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Kale Slaw With Hazelnuts and Charred Onions

Try this fresh, light kale slaw recipe with toasted hazelnuts and charred onions over a simple chicken breast or salmon for a healthy, low-cal and tasty meal. Or toss it with ravioli or tofu for a vegetarian version.

This recipe is a unique twist on the typical kale slaw with a simple tangy dressing. Great flavors, a bit of jazz and just 30 minutes or less to make.

kale slaw topping a sliced cooked chicken breast.

I found the ravioli version online in 101 Cookbooks and loved the great combination of flavors and textures.

With a few small tweaks, I decided to use it as a topping for a simple baked chicken breast for a healthy, lighter meal option.  

Needless to say, you can also use the kale slaw as a side dish for pretty much any protein. 

What to expect

This simple salad is a flavor bomb of crunchy toasted hazelnuts, soft sweet onions with some charred and caramelized bits, zesty lemon and of course the bright green kale packed with protein, fiber and vitamins.

Delicious, pretty and nutritious – not bad!

Ingredients – tailored to your taste

kale, lemon, hazelnuts, onion, garlic, seasonings, oil, chicken breasts.

Kale: You’ll want to buy fresh kale. You can sometimes find it prewashed and chopped.

  • Substitutions: If you’re not a fan of kale, try Swiss chard (green, red or rainbow chard) or baby spinach instead.

Nuts: Hazelnuts have a delicious distinct flavor and add extra crunch to the slaw.

  • Substitutions: You can use other kinds of toasted nuts like almonds, macadamia, walnuts or pecans. Or use pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or pine nuts.

Onions: I use sweet onions. Red onion and yellow onion work too.

  • Alternative: Instead of sautéing the onions try our grilled charred onions.

Garnish options: Parmesan cheese or chopped green onions always works well. Dried cranberries, diced fresh mango, peaches or pear or chopped grapes are great options to give a sweet note to your crunchy kale salad.

Step by step instructions

charring onions in a skillet.
Sauté onions until browned and a bit charred/caramelized.
hazelnuts on foil lined pan for toasting.
Toast the hazelnuts.
kale and lemon zest in bowl.
Remove the tough ribs from the kale and chop the leafy parts with a sharp knife into bite sized pieces. Add to a large bowl.
kale slaw with onions and hazelnuts in a bowl.
Add the dressing ingredients, caramelized onions and chopped, toasted hazelnuts and toss with the chopped kale.
kale slaw topping a sliced cooked chicken breast on a plate.
Serve over a sliced chicken breast, baked salmon.
kale slaw tossed with ravioli in a bowl.
For a vegetarian version, boil fresh store-bought ravioli for a few minutes, then toss with the slaw.

Tips

  1. Toasting nuts boosts flavor and adds crunch. Here’s an article on how to toast nuts in the microwave, stove top or oven. I prefer toasting nuts in a dry pan on the stove top as it’s easier to cook the nuts evenly, it’s quick and you are right there to make sure they don’t burn. See recipe notes for all 3 methods.
  2. To dry kale: The curly kale leaves can hang on to moisture when they’re washed. Use a salad spinner to make sure they are really dry before adding the other ingredients. If you don’t have one, pat dry with a paper towel or tea towel.

Recipe FAQs

Is kale healthy?

It sure is…Kale is a very nutrient dense vegetable, rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin K, and beta-carotene. According to this article on Healthline.com. “Many powerful antioxidants are found in kale, including quercetin and kaempferol, which have numerous beneficial effects on health.”

Is it necessary to massage kale?

It’s not required but it is recommended. Massaging the kale is an easy way to make the leaves tender. It will still be a crunchy slaw but will be a bit more tender and easier to eat.

What’s the difference between slaw and coleslaw?

While both are types of salad, the main difference is that coleslaw is made with raw red cabbage, purple cabbage, napa cabbage or bok choy. Slaw typically features other crunchy veggies in place of cabbage, including kale chopped or shredded broccoli.

What to serve with kale slaw

As a topping or condiment, kale slaw pairs well with marinated grilled chicken, grilled pork chops, pork tenderloin and salmon stuffed with ricotta.

