This non-traditional Caesar Salad is made with nutrient-rich kale, roasted chickpea "croutons," and a caesar dressing without anchovies, or raw eggs. With a few tweaks, this can be made vegan.
There is nothing traditional about this Kale Caesar Salad. Traditional is not what I do. I do enjoy the challenge of taking classic recipes and tailoring them towards special dietary needs, taste buds, food allergies, or just to give it a healthy twist. That's one of my superpowers.
Classic Caesar vs. Kale Caesar Salad
A traditional Caesar salad is typically made with romaine lettuce, shaved parmesan cheese, and bread croutons. Usually paired with a classic Caesar dressing made by mixing anchovies into a paste, garlic, olive oil, raw egg, dijon mustard, and a few other ingredients that will vary with each recipe.
This kale Caesar salad recipe uses nutrient-dense kale as a base. Kale is loaded with antioxidants and is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, making it one very healthy option. Feel free to use any kale variety available in your supermarket, or local farmers market. Some of the popular varieties are the most common curly kale, dark green Lacinato (also known as Dinosaur kale), and the purple-stemmed Red Russian kale. If you prefer a milder taste, try baby kale, or mix kale with romaine. Any kind will work, and when pressed on time, pick up a bag that's already washed, stemmed, and ready for use.
My version of this caesar salad is gluten-free as it uses roasted chickpeas instead of the traditional bread croutons. Make the chickpeas plain and simple, or spice them up with your favorite spices.
Now let's talk Caesar dressing. Whether you have an allergy to fish or eggs, or just don't like those ingredients, I'll show you how to make a Caesar dressing without anchovies and eggs, or make it vegan.
- Kale - any variety will work. To save time, pick up a prewashed and chopped bag of kale at the store.
- Chickpeas - spiced and roasted, here are steps on how to make chickpea croutons
- Parmesan Cheese - omit for a vegan option, and substitute with avocado. Or swap with vegan parmesan.
- Optional Ingredients - Add grilled chicken, shrimp, salmon, or boiled egg for extra protein. This juicy chicken breast is an excellent protein addition to the kale salad.
How to Make Chickpea Croutons
Aside from hummus, I like chickpeas roasted. Not only do they add a nice "crouton" crunch to salads, but they are also great on their own as a snack.
How to Spice Chickpeas
You can use many spice combinations; feel free to experiment and see which combos you prefer. I tend to rotate between these two flavor combinations:
- Garlic Powder
- Smoked Paprika
- Smoked Paprika
How to Roast Chickpeas
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- Using a colander or strainer, drain a container or can of chickpeas. I favor this carton of chickpeas over the cans. Rinse under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. It is okay if some of the skins from the chickpeas come apart; just remove them.
- In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with avocado oil, salt, and spices.
- Spread coated and spiced chickpeas onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast until golden and crispy, about 20 min.
Vegan Caesar Dressing
A flavorsome caesar dressing is creamy and has the right balance of salty, garlicky, and tangy flavors.
This Vegan Caesar dressing is:
Even though this caesar dressing does not use anchovies or raw eggs, the flavors are all there. Creamy from the Dijon mustard, salty from the capers, and balanced with lemon juice and zest.
For a dairy-free and vegan version, exclude Parmesan cheese. However, if you insist on that cheesy flavor, swap nutritional yeast for the Parmesan.
I like to make this vegan dressing using a Mason jar and an immersion blender, also known as a hand blender or a stick blender. This method is perfect for smaller portions and easy cleanup. Just place all the dressing ingredients into the jar and emulsify. Make sure the base of the jar is slightly wider than the head of the blender. Of course, you could also just use a blender, Vitamix, or make it in a bowl.
Another bonus of using a Mason jar is it's the perfect vessel for creating a salad in a jar and transporting it to work, school, or picnic. Plus, kale is ideal for the mason jar salad since kale leaves are dry and tough and will hold up better than romaine lettuce. To put it together, layer the jar with dressing on the bottom, followed by kale, roasted chickpea croutons, and any other toppings you would like to add, like avocado, a protein, and/or parmesan cheese. Lastly, you have a delicious salad to go!
While this salad is delicious on its own, you can take it to the next level by adding a protein source like pan-seared chicken breast, making it a filling lunch option. Adding a scoop of this healthy egg salad without mayo is another option. Alternatively, pair it with a pot of steamed mussels for a complete and satisfying meal.
Other recipes to try:
If you try this recipe, I would love to hear about it! Be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! And if you snapped some photos, tag and share them with me on Instagram.
Kale Caesar Salad with Chickpea Croutons
- 1 - (about 14oz) container chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 bunch kale, any variety, removed from stem and chopped
- ¼ - ½ cup shaved parmesan cheese, for a dairy free/vegan option - swap with vegan cheese or avocado
- Preheat the oven to 400F / 200C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Use a colander or strainer to drain all the water from the chickpeas. Rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towel or a towel (It is okay if some of the skin comes off from the chickpeas, just remove). In a bowl, toss chickpeas with avocado oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder and sea salt. Spread coated chickpeas onto a lined baking sheet. Roast for about 20 min or until golden and crispy.
- In a Mason jar or a bowl, add all the dressing ingredients. Use an immersion blender/ hand blender to puree and mix the dressing. (Alternatively, you can mix the dressing in a blender or Vitamix.)
- In a large bowl, toss chopped kale with dressing, enough to coat. Sprinkle with spiced and roasted chickpeas, and shaved Parmesan cheese. Serve extra dressing on the side.