabbage can be used for this recipe. I used green cabbage, but purple cabbage will add a vibrant color. You can also use a prepared slaw bag with red cabbage and grated carrot that you can find in grocery stores.
Kale. Dark green, curly kale is most common, and you can often find it conveniently shredded or chopped. For a naturally softer, less chewy kale, consider baby kale. Dinosaur kale, also known as Italian or Tuscan kale, has smaller leaves that are easier to handle. They are all options, including anything you're growing in your garden or find at the farmer's market.
Adzuki beans. They look like small, firm black beans (which make a great substitute). Use 1 regular can of Adzuki beans or 1 ½ cooked cups if you make them from dry. Edamame could also be used.
Fresh chili. Because we love extra spice, I added 2 small red chilis, deseeded and diced. You can also use a small jalapeno or add half a chopped red bell pepper or a small, long salad of red pepper. If you want spice without chilis, consider adding a pinch of cayenne pepper or red chili flakes to the dressing.
Scallions. Also known as green onions, they have a more mellow flavor than red onions, but you can substitute with them or consider ¼ cup of shallots.
Soy sauce. Stick with traditional dark soy sauce or light soy sauce for less sodium. Coconut aminos or Tamari are great gluten-free options.
Almonds. Use raw almonds, not the roasted kind that has oil and salt. I like skin-on almonds for the extra fiber, but you could use blanched almonds (the white kind). Walnuts are a good substitute.
Peanut butter. Smooth peanut butter makes the creamiest dressing. Almond butter is a good substitute, but you could also use sunflower seed butter. Turn this into a tahini dressing by replacing the peanut butter with the same amount of good-quality tahini.
Please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post for the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions.
Step 1: Mix maple syrup, soy sauce, and Chinese 5-spice powder in a small bowl, then add the almonds. Bake the almonds for 15-18 minutes until they are gooey and crunchy.
Step 2: Whisk the dressing ingredients.
Step 3: Place the kale in a large salad bowl. Massage the kale with half the dressing. Let it sit for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Mix in the rest of the salad ingredients, the almonds, and the rest of the dressing.
You can add a variety of other veggies to compliment the Asian flavors of this yummy salad, including cucumber, snap peas, mung bean sprouts, pea pods, or water chestnuts (to name a few).
If you want something a little sweeter, consider mandarin oranges or even tiny cubes of pineapple.
Finally, if you want to skip the beans, consider crispy tofu cubes (air fry or baked) as a source of plant-based protein.
Store leftover salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Although kale and cabbage can be stored for a few days with dressing, this salad is better the next day. This is especially true if you add cucumbers or cherry tomatoes.
Prep this salad for multiple lunches by massaging the kale with half the dressing and storing it in the fridge. Then make your individual portions when needed by adding veggies, a few almonds, and a bit of leftover peanut dressing. The kale will last dressed for 4 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Five spice powder is an aromatic combination of equal amounts of ground star anise, cloves, fennel seeds, and cinnamon with the fifth spice of either black pepper or Sichuan peppercorns. Check the labels if you are not a fan of Sichuan pepper.
Toasted sunflower seeds or pepitas are crunchy options to replace nuts in salads. Sesame seeds are delicious with Asian peanut dressing, as are hulled hemp seeds.
Massaging kale in a flavorful dressing is the best way to soften it and remove the bitter flavor. Chop or shred the kale into smaller pieces to merge with other tastes in your salad or recipe. Finally, lightly steaming or sauteing kale will reduce the bitterness. It's like the difference between eating raw or steamed broccoli.
More Asian-inspired recipes
Asian Kale Salad with Peanut Dressing (Vegan)
Asian kale salad with peanut dressing is a spicy-sweet vegan kale slaw with creamy peanut dressing and crunchy 5-spice toasted almonds.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 18 minutes
- Total Time: 43 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Hearty Salads
- Method: Chop / Bake
- Cuisine: Asian
- Diet: Vegan
5 spice Almonds
- ½ cup roughly chopped almonds
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons Chinese 5-spice blend
- 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter or almond butter
- 4 cups chopped fresh kale
- 2 cups shredded or chopped cabbage
- 1 medium carrot, grated or diced small
- 1 - 2 red chilis, diced or sliced
- 1 ½ cups Adzuki or black beans (15-ounce can)
- ¼ cup roughly chopped mint leaves
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup scallions (green onions) thinly sliced
- Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C) to make the almonds. Combine the maple syrup, soy sauce, and 5 spice blend in a small bowl, then add the almonds. Cover the almonds with the seasoning.
- Pour the almonds into a small glass baking dish or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the almonds for 16-18 minutes, stirring a few times until they are crunchy and the liquid is absorbed. They will dry out further when they cool.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small bowl or shake them in a jar with a lid. Mix until smooth and set aside.
- Place the kale in a large bowl and add half the dressing. Use a hand to gently massage the kale for 1-2 minutes until it softens.
- Add the other salad ingredients (cabbage, carrots, chilis, beans, mint, cilantro, and scallions. Then add the almonds and the remaining dressing. Mix well.
- Massaging raw kale with dressing softens it and reduces bitterness.
- Although skin-on almonds are more nutritious (they have more fiber), blanched (skinless) almonds can also be used. Walnuts can also be substituted.
- Store leftover salad in an airtight container in the fridge. It will keep for 3 days but is better if eaten the next day.
Keywords: Asian kale salad with peanut dressing, vegan
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