As a healthy side dish, the slaw goes with any protein or pasta to make a complete meal. Here are a few good options:

We have instructions in the recipe card for cooking a chicken breast and salmon if you need.

Shortcuts

  • Buy pre-washed kale leaves with ribs removed.
  • Serving the kale slaw tossed with store-bought ravioli is quicker than making a chicken breast. You can also just toss it with chopped rotisserie chicken.

Make Ahead

  • Make the slaw several hours ahead and add the nuts before serving. In fact, it’s good to let the flavors meld for at least 15 minutes.
  • You can also prep all the ingredients up to a couple of days ahead and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. Then, just assemble half hour before serving.
kale slaw topping a sliced cooked chicken breast.

If you like this recipe, please leave a 5 star rating 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟in the recipe card below. And if you REALLY like it, consider a review in the comments. Thanks very much!

kale slaw topping a sliced cooked chicken breast.
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Kale Slaw With Hazelnuts and Charred Onions

Try this fresh, light kale slaw with toasted hazelnuts and charred onions over a simple chicken breast or salmon for a healthy, low-cal and tasty meal. Or toss it with ravioli or tofu for a vegetarian version.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Servings: 2 good size portions

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-large onion, thinly sliced
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup kale, packed
  • 1/2 lemon, (zest and 1 tablespoon juice)
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, shelled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Optional garnish and add-ins

  • freshly grated Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, dried cranberries, chopped green onion, diced fresh mango, peaches or pear.

Instructions

  • SAUTÉ ONIONS: Heat oil in skillet to medium high. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 8-10 minutes, stirring regularly until browned and a bit charred/caramelized. Alternatively char onions on the grill.
  • TOAST HAZELNUTS: Stovetop method – While onions are cooking, place hazelnuts in single layer in a skillet. Heat on medium for 5-8 minutes, shaking regularly to prevent burning. When fragrant, they are done. Note 1 for other toasting methods. Let cool for a few minutes then rub nuts between hands to remove skins. It's fine if some skin does not come off. Roughly chop nuts.
  • ASSEMBLE SLAW: Wash kale and pat dry. Remove large ribs. Roughly chop into small pieces. Place in a big bowl with a pinch of salt. Massage kale for 15-20 seconds to soften. Add lemon juice, oil, caramelized onions and chopped hazelnuts. Toss all together. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  • FINISH AND SERVE: Add any optional garnishes or add-ins you like. Use as a topping for cooked chicken breast, salmon or ravioli (Note 2 for cooking instructions). Or cut cooked protein into chunks and toss with kale slaw. Or serve as a side dish.

Recipe Notes

  1. Other methods to toast hazelnuts: Microwave method: Toast nuts in a microwave on high for about a minute (tossed with 1/2 tsp oil for every 1 cup nuts). If not lightly browned and smelling good yet, add extra time in small increments. Oven method: Heat oven to 350F/177C. Place nuts on a pan in single layer and toast for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Shake pan half way through for even roasting. 
  2. What to serve with kale slaw – with cooking instructions:
    • Boneless chicken breast: pound breast to even thickness. Season well. Place in 450F/232C oven for 12-16 minutes depending on thickness to a temperature of 160F/71C. Rest 5 minutes (temp will rise). Alternatively, grill breasts. Or sous vide them at 144F/62C for 90-120 minutes. Shortcut: use chopped rotisserie chicken or tofu. 
    • Salmon: Drizzle oil on salmon fillets. Season well with salt and pepper. Top with chopped green onions. Bake in 425F/218C oven for 10 minutes per inch (2.5 cm) of thickness. 
    • Ravioli: Buy ready-made uncooked ravioli. Cook for a few minutes according to package directions. Toss with kale slaw. 
  3. Make Ahead: Make the slaw several hours ahead and add the nuts before serving. In fact, it’s good to let the flavors meld for at least 15 minutes. You can also prep all the ingredients up to a couple of days ahead and keep them in an airtight container in the fridge. Then, just assemble half hour before serving
     
    Nutrition value estimates do not include optional garnishes. 

    Nutrition

    Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Sodium: 602mg | Potassium: 336mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 3353IU | Vitamin C: 39mg | Calcium: 123mg | Iron: 2mg
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