Kale Caesar Salad with Fried Chickpeas

I love everything about this salad. It’s not a traditional Caesar salad and that’s what I love about it.

I used kale rather than romaine and fried chickpeas instead of croutons. I’ve never been that into croutons but have always been a fan of chickpeas. They’re a wonderful complement to the salad.

Kale Caesar Salad with Fried Chickpeas - A fresh spin on Caesar salad with an easy, whisk-together dressing loaded with bold flavor!! You won't miss croutons when you've got crispy, crunchy fried chickpeas that are insanely good!!

They’re crispy, crunchy, and I added plenty of salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne for a kick.

The dressing isn’t traditional because there’s no Worcestershire, egg yolks, or anchovies. But Food & Wine said it’s still a Caesar salad. Sometimes breaking tradition yields the tastiest results.

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Kale Caesar Salad with Fried Chickpeas - A fresh spin on Caesar salad with an easy, whisk-together dressing loaded with bold flavor!! You won't miss croutons when you've got crispy, crunchy fried chickpeas that are insanely good!!

The dressing clings perfectly to the curly kale leaves and has a delectable savory bite. It will keep airtight in the fridge for up to one week. I love having homemade dressings stashed in the fridge because it makes for easy lunches and fast clean-eating dinners. My daughter loved this salad and said she gives it an 11 out of 10 and asked for one in her lunch the next day. And then a few days later asked me to remake it. High praise from a 9 year old who’s going to town on kale and beans.

There’s Parmesan in the dressing as well as on top of the salad. The more the merrier when it comes to cheese. I love Parmesan and use Parm that’s been aged 24+ months. It’s a little pricier but worth it for the extra sharpness and depth of flavor.

Kale Caesar Salad with Fried Chickpeas - A fresh spin on Caesar salad with an easy, whisk-together dressing loaded with bold flavor!! You won't miss croutons when you've got crispy, crunchy fried chickpeas that are insanely good!!

Print Recipe

Kale Caesar Salad with Fried Chickpeas

This isn't a traditional Caesar salad and that's what I love about it. I used kale rather than romaine and fried chickpeas instead of croutons. They're crispy, crunchy, and I added plenty of salt, pepper, and a pinch of cayenne for a kick. The dressing isn't traditional because there's no Worcestershire, egg yolks, or anchovies but clings perfectly to the curly kale leaves and has a delectable savory bite. It will keep airtight in the fridge for up to one week. There's Parmesan in the dressing as well as on top of the salad and I prefer Parm that's been aged 24+ months for the depth of flavor.

Yield: serves 4 to 8

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: about 5 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • one 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry with paper towels
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or taste
  • pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated or pressed with a garlic press
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar, optional and to taste
  • curly kale as necessary based on servings needed, chopped into bite-sized pieces with thick ribs and coarse stems removed

Directions:

  1. To a large skillet, add the oil and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chickpeas and fry, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chickpeas to paper towels to drain. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste, optional cayenne, and toss to coat evenly; set aside.
  2. To a medium bowl, add the mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and whisk to combine. Taste dressing and check for seasoning balance, making any necessary tweaks to suit personal preference (i.e more lemon juice, mustard, salt, or pepper). I add sugar to balance the savory quality and the acid. Transfer dressing to an airtight container or jar with a lid. Dressing will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  3. To a large bowl, add the kale, drizzle with dressing as desired, and toss to coat. I prefer to massage the kale with my hands so it's well coated.
  4. Transfer kale to a plate, evenly top with grated Parmesan, chickpeas, and serve immediately. Salad is best fresh.

Adapted from Food & Wine

Only Eats

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22 comments

  1. This is a salad I could go to town on also! I’m impressed Skylar loves it–I don’t think I knew what kale was when I was her age and it’s great she loves such a variety of vegetables. I’d like to make some homemade mayo and since this calls for a 1/2 cup I shouldn’t have trouble using up a small batch in a few days. I think this will be a nice lunch on Friday after my grocery shopping!

    • You’ll love the homemade dressing and it’ll keep for quite awhile in the fridge. I had repeat requests to keep making this dressing after I initially made it! LMK what you guys think if you try it!

  2. Look so good! Where is my fork?! I love a good caesar salad and this one looks AMAZINGGGGGGGG!

  3. Holy yum! This salad looks amazing Averie! I’ve seen other versions of a kale Caesar online, but this looks by far the best. Will definitely be trying it this weekend :-) 

  4. I’ve tried to eat kale so many times in different ways, but I always have trouble chewing it (i.e., it takes forever for me to swallow it)! However, I think I will give your recipe a try! Sounds tasty and I love the idea of turning the chickpeas into croutons. :-)

  5. Yes, yes, yes!!!!  You know I love a good kale salad, and the addition of fried chickpeas is brilliant!

  6. Hi there Averie. Just love all the recipes and beautiful photos that I can practically taste them, Yummy! Question: Canola Oil is used in the recipe of the fried Chickpeas. I have read a lot of very bad and unhealthy stuff about Canola Oil on a lot of the very good health sites. I know I can use my favorite Coconut Oil but would like to know what you think?
    Regards Frances from Sunny South Africa

  7. I have eaten so many more kale in salads after massaging it with the dressing.  It really breaks down the fibers and makes it tasty.  This looks delicious!

  8. oh yummy! This looks so good!

  9. Wow this looks positively delicious!!
    The only problem is we don’t have kale in Italy so I’ll have to substitute… :/

  10. OMG! This looks AMAZE! Ceasar salad is hands down my favorite salad but I love your swap of the chickpeas for croutons. I’m thinking about doing this salad, but perhaps roasting the chickpeas to cut back on the fat and doing a skinny dressing. Beautiful pictures! 

  11. I have been obsessed with kale salads lately. Pinning!

  12. Thanks for the article. I had to learn a new dish for the family.

  13. I always love your salads Averie! Those chickpeas are sooo good. I’ve baked them before but they get much crisper in a skillet and I know Jon will take these over croutons any time. He loves a good Caesar so I have enough of everything to make it again tomorrow (and though I’ll pass on the anchovies, I picked some up for him).

    • I never want croutons again when I can have fried chickpeas! And yes they do get so much crisper in a skillet than in the oven. Baking is nice but for that extra crispy texture, I love the skillet. Glad you guys enjoyed this one!

  14. Averie, this salad is amazing! I made it for lunch today. So tasty! I used baby kale. Oh my! Love the chickpeas, too. Thanks so much for creating this recipe! :-)

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