kid friendly caesar salad

Marin Mama dressings, family favorites, kale, kale salads, salads, vegetarian 39 Comments

kid friendly caesar salad

kid friendly caesar saladMoms, do I have caesar salad recipe for you.  This is one of Eli’s favorite salads now and he literally requests it daily.  He eats a whole plate full, even when I sneak some lacinato kale in the salad.  I told him the other night as he scarfed down a plate full of salad that he just polished off about 1/4 a head of kale. His jaw just about slammed down on the table.  He said he didn’t even know there was kale in the salad, he thought the dark green leaves were darker romaine lettuce pieces. The dressing is what makes this a kid friendly salad (no anchovies or raw egg) or should I say adult friendly as well. You can make it more of an adult salad by adding some kale as well as multigrain croutons. To keep it truly kid friendly, I would just serve the dressing over some romaine leaves and make up some sourdough or french bread croutons.  BTW, I don’t always add croutons to the salad, so don’t feel the pressure.  We usually just have this salad as a side to our meal sans the croutons.  I just don’t always have time to whip up a batch of croutons during the week.

You know what I love about this salad?  The dressing makes enough for a weeks worth of salads. I made the dressing up on Sunday and we paired this salad with our dinner all week. All I had to do was throw some dressing on some fresh lettuce leaves, (which I show you how to keep fresh and handy in this post) and voila, the salad was complete.  It was nice having a salad each night to compliment the other vegetables and entree I was serving.  I’m finding that as my kids are growing, their appetites are as well. I need to have more variety and more substance on the table each night, and a salad is a great and healthy way to add that extra bit.  

If you have a smaller household and don’t want salad all week, then feel free to cut the dressing recipe in half.  I was going to do that originally, but was glad I didn’t, as I used every little bit of dressing.  I love this dressing because there are no anchovies (not a fan of anchovies, sorry) or raw eggs in the dressing, which makes it a perfect family friendly dressing.  It’s also so easy to throw together and uses such simple pantry ingredients. kid friendly caesar salad

kid friendly caesar salad:

recipe adapted from The Supper Club
Makes about 1 1/2 cups dressing
printer friendly version
Caesar dressing & salad:
  • 1 cup grated or shredded parmesan cheese – I usually only have shredded around and it works great.  
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped 
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1 1/2 lemons or 1 juicy lemon)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of romaine lettuce or 1/2 head romaine and 1/2 bunch of lacinato/dinasour kale – I used a combination of the two lettuces, but if your child doesn’t like kale, then stick to romaine.  Also, you can use more or less lettuce depending on the amount of people you are serving.
In a blender combine the grated parmesan cheese, garlic, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Blend on high speed to mince the garlic and to mix well.  
With the machine running on low speed, slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream and blend until emulsified.  Taste the dressing and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
There you have it, fresh dressing.  Now, wasn’t that easy? 
Set the dressing aside.
Pour the dressing into a large glass jar or a couple of smaller ones, if you’re not using it right away.  The dressing will last for a week after it’s made, as long as it’s stored in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator. 
You will have to whisk the dressing each time before you use it, as it will thicken up a bit.
Don’t worry if the dressing seems thick, it will be great once it gets mixed into the salad.
  • 2 slices of bread  – Just use whatever bread you have available.  My kids love croutons no matter what bread I use.  If you’re serving this salad to younger or pickier kids, then I would start off with simpler bread like sourdough or French bread.   
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced (optional but recommended) 
  • 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.
Pre-heat your oven to 425 degrees.  
Pull out 2 slices of sliced sandwich bread or slice 2 thick slices from a loaf of bread.  
I just discovered this bread called Dave’s killer bread, and it is killer. 
It’s so good and so fresh.  You can get it locally at Safeway and now at Paradise Foods.
 Cut the slices into cubes.
 In a medium sized bowl mix together the olive oil, minced garlic (if using), pepper and salt.
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.
The croutons will stay fresh in a sealed container for about 2-3 days.
To assemble the salad, tear up the romaine leaves as well as the de-stemmed kale (if you’re using kale) and throw them into a salad bowl.  Throw in the croutons and add some dressing to taste. Toss well to coat all of the romaine and kale generously and evenly. Feel free to add more dressing as needed.
Note: If you’re using kale, you may want to massage the dressing into the kale leaves just a bit.  
You could also slice the kale into thin slices to make it easier for the kids to eat.  I find that when kale is sliced up, it’s less intimidating for kids. 

