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Kale Caesar Salad

May 23, 2024

If there’s Caesar Salad on the menu, we’re going to order it. And if it’s a Kale Caesar with parmesan crisps, there’s no stopping us. Luckily our riff on the classic is easy to make at home.

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kale caesar salad made with homemade caesar dressing, avocado, toasted panko breadcrumbs and parmesan in a bowl with a fork
Photography by Gayle McLeod

Our Best Kale Caesar Recipe

The Caesar salad is Chef Caesar Cardini’s gift to culinary culture that just keeps giving. We love a classic Caesar Salad, traditionally made with romaine lettuce, parmesan and croutons and classic Caesar Dressing. We’ve made it The Modern Proper with a little crispy Parmesan frico and toasted panko breadcrumbs and added fresh creamy avocado slices. Serve this on its own, or with Garlic Bread and a big scoop of Mushroom Lasagna or the like.

romaine lettuce, avocado, parmesan, egg yolks, anchovies, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and worcestershire in bowls

Ingredients You’ll Need To Make A Crunchy Kale Caesar Dressing

A good Caesar salad can be judged by its dressing. We present our best reason to love anchovies! In addition to Italian kale (aka lacinato) and other salad goodies, you’ll need the following ingredients to make Kale Caesar dressing (it’s basically two of everything, to make it easy):

  • Egg yolks – These will help thicken and emulsify the dressing.

  • Anchovy filets – Divisive, we know, but it’s not Caesar salad without them.

  • Garlic – If it doesn’t make your tongue tingle, you haven’t added enough!

  • Worcestershire sauce – This underlines the umami from the anchovies, and also adds a little tart sweetness.

tablespoon sized piles of grated parmesan cheese on a parchment lined baking sheet
Baked parmesan crisps on a parchment lined baking sheet
Olive oil toasted panko breadcrumbs in a skillet
lemon juice being poured on top of chopped kale in a bowl

How To Make A Kale Caesar Salad

  • Make the Parmesan crisps – Drop finely grated Parmesan cheese by the tablespoon onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. A handheld cheese grater makes this a cinch. Bake for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.

  • Toast the panko in olive oil until it’s a nutty brown. We like panko instead of croutons, because it adds a petite crunch.

  • How to massage kale for Caesar salad – Get in there with both hands and gently rub the kale leaves with the lemon juice until tender and glossy.

  • Make the dressing in a blender or food processor.

  • Dress the salad. Top with toasted panko, avocado, Parmesan crisps, and pepper to serve.

egg yolks, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice and salt in the jar of a blender
egg yolks, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, salt, worcestershire and pepper in the jar of a blender
kale, homemade caesar salad, and parmesan crisps tossed in a bowl with tongs
kale caesar salad made with homemade caesar dressing, avocado, toasted panko breadcrumbs and parmesan in a bowl with a fork

How to Store Kale Caesar + Tips

  • Kale is heartier than romaine and other lettuces, but you’ll still want to eat leftovers within a day or two. Unfortunately, we don’t recommend freezing this salad.

  • There aren’t really any substitutions to be made to kale Caesar, but there are some fine additions to be made like adding Shredded Chicken or Baked Salmon.

  • Some like a spicy kale Caesar, in which case you could add up to a tablespoon of your favorite chili oil to the dressing.

  • And hey, if you miss the romaine lettuce, you could always chop some up and make a kale-romaine blend.

kale caesar salad made with homemade caesar dressing, avocado, toasted panko breadcrumbs and parmesan in a bowl with a fork

Love Kale? Here’s More Kale Recipes To Cook + Enjoy

For more recipe inspiration you can follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest. Have you tried this recipe? We love when you share your meals. Tag us on Instagram using #themodernproper. Happy cooking!

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Kale Caesar Salad

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time:  10 min
  • Cook Time:  10 min
  • Calories: 518

Ingredients

Salad

  • ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 6 cups Italian kale, stems removed and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and diced
  • Caesar dressing

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F with a rack in the center position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Make the salad. Add 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining Parmesan, spacing each pile about ½ inch apart. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden. Let cool, then break up into bite size pieces.

  3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once the oil is glistening, add the panko, then reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 3 minutes.

  4. In a large bowl massage the kale with the lemon juice until tender and glossy.

  5. Make the dressing. In the base of a blender or food processor, combine the yolks, anchovies, garlic, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, and salt. Blend until combined, about 30 seconds. Slowly pour in the oil until dressing has thickened, then add the remaining lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, and black pepper and blend until smooth.

  6. Add the dressing and half of the Parmesan crisps to the bowl with the kale and toss to combine. Top with toasted panko, avocado, remaining Parmesan crisps, and pepper to serve.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories518
  • Protein12 g
  • Carbohydrates22 g
  • Total Fat50 g
  • Dietary Fiber6 g
  • Cholesterol105 mg
  • sodium622 mg
  • Total Sugars4 g

Kale Caesar Salad

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Leah

    Should you be using raw or dry roasted macadamia nuts? Thanks!

    Either!

  • lindsay

    How long can the ceasar dressing be kept? I have some leftover from a salad. Thank you

    I would only keep it for 1 week as long as it has a tight fitting lid and is refrigerated.

  • Blair

    Love this!!

    Thanks Blair, this is one of our favs!

  • Kay

    This was a delicious salad. Panko breadcrumbs are just a dream of the perfect crunchy texture in salad and the homemade dressing is so worth the extra 5- 10 minutes.

    Thanks Kay, so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Cathy

    My husband and I are doing Whole30 for the second time and this was our first dinner. We LOVE this salad. I used cashews for the vegan cheese crumble as we didn't have any macadamias on hand and they are addictive- definitely won't be lasting for two weeks in our house. Thank you!!

    Thanks Cathy, we are so glad you loved this!