vegan kale caesar salad with multi-grain croutons

Happy Memorial Day everyone, and Happy Birthday to my wonderful husband, John!  The kids and I love that John’s birthday falls on a Holiday weekend because we always get to spend a full day celebrating with him.  Zoe and I made his favorite coconut cake (recipe soon) while he supplied the homemade coconut ice cream.  What a man!

So, I am celebrating this day by showcasing a vegan kale caesar salad!  Yaay!  I can’t get enough kale, and I am assuming most of you are the same way.  Kale is the “it” vegetable of 2012, (at least in my world).  This is not your typical caesar salad though because it’s egg and dairy free.  It’s definitely a healthier take on the traditional caesar salad.

I love having a big salad for lunch, so I am always on the search for new recipes, especially kale ones.  I also love croutons, and these croutons are the BEST!  They are chewy and crunchy at the same time. You all know that I love carbs and kale, so this was lunch was a winner in my book!  I found that this particular kale salad was best served fresh.  It was fine for leftovers, but I found that I needed to refresh it with some dressing as the kale really absorbed all the dressing overnight and became a bit dull in flavor.  I paired this salad for dinner with some of my sausage and arugula pizza , and it was the prefect compliment.

vegan kale caesar salad:

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Note: There will be extra dressing leftover as the dressing makes 1 cup.  You can reserve this for additional salads or cut the dressing recipe below in half.  I actually used the extra dressing to re-fresh the leftover salad.  

  • 1 head of curly kale
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours – see details below
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • juice from 2 lemons - I use my hand juicer so that I get all the juice from the lemons
  • 1 large pitted Medjool date
  • 2 large stalks celery, ends cut off
  • 2 – 3 large raw garlic cloves, peeled – I used 3 garlic cloves  
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/3 cup water – I added another tablespoon after I blended the dressing.  Feel free to use more water if you want a thinner consistency
  • homemade croutons - see recipe below
Wash, de-stem & tear up the kale into bite size pieces and set it aside in a salad bowl.
Measure out the 3/4 cup cashews and rinse them in a colander.
Place them in a glass or ceramic bowl and cover them with fresh filtered water.
Cover the bowl with a clean dishtowel and let them soak for 2 hours.
Drain the cashews.
Add cashews to a food processor or high-powered blender (I used my vitamix).  Add the nutritional yeast, lemon juice, Medjool date, celery (I cut the celery into 3 large chunks to make pureeing it easier), garlic cloves, apple cider vinegar, sea salt and water and process/blend until smooth.
Note: This dressing will be thick, but when you mix it into the kale it has a nice consistency.  
Pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the dressing over the kale and mix well so that all the kale absorbs the dressing.  I actually massaged my kale a bit so the kale really absorbed the dressing.  You don’t have to go crazy massaging this kale salad.  When I say, “massage” your kale, I literally mean, get your hands in there and massage it.

The volume of the kale should reduce by about 1/3 and the kale will wilt and have a cooked texture.Feel free to add more dressing if desired after you massage it, as the kale will absorb it.

multi-grain croutons:

  • 2 thick slices of multi-grain or dark grain bread  - You can use any kind of bread here, but I loved the chewy texture of this multi grain bread. For those of you that are local, I got this bread was from the Whole Foods in San Rafael.  It’s from Della Fattoria and the name of the bread is Pane Integrale.
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt - I usually just throw a pinch of salt in
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper – I actually don’t measure out my pepper.  I just twist the pepper grinder a few times.
I took my other crouton recipe, added 2 cloves of minced garlic to it and used this amazing whole-grain dark bread.  Needless to say, these croutons were AMAZING!
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.  Slice up 2 thick slices of bread.
Cut the slices into 1/2 inch cubes.
In a medium sized bowl add the olive oil, minced garlic, pepper and salt and mix them together. Throw in the croutons and toss to coat.
Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
Bake for approximately 10 to 12 minutes, making sure to flip the bread over once during baking so it browns on both sides. Bake until the croutons are browned and crisp.
Top the kale salad with the homemade croutons and serve.
This salad is a healthier take on the traditional caesar salad.  If you’re looking for another healthy caesar salad recipe that actually tastes more like a traditional caesar salad, then try my miso garlic roasted tofu salad.
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{ 17 comments… add one }

  • Heidi @ Food Doodles May 28, 2012, 8:17 pm

    This looks awesome! The dressing, the kale, the croutons, everything! Yummy :) I’ll have to remember this when I get some local kale(I’m not sure why I like it so much more than the stuff at the store. Fresher maybe?)

