I used to be afraid of kale. Growing up, kale is what we fed to our rabbit and that’s pretty much all I really knew about it. For some reason back in like 2010 (that’s probably not the year) kale became THE vegetable to eat. 2012 was later dubbed the “year of kale” even! Everyone was eating, drinking, blending, sautéing, roasting and ripping up kale like they were opening presents on Christmas morning. Although I didn’t get it at the time, I get it now. Working at Whole Foods taught me that kale is the #1 superfood because it’s nutrient dense and low in calories. These are good things. Knowing this, I still found myself rarely hitting up the kale section because I didn’t know what to do with it and that was enough to scare me off. Well, I recently put on my big girl pants and decided to give kale an honest chance by making it the star of this Kale Caesar Salad recipe that left Chet and I wanting more and wanting it now.
I’d like to talk about how much I love salad for a minute. During my freshman and sophomore years of college I never used a plate in the cafeteria at dinner or lunch because I honestly ate salad religiously. I felt full, I felt healthy, I felt entitled to some froyo afterward and that made me happy. To this date I mostly order salad when we go out to eat (yes, I get mocked, scolded and scoffed at by my family and friends), but it’s all for the love I have for a big bowl of delicious mixed greens. Elaine and I would be best friends; big salads for days. A salad without a good dressing though is like bread without butter and this Vegan Caesar Dressing is killer! I honestly don’t even know how the ingredients all come together to make such a delicious, smooth and creamy dressing, but they do and it’s worth celebrating.
Blend all that together and get this amazing, creamy, cheesy, completely vegan Caesar dressing!
One of my favorite additions to salads is my replacement for croutons; roasted chickpeas. I love these little guys! If you’re not a big meat person, but you’re looking for a good crunchy, salty protein, try adding these to your salads, pastas or wraps. They’re incredibly easy to make and oddly addictive.
Caesar salad is a classic side dish that is usually more unhealthy than healthy. Mainly because of the dressing (we’ve already solved that problem), the croutons (solved that too) and the lettuce which we bumped up the nutrients by replacing with kale. The downside is next time you go out to dinner and get a nice caesar salad on the side, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Just make sure to mask the flavor with some wine.
Maybe you’re more of a wrap person? Wrap this salad in a whole wheat tortilla and call it lunch. I took this to work with me and could barely wait until noon to eat it. Filling + delicious = productive work day. Productive work day = a raise. Kale Caesar Wraps = a raise. It’s just simple math.
If you’re like us and trying to stick to a budget, especially with food, then going out for lunch might be a money sucker for you as well. Chet and I struggle with making lunch in the morning because we’re already running around like crazy trying not to be late. Who has time to stop and make a sandwich? If you make this the night before, then it makes a great, quick lunch the next day and the next. The kale will hold its texture since it’s so dense, even with all of the dressing on it, so you don’t have to worry about soggy greens.
What to Bring to the Store
For this recipe, you will need the following reusables to reduce your packaging waste:
– a reusable produce bag for your kale (and maybe your lemon and garlic if you’re concerned about it)
– a few reusable bulk spice bags for your nutritional yeast, paprika and dried parsley (if you don’t already have them)
– a reusable bulk bag for your cashews
As always bring your reusable grocery bags! Leave some in your car at all times to limit your need for a disposable.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Waste Meter, check out the scale on the bottom of either my Oatmeal Banana Chip Pancakes post or Pumpkin Mac & Cheese post. It is a numerical scale I created to better define how much waste each recipe produces.
With that, I give this recipe a 3.99! It’s so close to being a 4 if it wasn’t for the dreaded plastic wrap that covered my tiny little block of parmesan. The packaging that belongs in your recycling bin: the chickpea can and your honey bear bottle or agave bottle after you’re done with it, which should be a long time! Everything else came in bulk, or can be composted! Compostables: lemon leftovers, garlic skins and kale stems. This really should almost be a 5!
- heaping 1/2 cup raw cashews (not roasted or salted)
- 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (roughly the squeeze of half a lemon)
- 1/2 tsp agave or honey
- 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (not vegan? use grated parmesan cheese)
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 can chickpeas (AKA garbanzo beans)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed, leaves only
- 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shaved
- Possible Additions: avocado, tomato, meat, nuts
- Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
- Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes until thickened and cooled.
- Preheat oven to 385 degrees.
- Put the garbanzo beans in a roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and add salt, pepper and paprika. Lightly toss.
- Roast for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
- Rinse the de-stemmed kale in cold water to remove any dirt. Roughly chop and place in a large bowl.
- Top with roasted chickpeas and shaved parmesan.
- Pour the dressing overtop and mix well until incorporated.
- Add any other ingredients if you like, or wrap into a tortilla.
- Kale is a dense leafy green, so it holds up well after dressed. Dress this salad the night before and the kale will soften a bit overnight making it perfect for lunch the next day!
Now go caese the day!
Happy Weekend Adventures!