This Vegetarian Caesar Salad is made with Tuscan kale, healthy vegetarian caesar dressing, and crispy roasted chickpeas. It's an easy Kale Caesar recipe made without anchovies or eggs, and can be made vegan with a couple of simple swaps.
Friends, do you have a go-to vegetarian caesar salad recipe? If no, now you do. If yes, I implore you to put down your forks and give this one a try and I believe - truly - that you'll have found yourself a new go-to.
What happens when you take three amazing things and put them together? Three rights making a wrong? Not when those three things form the base of this super easy and delicious kale caesar.
Listen, I know that it's not super traditional to use kale in a caesar salad recipe, but let's be real: romaine has been having a tough time lately. There have been so many E-coli outbreaks with romaine lettuce that even though it's reportedly safe again it just kinda gives me the heebie jeebies.
Plus, when you make a kale caesar you can walk around shouting KAAAAAAAALE CAESAR!!! and if that isn't a good reason to make this recipe I just don't know what is
Just so it's clear where we're going with this, what we've got here is:
- A bomb diggity vegetarian caesar salad recipe
- A super delicious kale caesar
- Easily a vegan caesar salad with a couple of small tweaks
- Definitely a healthy caesar salad
- A vegetarian caesar salad with protein thanks to some hella delicious crispy chickpeas
What's in this Vegetarian Caesar Salad?
You only need a few basics to pull together this amazing kale caesar recipe! We're going to be using:
- Kale --> Tuscan kale is my preference, but you can sub in curly kale or even romaine if you like (to live dangerously).
- Vegetarian Caesar dressing --> This stuff is delicious.
- Crispy Roasted Garbanzo Beans --> They're chickpeas but we're being fancy, ok?
- Extra Parmesan cheese --> Or a Parmesan-type vegetarian hard cheese.
- Croutons --> If you're in the mood for extra crunch.
How do you make a Kale Caesar?
First, you grab a bunch of kale and get de-stemming. I like to grip the stem with one hand and pull the leaf away from the stem with the other. Then, you'll stack up all those kale leaves and slice 'em into thick ribbons. This is a great little how-to video if my words aren't doing it for you.
We want bite-sized pieces for this vegetarian caesar salad, so I also like to do one chop down the middle.
Then, all you need to do is add your Vegetarian Caesar Dressing and massage it into the kale.
Yes, my friends, I want you to massage your kale. I know it's not fair that we live in a world where kale gets more frequent massages than I do, but it's just how it is. A quick 30 second rub will to the trick and turn your tough, chewy kale into a soft and supple salad green.
Throw down some freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (or a vegetarian hard cheese of your choice) and toss it in with the salad. Then, top with crunchy Roasted Garbanzo Beans and / or croutons, and you are in business.
Can I make this salad in advance?
You sure can. Kale salads hold up super well with the dressing on, so feel free to keep your kale caesar dressed and ready to go in the fridge for up to three days.
I do, however, recommend you add the roasted chickpeas right when you're about to serve it, otherwise they'll lose their crunch.
Can I make a vegan caesar salad?
Yup! You'll need to make a couple of substitutions to the Vegetarian Caesar Dressing recipe (substitutions are noted in the recipe) and either skip the extra Parmesan cheese or replace it with nutritional yeast or a vegan cheese of your choice.
Why is Caesar salad not vegetarian?
Traditional caesar dressing is made with anchovy paste, raw eggs, and Parmesan cheese. Some or all of these ingredients may not meet the definition of vegetarian, depending on who is defining it. I personally do eat Parmesan, but I don't eat anchovies, and raw eggs squick me out.
Hey Nutrition lady, is kale healthy?
I'm just going to pretend you didn't ask that.
Kale is a nutritional powerhouse! It is extraordinarily rich in micronutrients, dietary fiber, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and cancer fighting glucosinolates. Kale is a good source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, manganese, and contains nearly twice the vitamin K (essential for blood clotting and also an important anti-inflammatory agent) than any other cruciferous vegetable (broccoli, cabbage, etc).
Iron, magnesium, vitamin E, folate, and phosphorous are among the complement of vital minerals found in kale. The dietary fiber in kale is known to reduce blood cholesterol levels. One recent study showed that this benefit may be improved by lightly steaming kale for about 5 minutes before consuming.
Other salads you might enjoy:
Vegetarian Caesar Salad
- Remove the kale leaves from the stems, and place in a stack on your cutting board.
- Using a sharp knife, slice into thin ribbons.
- Place the kale ribbons into a large bowl, and add a few tablespoons of dressing (do not add all the dressing at once - this is far more dressing than you need for this recipe).
- Using clean hands, massage the dressing into the kale. Add extra dressing as needed.
- Toss the salad, and add grated Parmesan.
- To serve, garnish with grated Parmesan, crispy chickpeas, and croutons.
- Nutrition values are an estimate only
- Nutrition calculation assumes ½ cup Vegetarian Caesar Dressing and 1 cup Roasted Garbanzo Beans will be used in this recipe.
This recipe was originally published March 30, 2015. It was retested, rephotographed, and updated May 21, 2019.