I don’t know why but I’ve been craving kale lately and – to set the record straight – I’m not one of those crazy-for-kale people. (Mr. EN definitely isn’t one of “those people” either.) But I do really enjoy kale …. especially when it serves as a base for this super-healthy, supremely- satisfying Creamy Chickpea and Kale Caesar Salad.
This salad is…
- Light and bright – perfect for a dreary winter day
- Full of lemony-garlicky goodness
- Nutritious! The kale and Romain are packed with vitamins A, K and C; the chickpeas are high in protein, folate and fiber; and the dressing is a fantastic source of heart-healthy fat.
- Fiber-rich. One serving of this salad provides you with over 25% of the fiber you need in a day.
- A satisfying main OR side dish. (To make it a main, add the whole can of beans or top with grilled chicken, salmon or tofu.)
- Tasty AND unique. Bring this salad to your next dinner party and don’t forget to bring several copies of the recipe with you. Your friends are going to ask you for it, guaranteed.
- Why and how to soak the cashews: Soaking will make the dressing MUCH creamier. You can either soak the cashews in water, at room temperature for 4 hours, or soak them in the refrigerator, overnight, for 8 hours. If you really need to speed things up, soak the cashews in hot, almost boiling water for 15 minutes. Proceed to Step 1 of the recipe.
- What kind of kale? Any kind except baby kale. I love Lacinato kale (AKA Dinosaur Kale) so that’s what you see pictured here. However, curly kale works best (it’s sturdier) if you plan to make a bigger batch and have leftovers for a few days. Also, I really like the contrasting textures when you combine kale and Romaine lettuce, but if you want to use only kale that’s fine too.
- Massage, but not too much. Some people are “massagers” while others are not. I like to massage the kale – just a little – to make it more tender. Be careful! Too much massaging (and this can happen quickly) can make the kale limp, not crisp. Just a few gentle squeezes (about 1 minute) in the palms of your hands is all it takes for Lacinato kale. Curly kale takes a bit longer. You are “done” massaging when the leaves are dark green in color with a slightly crisp (not tough OR limp) texture.
- Make it vegan. To make this salad vegan use tamari or liquid aminos instead of Worcestershire sauce (which contains anchovies) in the dressing. Also, top with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast (see below) instead of Parmesan.
- What is nutritional yeast? Nutritional yeast is a vegetarian dietary supplement with a pleasant umami-rich cheesy flavor. It is rich in vitamin B-12 (which vegans do not get much of) and is a decent source of protein. Read more about nutritional yeast
- Use the extra dressing. It’s hard to make salad dressing for two. You will have leftovers and that’s GREAT NEWS for you. Save it and drizzle it over a baked potato, roasted veggies, or another salad.
Are you getting bored with your dinner salad? Are you looking for a game-changing salad that will challenge and tickle your tastebuds in the best way? Let me know what you think of this Creamy Chickpea and Kale Caesar Salad. We love it.
Peace, love and good eats, from our Empty Nest to yours.
Trending in the Empty Nest Kitchen: Nutritional Yeast, purchased at our local Meijer store
Mr. ENs take on this recipe: “I didn’t think this would be this good but I really like it.”
Creamy Chickpea and Kale Caesar Salad
- 4 cups kale, sliced thin and massaged (see Prep Tip #3, above )
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups chopped Romaine or other firm lettuce
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2-4 tablespoons grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
The Dressing (as prepared = 4 servings)
- 1/3 cup raw unsalted cashews, soaked in water for 6-8 hours
- Juice of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast*
- 1 tablespoon low sodium liquid aminos, tamari, soy sauce, or Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2-4 tablespoons water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Several grinds, fresh black pepper
- Make the Dressing: Drain and rinse the cashews and place them in a high speed blender or 4-cup food processor. Add all the remaining dressing ingredients (except zest) to the blender and process until smooth. Taste and adjust water, salt, and pepper until you reach the desired consistency and taste.
- Place kale in a large salad bowl and sprinkle salt on top. Gently massage (squeeze gently by the handful) the kale until it softens a bit and turns a deep dark green.
- Add the chopped Romain lettuce, chickpeas, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese to the kale. Combine.
- Drizzle 2-4 tablespoons of dressing on top then gently toss until well-combined. Make sure dressing is evenly-distributed and that all the greens are coated.
- Taste and season with more salt and pepper and Parmesan if needed.
- Makes two main-dish size servings or four smaller servings. (The nutrition analysis below is for one smaller serving.)
- * If you don’t have (or don’t want to purchase) nutritional yeast use 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan instead.
- The dressing recipe serves 6. You will have extra dressing. It will keep in the refrigerator, in a closed container for up to four days. Before serving thin with plant-based milk or water.
- Drizzle leftover dressing on top of roasted veggies, a baked potato, or another salad.
Serving Size about 2 cups
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 16 g
Saturated Fat 2.5 g
Cholesterol 2 mg
Sodium 600 mg
Total Carbohydrates 22 g
Dietary Fiber 6 g
Protein 8 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.