    • Jacquelyn Grandy May 29, 2012, 5:07 pm

      Hi Heidi! Thanks for stopping by. I pick my kale up at the local grocery (they do get it fresh from the local farmers) but plan on hitting the farmers market more this summer when my kids are out of school. It’s going to be our new summer Thursday outing.

  • Inside a British Mum's Kitchen May 29, 2012, 4:06 pm

    Delicious healthy salad – I somehow think of kale as cold weather food – but you’ve just proved me wrong – looking forward to trying this!
    Mary x

    • Jacquelyn Grandy May 29, 2012, 5:04 pm

      Thanks Mary! I had a warm kale salad yesterday at this cafe and it was amazing and so comforting so I look forward to trying some warm kale recipes come fall.

  • Sharyn Dimmick May 29, 2012, 4:10 pm

    I never understand why people want to call salads that are not Caesar salads Caesar salads. What this salad has in common with Caesar salad is croutons and lemon juice and garlic — not so much, really. Whether it is healthier is also arguable: most of us can use the vitamins and protein found in anchovies, egg and a moderate amount of cheese and there is nothing wrong with romaine lettuce either.

    • Jacquelyn Grandy May 29, 2012, 5:03 pm

      Hi Sharyn! You’re absolutely right. It was presented on the other blog as a caesar salad so I went with that title. It’s just a name right? I also agree with you that what is healthier to one person is not so healthy to another. We all have our different opinions and what I think is healthy for me may not be healthy for someone else. I’m not an expert on health nor am I claiming to be. I just thought this was a healthier version of the caesar salads that I am typically use to getting out at restaurants. It has kale & nutritional yeast and raw cashews and those to me are pretty healthy ingredients. I also used a whole grain bread for the croutons and that tends to be a bit healthier than white bread croutons. That is why I termed it “healthy.”

  • Anna Reid May 30, 2012, 9:53 am

    What a fantastic variation of this salad… Looks really delicious!!

  • Marta @ What Should I Eat For Breakfast Today May 30, 2012, 2:44 pm

    I think that your salad will be very popular in my home. I’m trying to eat healthy and searching for good recipes all the time. I like the dressing :)

  • Pam May 30, 2012, 3:15 pm

    What a fantastic looking salad!

  • thyme (Sarah) May 31, 2012, 11:53 am

    What a terrific looking kale salad. I am so intrigued by that cashew dressing. i didn’t know you had to soak raw cashews and am just becoming familiar with raw nuts. The date must add a little sweetness. BTW, cousins are coming for the weekend and they saw the hamburger on the blog. Guess what I’ll be making for their visit!!

    • Jacquelyn Grandy May 31, 2012, 1:12 pm

      Hi Sarah! Awesome! Those burgers are a crowd pleaser for sure. Don’t you love it when friends or family order dinner off your blog? My kids sometimes go through my blog for dinner or dessert suggestions.

  • Em (Wine and Butter) May 31, 2012, 5:17 pm

    Such a beauiful salad and I love using cashews in dressing!! I also think what is healthy depends on the rest of your diet (to respond to Sharyn). If you are eating a lot of meat and stuff generally then having a vegan salad for a change prob is healthier (no-one needs an excess of cheese or even eggs…). However if you’re eating a basically vegan diet I totally agree the occasional ceaser salad would do you good. One thing I will say is that kale ALWAYS has the edge over romaine and also that this salad is heavier on the veg than most caesars… so I think it is healthier. Plus what gets termed a ‘caesar salad’ is a salad that might fill the same role (main course salad etc).. rather than something with similar ingredients. Just think about burgers! :). Anyways Jackie -youve made me hungry! xox

    • Jacquelyn Grandy May 31, 2012, 7:29 pm

      Thanks for all the nutritional info Em. You are my nutritional expert. I will make this salad for you when you come visit me at my casa.

  • Erin June 28, 2012, 6:51 am

    Yum! I just stumbled upon your blog and I must try this! I have a fridge full of kale just waiting to be put into this salad. And I agree that kale is just an all-round ‘healthier’ choice compared to most lettuces, plus dairy can cause inflammation for a lot of people, so generally a non-dairy salad dressing ranks as healthier in my books. Either way, I have absolutely no problems calling this a healthy take on a caesar salad… that’s what I’ll be calling it when I serve it up in the very near future!

    • Jacquelyn Grandy June 28, 2012, 1:38 pm

      Hi Erin! I totally agree with you. I do think kale is a healthier choice than plain old romaine. If you love kale salads, then try you have to try my lacinato one or my miso one. Those are my two favorites! You could omit the cheese in them as well!

    • Erin July 2, 2012, 7:04 am

      Nice! Sounds great and I will absolutely have to try them :) I do love me some kale!


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