This kale Caesar salad is a lighter and healthier version of the classic. A kale leafy blend, homemade croutons, shaved Parm and a light mayo-less dressing.
My oldest daughter, Haileigh, LOVES Caesar salad.
It’s a requirement of hers that I have the ingredients on hand so when she gets home from school or even after softball practice she can make herself a small salad. She’ll order it at any restaurant that has it listed on the menu and never, ever gets tired of it.
This past summer we ate chicken Caesar salad for dinner just about every other week, for a while there it was every Tuesday for like a month and a half! No complaints here but it did get me thinking about making a lighter, more healthy version.
Enter this kale and Caesar vinaigrette.
First things first, the dressing. In the dressing recipe that I usually make for Caesar salads, it calls for mayo and a lot of Parm. This one does not. It’s a vinaigrette base; lemon juice and olive oil but made creamy with a little Dijon and Parmesan cheese (only a couple tablespoons). Garlic and anchovy paste gives it that classic Caesar taste and it couldn’t be any easier to make.
…and grate 1/2 to 1 cloves of garlic.
Grab the anchovy paste, seriously don’t be afraid of this! It truly gives this dressing it’s unique yet distinct flavor.
You’ll need two teaspoons.
Also, two teaspoons of Dijon mustard.
Salt and pepper…
…2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese…
You’ll also need some freshly squeezed lemon juice. If you don’t own one of these juicing contraptions, then you’re missing out.
You’ll need 1/3 cup of lemon juice.
Whisk those ingredients to blend the anchovy paste with the garlic with the Dijon with the Parmesan
Continue to whisk while you slooooowly drizzle in the olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper to taste and set off to the side.
Now it’s time for the CIABATTA CROUTONS!
Slice the loaf of ciabatta and cut it into roughly 1-inch pieces. Again, I hate to sound like a nag, but if you’re not making your own croutons by now you’re totes missing out.
Toss the cubes of ciabatta in olive oil and a few pinches of kosher salt get baked in a 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden.
No need to toss or flip, just let them do their thang.
Now to sell my family on a “kale salad” I decided to break up the kale-ness with a little red leaf romaine lettuce. Of course you could do an all kale salad… it’s totally up to you! But I’ll admit, I do like the texture mix up with using the two lettuces.
Not only is it gorgeous but texturally the kale with the romaine it’s just right for picky mouths.
Now it’s time to build our salad!
Fill a bowl with the leafy greens, top with croutons, shaved Parmesan cheese and lots of black pepper.
Drizzle with the Caesar vinaigrette…
…grind some fresh black pepper over top and prepare to fall in love with this kale Caesar salad!
So good and a little lighter than traditional and without lacking in flavor.
My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance!
Kale Caesar Salad + Caesar Vinaigrette
A lighter and healthier version of a classic salad!
Yield: 6+ (depending)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes (for croutons)
Total Time: about 30 minutes
FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:
1/2 to 1 whole peeled fresh garlic clove
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
FOR THE CROUTONS:
1 (12 to 16 ounce) ciabatta loaf
FOR THE SALAD:
1 medium bunch kale leaves (stems removed and discard), chopped
1 medium head of red leaf lettuce, chopped
Parmesan cheese shavings
Arrange the rack in your oven so it's in the middle and then preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
Into a medium bowl, grate the garlic, then add in the anchovy paste, Dijon, salt, pepper and grated Parmesan. Pour in the lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Continue to whisk while slowly pouring in the olive oil. Yields about 2/3 cup.
Slice the ciabatta bread and roughly cut into 1-inch pieces. Place them onto a rimmed, metal baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a couple pinches of kosher salt. Bake the croutons in your preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. There's no need to toss the croutons, just simply rotate the pan halfway through baking. Allow the croutons to cool a bit before adding to your salad.
Rinse and dry the kale and red leaf lettuce (I use a salad spinner). Toss the lettuces together in a large bowl. Place desired amount of greens into serving bowls. Top with croutons, Parmesan cheese shavings, drizzle with Caesar vinaigrette over top and season with more black pepper.