The Best Vegan Kale Caesar Salad
The Best Vegan Kale Caesar Salad- a healthier version of caesar salad made with superfood kale and a creamy tahini-based dressing. Topped with crispy chickpeas and homemade sourdough croutons, this salad is sure to be a hit!
Hey guys! I hope you had a nice 4th. We didn’t do much of anything because it rained for the bajillionth day in a row. I don’t know what the deal is but Georgia is majorly confused about the fact that it’s summer. Almost every day has been like a hot and humid version of Seattle in the winter. But with mosquitos. Fun.
While the weather was less than ideal I still made a celebratory meal that included BBQ tempeh sandwiches and this vegan kale caesar salad. Because every holiday is worth celebrating with good food no matter what the circumstances, am I right?
I know it might sound a little bold to call this kale caesar salad the best but you have to trust me when I say that it is, assuming you like creamy caesar dressings. This one definitely delivers but without all of the fuss of soaking and blending cashews.
The secret ingredient to getting that creamy consistency and tangy flavor is tahini blended with lemon juice, fresh garlic and a touch of Dijon mustard. So simple yet so unbelievably delicious. The recipe is another gem from Cookie and Kate’s new book Love Real Food. I tried it shortly after making the Greek Nachos and was so blown away that I couldn’t help but share it with you guys.
I only made a few modifications to her recipe by doubling the kale, using vegan cashew parmesan in place of real cheese, and adding avocado, tomatoes and crispy roasted chickpeas for a little extra oomph.
The most time consuming part of making it is prepping the kale. I like to rip the leaves away from the stems in bite size pieces then put them in the bowl of a salad spinner to soak with cold water. This step takes me a good 15 minutes so I’ll usually watch something on YouTube or listen to a podcast while I do it, and feed Lucy the stems as I go. She’s my little garbage disposal.
After I soak the kale I give it a good rinse then strain and spin dry. Like I mentioned before, it’s somewhat time consuming but that’s why I double the amount so that I get more bang for my buck…er, time.
I also chose to use twice the amount of kale so that I can massage the dressing into the kale for extra flavor. Kate suggests massaging it with salt and serving the dressing on top to keep it from getting soggy but I’ve found that leaving the oil out of the dressing and doubling the kale can help prevent that from happening. Less salt, less oil, more kale. Always a good thing in my book.
Between the kale, the crispy chickpeas and the sourdough croutons, there is plenty of protein and fiber to call this caesar salad a meal. If you’re looking for something lighter to serve as a side, you can also skip the extra toppings and serve as is.
Either way, it’s sure to be a hit. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
The Best Vegan Kale Caesar Salad
Yield: 4-6 large servings
Prep Time: 20
Cook Time: 15
Total Time: 35
For the crispy chickpeas and croutons
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 5 ounces sourdough bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil oil
- fine sea salt
For the tahini caesar dressing
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 2 small lemons)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2-3 cloves)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt & pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons water
For the salad
- 2 large bunches of Tuscan (or lacinato) kale, ribs removed and torn into bite-size pieces (about 6 cups)
- 14 ounces romaine (about 2 medium-size heads), chopped into bite-size pieces
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 avocado, diced
- vegan cashew parmesan for serving (see notes)
Preheat the oven to 400°F then line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Add the chickpeas to one, sprinkle with garlic powder then use your hands to roll them around until evenly coated. Bake in the oven for 7 minutes.
Place the cubed bread on a second baking sheet then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss to combine then add them to the oven with the chickpeas and bake for an additional 7 minutes, until light golden brown and crisp.
Meanwhile make the dressing by combining tahini, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, sea salt & pepper, and water to thin. Whisk together until smooth and add more water if needed to thin. You shouldn’t need more than 4 tablespoons of water total.
In a large bowl, add 1/2 of the kale with a few tablespoons of the dressing. Use your hands to gently massage the dressing into the kale until it starts to reduce, for about 10-15 seconds. Add the second 1/2 f the kale with the remaining dressing and repeat. If prepping in advance, stop here and store the kale in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Continue to last step when ready to serve.
Add the romaine to the bowl with the kale and toss to combine. You may need to use two separate bowls depending on how large your bowl is. Top with croutons, crispy garlic chickpeas, tomatoes, avocado and vegan cashew parmesan. Serve immediately and enjoy!
To make your own vegan cashew parmesan, combine 1 cup raw cashews with 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder in a food processor (or NutriBullet) and pulse until finely ground.
Inspired by Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor