Kale and Cabbage Pad Thai Salad
Published Jul 26, 2023, Updated Jan 21, 2024
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This kale and cabbage pad thai salad has all the flavors of pad thai but in salad form! It’s loaded with fresh veggies and tossed in the most delicious peanut dressing. Vegan + gluten-free.
Whenever I’m shopping at Whole Foods I’m always tempted to grab something from the salad bar or prepared foods section for my next meal. Through this habit I’ve discovered quite a few salads from the Whole Foods bar that I absolutely LOVE.
The sweet and spicy kale pad thai is one of those salads! It has all the flavor of pad thai and an awesome crunch, but no noodles!
After purchasing this salad from the prepared foods section too many times to count, I decided I should probably try making my own version at home, which I’ve done with a couple other Whole Foods salads including the garlicky kale salad and the crackling cauliflower.
So, this kale and cabbage pad thai salad is my version of the Whole Foods kale pad Thai salad! And if I do say so myself, it might even be better than the Whole Foods version. It’s jam-packed with tons of fresh veggies, has plant-based protein from the chickpeas and is tossed in the most delicious peanut dressing. It’s seriously SO good!
A Healthier Pad Thai
Normal pad Thai is certainly tasty, but it’s pretty carb heavy. In this recipe we’re replacing the rice noodles with kale and cabbage for a veggie-loaded, fiber packed dish that you can feel good about loading on your plate. I don’t know about you, but I’m totally a volume eater so vegetable packed dishes like this are great. They allow me to eat a lot of food so I feel full and satisfied, but not stuffed or heavy.
All of the veggies included in the salad are tasty on their own, but what really makes this salad is the dressing. It has all the flavors you’d expect from a Thai peanut dressing, but I used liquid aminos in place of soy sauce and skipped the fish sauce, which is a usual suspect in Thai sauces. So this dressing is soy-free, gluten-free and vegan!
- green cabbage – fresh and crispy, cabbage forms the base of this salad, bringing a wealth of nutritional benefits including vitamin C and K.
- kale – I used a bunch of curly kale. This variety has a robust texture that holds up well in salads, and its curly edges are perfect for catching every drop of the delicious dressing. If you can’t find curly kale, lacinato or dinosaur kale would work too.
- shredded carrots – the sweetness of carrots provides a lovely contrast to the tangy dressing. You could shred them yourself, or to save time, pick up a bag of pre-shredded carrots from your grocery store.
- red onion – adds a slight zing to this salad.
- red bell pepper – provides some more crunch and color.
- fresh cilantro leaves – a must have for this salad (in my opinion) as it really brightens the flavors.
- chickpeas – using a can of chickpeas is a great way to add a dose of protein and fiber. Be sure to rinse and drain them before adding to the salad.
- pad thai dressing – the star of the show, IMO! This pad thai peanut dressing is creamy, delicious and packed with tons of flavor. Plus, it’s so easy to whip up. Just combine peanut butter, lime juice, tamari (or liquid aminos), water, maple syrup, sesame oil, sriracha, fresh ginger and garlic together in a small bowl or mason jar!
How to Make
Make dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl or glass jar. Stir or shake until combined and smooth. It might be hard to stir the peanut butter at first, which is why shaking might be your best bet.
Assemble salad: Make sure all your veggies are chopped into bite-size pieces and toss in a large bowl to combine. Add chickpeas and top with dressing. Mix until all ingredients are well coated, serve and enjoy!
If you don’t want to sitr or shake your dressing to combine, you can also add all of the dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth and creamy!
Substitutions & Notes
- Vegetables: You can modify the veggies according to your taste or based on what you have on hand. Consider using a mix of green and red cabbage for a colorful twist. Other vegetables like broccoli, snap peas or even thinly sliced Brussels sprouts would work well too.
- Protein: This salad recipe uses chickpeas as a plant-based protein, but feel free to substitute it with other proteins if you prefer. Tofu, edamame or even grilled chicken would be great additions if you want to amp up the protein content.
- Peanut butter: If you’re not a fan of peanut butter or have an allergy, you could replace it with almond butter or sunflower seed butter.
- Heat: The spiciness in this salad comes from the sriracha in the dressing. If you’re not into spicy foods, feel free to skip it. Though, if you love heat, add more sriracha or even some red chili flakes.
- Tamari/Liquid Aminos: These can be swapped with coconut aminos or low-sodium soy sauce if needed. Keep in mind, the flavor of the dressing might change slightly depending on what you use.
Tips for Success
- Properly prepare your greens: The key to a great salad is the texture of your greens. In this case, we’re using kale and cabbage. Make sure you thinly slice them to ensure they absorb the dressing well and are easy to eat.
- Massage your kale: Kale can be a bit tough raw. To soften it, spend a few minutes massaging your chopped kale with a little bit of olive oil. This will make it softer, less bitter, and generally more pleasant to eat raw.
- Don’t skimp on the dressing: The pad thai dressing brings this salad to life. It’s worth taking the time to mix it up well so all the flavors meld together. If it’s too thick, just add a little more water until you reach the desired consistency.
- Taste and adjust: Once you’ve combined your salad with the dressing, give it a taste. You might find you want a little more lime juice, sriracha or salt. Adjust the flavors to your liking.
- Let it sit: This is a salad that actually improves with a little time. Let it sit for about 10 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld together.
How to Store
This kale and cabbage pad thai salad keeps well and tastes even better the next day once the flavors have had a chance to meld together.
It will keep for about 3-4 days in the fridge. Just keep in mind, that if you’ve already added the dressing, the salad may soften over time. If you want it to stay crunchy, store the dressing separately and add just before serving.
More Salads to Try
- Blackened Chicken Cobb Salad
- Grilled Chicken Salad
- Garlicky Kale Salad
- Sweet Potato Kale and Quinoa Salad
- Cucumber and Bell Pepper Salad
- Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Be sure to check out my full collection of salad recipes on EBF!
Kale & Cabbage Pad Thai Salad
- ½ small head green cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch curly kale, thinly sliced
- 1 cup red onion, chopped
- 1 cup red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1-2 Tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Light Pad Thai Dressing
- ¼ cup natural peanut butter
- juice of 2 limes, about 4 Tablespoons
- 2 Tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, coconut aminos or low-sodium tamari
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- ½ Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon sriracha, or more depending on your taste
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- Combine all dressing ingredients in a glass jar. Stir or shake until combined and smooth. It might be hard to stir the peanut butter at first, which is why shaking might be your best bet.
- Make sure all your veggies are chopped into bite-size pieces and toss in a large bowl to combine.
- Add chickpeas and top with dressing. Mix until all ingredients are well coated, serve and enjoy!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.