Garnish the salad with fresh parmesan shavings if desired.
When you make the dressing, it might seem like a lot, but you will love the fact that you can literally throw together a salad at the last minute. If you keep your lettuces washed and ready to go, then you will be able to throw this salad together in less than 5 minutes.
It’s the perfect salad to serve up to guests and the perfect addition to any meal.
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Comments 39

  1. sara

    Hi Marin Mama – I’ve been reading your site for a little while and I thought I’d say hi. I found it when I googled kale this summer – the miso kale salad recipe is now one of my favorite recipes! I’ll have to try this one too. There are a few others that I’ve printed and are in the stack to try. Keep up the great food blog! Sara from Chicago

    1. Jacquelyn Grandy

      Hi Sara! Thanks for stopping by and saying hi and for the kind words! I really love hearing from readers. I love that salad as well, and actually made it over the weekend for lunch. Have you tried the lacinato kale salad yet? It’s super yummy and by far my favorite, because it’s so easy to make. Stay warm in Chicago girl!

    1. Jacquelyn Grandy

      Hey Baker mama! I’m sure your kale loving gals will love this salad! Now that you have your lettuce burritos, your all set to go! I bet you’re cooking up a storm on this rainy and cozy day!

  2. Anonymous

    I was waiting for this recipe. I just whipped up the dressing, so easy BTW, and had some kale and romaine all ready to go in the fridge (from your great post on Tuesday) and I’m loving this salad. It is so good and I just love that I have fresh dressing ready to go for the week. I can’t wait to try it on the family tonight.
    Best, Sally

  3. Anonymous

    Yum! Made this tonight with your heirloom tomato soup (Roasted the tomatoes for 45 minutes first to concentrate their flavor since there are no more heirlooms to be found). So good! Was all set to sneak the Kale in under the kid radar when Richard yelled from the kitchen “Do you want the kale in with the romaine?” Ay yay yay! I was shocked when Bella willingly ate the kale and loved it and G who, doesn’t like salad, actually went into the kitchen to get a salad plate and chomped it (sans kale!). It’s a keeper!

    1. Jacquelyn Grandy

      Amy! I was cracking up when I read your comment. I could totally hear Richard shouting out about the kale :) I’m psyched you made the salad and that Bella loved the kale and Georgia the salad! Yippee. Eli was proud when he heard about the girls liking the salad. He seems to think that it’s his salad creation. It’s funny that you made the heirloom soup. I just saw a batch of local organic heirlooms in the San Rafael Whole Foods the other day. They were pretty firm, so they still needed some ripening up. I may swing over there today and make some up for the weekend. I love your roasting technique. You gotta let me in on that. Ok, girl, see you around campus and thanks for letting me know how it all turned out, you know I love hearing that!

  4. Anonymous

    JG-made the dressing tonight and kids like it-yay! I too make a salad dressing for the week, I’ve made the same one for about 20 years (can you say b-o-r-i-n-g:)?) so it was a nice change of pace for the family. We are certain to make it part of the rotation:)

    1. Jacquelyn Grandy

      Carolyn, my mountain mama! I think you’re the one who inspired me to wash my lettuce and produce right away and then store it to help keep it fresh. I’m so glad you tried the recipe and that the kiddos loved it. I want your old BORING dressing recipe, as my kids are now into a nightly salad, so pass it on!

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  10. Michelle

    I can’t wait to try this dressing! And the mix of romain and kale might get me to eat more kale! I love kale in theory, but when it comes down to actually eating it, not so much. I’m trying to get better!

