When I was around fourteen years old I remember going out for lunch with a friend and, after I got home, proudly telling my parents about the healthy choices we had made; we’d split zucchini sticks and a Caesar salad. I felt ripped off when I realized how unhealthy those choices really were; I thought we had cracked the code! That day still stands out in my memory as when I began to understand the immense complexity around food and nutrition. How could a salad be unhealthy?! And yet, those restaurant Caesar salads – laden with creamy dressing and deep-fried croutons – are anything but.
This Caesar salad, though, is something to write home about. It starts with lacinato kale, which is a little bit sweeter and more approachable than your standard curly kale. Torn into bite sized pieces, the kale is massaged with a yogurt-based Caesar dressing that not only lightens up the recipe considerably, but also means that this Caesar is free from eggs. The traditional anchovies are replaced with umami-rich miso paste, and liquid aminos (or soy sauce) replaces the Worcestershire sauce that is ubiquitous in Caesar dressings.
There are croutons, of course; oven-baked cubes of a dark, dense Danish-style rye bread that not only complements the flavor of the kale perfectly, but also brings considerably more nutrition to the table than a standard white-bread crouton would. If you’re looking to switch things up, try replacing the croutons with roasted chickpeas, and of course you can leave the croutons out altogether if you’d prefer, but if you’re in the mood for a crouton (and really, who isn’t?) then I recommend giving these a go.
One last note – if you find kale salads a little too kale-y, or you’re trying to convert a kale skeptic, please don’t skip the massaging step. It may sound ridiculous to massage a salad, but it does wonders to break down and tenderize the tough leaves. Alternately, try going 50/50 with kale and torn romaine lettuce.
For the croutons:
For the dressing:
For the salad:
Make the croutons:
Make the dressing:
Make the salad:
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