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
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.
- 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
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.
Dressing will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Adapted from Food & Wine
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 500Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 30gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 1163mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 8gSugar: 5gProtein: 12g
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Hi Averie, I made this with miracle whip last night! I don’t use mayo, I’m not a fan of it. I only had the miracle whip because my boyfriend left it in my fridge. I skipped the sugar, as I didn’t need it. I also used romaine lettuce, that’s just because that is what I had on hand. Than I added grilled shrimp to the bowl. So good! Thank you for another great recipe.
Thanks for the 5 star review glad this worked out great for you with the ‘Whip and the grilled shrimp sound like a great addition!
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! :-)
Thanks for trying the recipe and I’m glad it came out great for you! Baby kale is great, isn’t it!
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!
Thanks for the article. I had to learn a new dish for the family.
I have been obsessed with kale salads lately. Pinning!
Thanks for pinning! I’m kale obsessed too :)
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!
Wow this looks positively delicious!!
The only problem is we don’t have kale in Italy so I’ll have to substitute… :/
oh yummy! This looks so good!
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!
Such a good eat.
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
It will taste a bit different and I’ve never use coconut oil to fry in, but if you have and you’re comfortable with it, then I would give it a try.
Yes, yes, yes!!!! You know I love a good kale salad, and the addition of fried chickpeas is brilliant!
They were like little croutons, minus the bread. Crunchy, crispy and addicting!
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. :-)
If you massage the dressing into the kale with your hands and let it sit for 10-15 minutes it’ll really soften the kale leaves. Also, just cut them smaller :)
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 :-)
Look so good! Where is my fork?! I love a good caesar salad and this one looks AMAZINGGGGGGGG!
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!