  11. Post

    Hi Michelle! You will love this dressing, its super creamy and comforting. I love mixing the kale in with any salad as it boosts up the nutritional value. Make the garlic breadcrumbs, they rock! Do you massage your kale? You would love it so much more if you massaged it. Try the lacinato salad as well. It has turned kale haters into kale lovers. You have to massage the dressing into the shredded kale leaves. It honestly doesn’t taste like kale at all. The curly kale does have a bitter flavor, but not the lacinato kale. Let me know if you try one of them and if it changes your outlook on kale. :) xoxo, Jackie

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    1. Post

      Hi Michelle. I’m so happy you made the dressing. I usually halve it as well. I just topped it on some kale and threw some leftover chicken on there the other day and it was a fabulous caesar salad. Glad you liked it! xoxo, Jackie

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  19. Emily3

    I made this dressing tonight – delish! I served it with romaine and kale, plus a tomato from the garden. We aren’t raw kale fans just yet, but I will try your other kale based salad recipes to see if we can make it work in our house! Thanks for all the tasty recipes you post — I’m glad I found your blog!

    1. Post

      Yaay Emily! Another recipe success. I’m so happy to hear it and to hear that you keep trying so many recipes :) This salad is hard for those that are new to kale as you can’t really massage the kale leaves. Try the lacinato or the kale salad with ricotta salata, both of those rock and the cheese in them really helps mask the kale flavor. Thanks for stopping by and saying hi girl! xoxo, Jackie

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  21. Charity

    Another Chicago girl loves this recipe! This is should be titled “Husband friendly Caesar salad” for me. I bookmarked this to make and told my husband who promptly told me he hates Caesar salad. He tried it anyway since he is sweet and he loved it! I’ve made it twice in the past month or so. I like it with whole grain dijon mustard from Maille and I added a bit more lemon juice. It thickened up in the fridge so I just added a bit of water to get it to the consistency I wanted.

    1. Post

      Hi Charity! Awesome! I’m so happy to hear that this dressing turned your hubby from a caesar hating man into a caesar salad loving man! I’ve thought about changing the title to “anchovy and egg free caesar dressing” since that’s what people dislike most about caesar dressings. I love the addition of using whole-grain Dijon, I’m not sure how my kids would feel about it, but you never know they might actually like it. Yes, the dressing does thicken up a bit in the fridge. I usually take it out a bit before I use it so that it warms up and then I whisk away and it thins out pretty nice, but adding water works great as well. I do that with some of my soups from time to time. Glad to hear that I have a fan in Chicago! I hope to visit that city someday! :) xoxo, Jackie

  22. Anonymous

    I made this dressing today using coarse dijon mustard, which made the dressing taste REALLY mustardy. I am kicking myself for not using regular dijon and so wanted to share tip with others. Can’t wait to try it again to get it right because it looks and sounds DELICIOUS.

  23. Kyla

    YUM!!! I’ve wanted to try this for awhile, but was very skeptical where my kids are concerned. I finally remembered to try it tonight and goodness, it was a HIT!! I LOVE the tang of fresh garlic, and I thought for sure my picky and sensitive Shea would hate the dressing and find it too “spicy.” She made a frowny face at first bite, but I encouraged her to try another as the “spice” doesn’t linger. What do you know? She gobbled the entire thing and called it good! And my husband?? Where salads and vegetables are concerned, he’s like a toddler, although your kale salad converted him (yay) on that front. He said (and I quote), “I could gobble up bowls and bowls of salad with this dressing. I’m not even kidding.” He was thrilled when I told him I had leftovers. Another recipe, another success!! THANK YOU!! Oh, and we ate our salad with a side of popovers and veggie quiche. Perfect!

    1. Post

      Hi Kyla! Yippee! I’m so happy that you finally tried this salad and that it was a BIG success. You know that makes my heart happy! Maybe I should call it kid friendly and hubby friendly salad 😉 I’m happy to hear that my salads are converting your hubby into a veggie liking dude! Try the roasted broccoli on him next. I haven’t had one kid or “toddler” adult pass that up 😉 Thanks so much for the rave review sweetie and for taking the time to write such a sweet comment! You rock! xoxo, Jacquelyn

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