Kale Caesar salads are a staple in the vegan recipe repertoire and can be varied in so many ways. This vegan kale Caesar salad is topped with spiced chickpeas instead of the traditional croutons and is enveloped in an easy creamy dressing.
While there are several steps in this recipe, they’re all easy and this hearty cold dish is ready quickly. What results is an inexpensive, nourishing, and satisfying salad to use as a main dish or to serve as a side.
In plant-based versions, Kale Caesar salad is pretty different from the traditional recipe for Caesar salad, which uses mainly romaine lettuce and bread croutons. The dressing involves eggs and anchovies, which of course, you won’t find in this update, better-for-you interpretation!
What kind of kale? I prefer lacinato kale for this salad, but use curly green kale if that’s what you like best or what’s readily available.
What to serve with this salad: For a light meal, this can be a main dish salad served with fresh bread (a whole-grain sourdough is fantastic with this) and a fruity dessert like Stovetop Apple and Blueberry Crumble.
Why you need to massage raw kale
Massaging kale is an important step to take when using kale raw — otherwise it might feel like you’re chewing lawn. To get the most enjoyment from raw kale, massaging it is a must!
There’s not much to this process; simply rub a small amount of olive oil (or another salad dressing, if using) onto your palms and massage the kale leaves for 30 to 60 seconds, until they turn bright green and soften. For more, see How to Massage Kale (and a Few Delicious Kale Salad Ideas). And if you’re a fan of this versatile leafy green, you’ll find lots more kale recipes here.
Skillet roasted chickpeas are so good, and a fantastic substitute for the bread croutons traditionally used in caesar salads. See more ideas for Pan-Roasted Chickpeas.
Recipe is from Vegan on a Budget by Nava Atlas. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 1 teaspoon olive or other vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon barbecue seasoning (see Note)
Dressing (or use a bottled vegan ranch)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt-free seasoning blend (like Mrs. Dash)
- 6 to 8 kale leaves, lacinato or curly green stemmed and sliced (see note)
- 1 medium head romaine lettuce
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into narrow strips
- Spiced chickpeas: Combine all the ingredients except the barbecue seasoning in a medium skillet with the chickpeas. Cook for 8 or so minutes over medium-high heat, or until nicely glazed. Stir often.
- Add the barbecue seasoning and cook for 2 to 4 minutes longer, or until lightly browned. Remove from the heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
- Dressing: Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and stir together.
- Salad: Put the stemmed and sliced kale in a serving bowl. Rub a small amount of olive oil onto your palms and massage the kale leaves for 30 to 60 seconds, until they turn bright green and soften.
- Slice the romaine crosswise into ribbons. Add to the kale in the bowl along with the bell pepper. Pour the dressing over the kale mixture and stir until everything is evenly coated.
- To serve: Distribute some of the kale salad to individual bowls or plates and top each serving with some of the chickpeas. Or, arrange the kale salad on a serving platter, top with the chickpeas, and let everyone serve themselves.
Barbecue seasoning is available in the spice section of most supermarkets. Varieties include smokehouse maple, mesquite, chipotle, and there are lots of others. Discover your favorites and keep a couple on hand.
Here are more delicious vegan salads and sides.