Kale Caesar Salad with Crispy Chickpeas — A fresh spin on Caesar salad with an easy, whisk-together dressing that’s loaded with bold flavor!! You won’t miss croutons when you’ve got crispy chickpeas that are insanely good!!
Homemade Caesar Salad … with Kale!
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.
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. Sometimes breaking tradition yields the tastiest results.
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.
There’s Parmesan in the dressing as well as on top of the salad. The more, the merrier when it comes to cheese!
Kale Caesar Salad Ingredients
To make this easy Caesar salad with kale, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Canola oil
- Canned chickpeas
- Curly kale
For the no-egg Caesar dressing, you’ll need:
- Lemon juice
- Dijon mustard
- Grated Parmesan
- Salt and pepper
- Sugar (optional)
Can Miracle Whip Be Used Instead of Mayo?
Of course! Use whichever you prefer. You can even substitute a vegan mayo, if desired.
If using Miracle Whip instead of mayonnaise, you likely won’t need the optional sugar in the dressing since Miracle Whip is already sweeter in flavor.
How to Make a Caesar Salad with Kale
This recipe may use a homemade Caesar dressing, but the salad comes together quickly! Here’s an overview of how the kale Caesar is prepared:
- Add the chickpeas to an oiled skillet and fry, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and then season.
- Whisk together the creamy Caesar dressing. Taste and adjust as needed.
- Add the kale to a large bowl and toss with the crispy chickpeas and dressing.
I love the simplicity of this kale Caesar recipe as it’s the perfect side salad to any Italian entree or grilled protein. However, you can tweak the salad as you see fit.
Here are some suggestions:
- Add protein such as grilled or baked chicken, sauteed shrimp, etc.
- Swap the crispy chickpeas for croutons
- Swap the kale for another dark leafy green, such as spinach
- Add cooked and crumbled bacon
- Add your favorite salad veggies, such as cucumber or bell pepper
Tips for the Best Kale Caesar
Kale: I used curly kale, but you may use any variety you have on hand. Be sure to remove the ribs and use only the leafy portion of the kale.
Parmesan: I used Parm that’s been aged 24+ months. It’s a little pricier but worth it for the extra sharpness and depth of flavor.
Dressing: If you have time, try to make the dressing an hour or so before assembling the salad. It tastes best after it’s had time to chill in the fridge so the flavors can develop.
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Kale Caesar Salad with Fried Chickpeas
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- one 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry with paper towels
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper, or taste
- pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated or pressed with a garlic press
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon pepper, or to taste
- ¼ 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
Make the chickpeas:
- 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.
Make the dressing:
- 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.
Assemble the salad:
- 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.
- Transfer kale to a plate, evenly top with grated Parmesan, chickpeas, and serve immediately. Salad is best fresh.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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