Obsession in the Making: Raw Kale Salad in Creamy Garlic Dressing

Lately I’ve had something of a raw kale obsession.  Perhaps it’s my longing for spring and the smells of freshly cut grass that have me chopping kale into bite-sized chunks, massaging it until it looks good and relaxed (kale gets so stressed out), and then dressing it with my Creamy Garlic Dressing.  I find myself making it in larger and larger portions with leftovers in mind.

It goes well with almost any favorite salad additions – olives, avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers, carrots, celery, red onions, oranges, raisins…  But the best part is the kale – rich with chlorophyll – sunshine in leaf form.  Each bite takes me to warmer days ahead.

The dressing reminds me of a creamy garlic dressing that was popular at a Des Moines restaurant called Gino’s but without the cholesterol since my dressing owes its thick creaminess to the magician-like qualities of raw cashews.

One bite of this kale might create an obsession in you as well.  Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Raw Kale Salad in Creamy Garlic Dressing

Serves 2-4

  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup water (plus additional water for soaking cashews)
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium tamari
  • 1 heaping Tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch curly kale
  • Any favorite raw vegetables, chopped (for the kale salad)

Cover raw cashews in water and let them soak while you chop the kale and salad ingredients.  (The longer the cashews soak, the creamier the dressing will be.  Soaking for a few hours is ideal, but not a deal-breaker.)  Pull the kale leaves from the center rib, and roughly chop the leaves.  Move the chopped leaves to a bowl and massage them for a couple of minutes until the kale takes on the appearance of steamed kale.

To make the dressing: blend cashews, ¼ cup water, lemon juice, tamari, cilantro, and garlic in blender until creamy.  (If you’re making the dressing ahead of time, store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to five days.  The dressing will thicken over time.) Toss the kale with dressing until the leaves are evenly coated and then add whatever fruits and vegetables you like.

Alteration ideas:  Raw garlic is much stronger than cooked garlic, and so feel free to reduce the recipe to one clove if you’d prefer.  You can also adjust whatever herbs (or combination of herbs) you’d like.  Just substitute your favorite herb for cilantro.  Some ideas include dill, parsley, oregano, thyme, or basil.  This dressing is also wonderful on spinach and romaine salads or as a garlicky dip for carrot and celery sticks, cauliflower, and broccoli florets.

16 thoughts on “Obsession in the Making: Raw Kale Salad in Creamy Garlic Dressing

  1. Your creamy garlic dressing has my stomach growling as I sit here at work waiting for the whistle to blow and I can go home! Kale salads go so well with a creamy-style dressing.

    • Thanks, Rosanne! You’re right that kale and creamy dressings go together beautifully. Kale can be fibrous and bitter, but it is deliciously tamed with a creamy dressing.

  2. Pingback: Daily Ingredient: Garlic | juicygreenaura

  3. loved the dressing…was not as creamy as I expected and I had a tough time blending it, just too dry I guess. I turned the blender down to low and just let it go and that seemed to work. I loved the flavors and loved the raw garlic!

    • I’m glad that you loved the dressing! That’s too bad that it wasn’t as creamy as you expected. Some blenders have an easier time than others at emulsifying the cashews. Here are a few tricks you could try:

      1. Soak the cashews longer – for 8 hours or overnight. The longer the cashews soak, the easier they are to blend.

      2. Don’t soak the cashews. Instead, put them in a clean coffee grinder and grind them until they become cashew flour. Move them to the blender and make the dressing as directed.

      3. Use cashew butter instead. I often use nut butters for sauces, and it will give you the same creamy consistency but without the blender difficulties. I don’t know the exact amount of cashew butter you’d need for this recipe, but I’d start with 2 or 3 Tablespoons and add extra as needed.

      Good luck! Let me know how it goes! :)

  4. I made this today and it was so delicious! I’ll definitely keep this in regular rotation. I’m always looking for new ways to use cashew cream and what better way than over yummy kale?!! :-)

  5. I started soaking cashews this morning, unsure what I was goin to use them for. I will be making this dressing tonight! :)

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