This Kale Caesar Salad is one of my favorite ways to serve kale. It’s tossed in a delicious vegan Caesar salad dressing, that gets its creaminess from tahini, and it couldn’t be easier!
Why Use Kale in a Caesar salad?
Kale is a nutritional powerhouse loaded with iron, vitamin K, and antioxidants, but its chewy texture and dark-leafy-green-flavor can sometimes be a bit intimidating.
That’s why I’m so excited to share this vegan Kale Caesar Salad, because it’s making me crave kale on a near-daily basis.
The Easiest Caesar Salad Dressing (No Eggs!)
This untraditional Caesar dressing gets its creaminess from raw tahini, a paste made of ground raw sesame seeds (in most cases, no oil is added).
Sesame seeds are naturally high in calcium, and their mild flavor blends seamlessly into this garlicky dressing. Paired with fresh garlic, a splash of lemon juice, and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper, this dressing can be stirred together in minutes and compliments the flavor of raw kale perfectly.
Making Chickpea “Croutons”
This salad gets another nutritional upgrade by using garlic roasted chickpeas as a grain-free swap for croutons. Chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, are packed with plant-based protein and fiber, which can help keep your blood sugar levels stable and aid in weight loss.
Chickpeas, like many other pulses, may also help balance cholesterol levels and protect again heart disease, while providing essential nutrients like iron, zinc, folate, and B vitamins.
The chickpeas take 45 minutes to roast to crispy perfection, they take only a few minutes of hands-on preparation so you won’t have to spend too much time in your kitchen. Just toss in a bit of olive oil and garlic, pour them into a pan, and bake!
You can make them as soft or as crunchy as you like. (Start checking on them around the 30-minute mark if you don’t want them to be too crisp.)
Kale Caesar Salad with Tahini Dressing
Garlic Roasted Chickpeas
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15-ounce can, drained)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Kale Caesar Salad
- 1/4 cup raw tahini
- 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/2 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound lacinato kale (about 6 cups)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. To prepare the Garlic Roasted Chickpeas, toss the cooked chickpeas with olive oil, garlic, and salt in a large bowl, then pour them into a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange them into a single layer, then bake until crisp, about 30 to 40 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through the cooking cycle.
- While the chickpeas are baking, prepare the dressing. Stir together the tahini, lemon juice, water, garlic, mustard, salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir until smooth and adjust any seasonings as you like.
- To assemble the salad, remove the tough stems from the kale leaves, and cut the kale into small pieces. Toss the leaves with the dressing and let them marinate while you wait for the chickpeas to be done.
- When the chickpeas are done roasting, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes. Sprinkle them generously over the kale salad and serve. Leftovers can be stored separately in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Keep in mind that roasted chickpeas don't have the best texture when chilled, so if you want to make this in advance, you may want to use plain drained and rinsed canned chickpeas, instead.
Nutrition information is automatically generated using an online nutrition calculator, and is an estimate, not a guarantee. For more accurate results, be sure to check the labels on your ingredients at home.
For more pulse-based recipes, you might enjoy:
- Vegan Flourless Black Bean Brownies
- Lentil Potluck Salad
- Lentil, Kale & Quinoa Stew
- Instant Pot Red Lentil Curry
- Black Bean & Sweet Potato Enchiladas
- Black Bean Gingerbread Bars
- White Bean Maple Pecan Blondies
Questions and Reviews
Looks fantastic! Really seeking out nutritious options this summer and I am so struggling to loose the baby fat after having my 3rd 6 weeks ago. I’m nursing and want to ensure my new son is getting healthy food and I’m getting little sleep so I know eating healthy food (yes Kale!) is that much more important to fuel my weary bones these days. Thanks!
Made this tonight. I thought I had chickpeas but discovered, too late, that I only had cannellini. It worked very well (though the cannellini beans didn’t need to cook as long)! Whoa, whoa, whoa, this recipe is SO GOOD, and the dressing is simply perfect. I browned a handful small pieces of bread to make croutons for some added crunch. Thank you so much for your amazing and SIMPLE recipes. I think I’ve made 5 by now and they have all been hits. Without fail, they elicit an enthusiastic, “tasty”! from my husband, without him knowing beforehand that they come from you. You’ve made my nights easier + better. 🙂
Looks so good! Question, how much kale is typically in a bunch?
I just put one on my food scale and it’s about 1/2 pound. 🙂
Ok, thank you!
Thank you so much for that! We grow our own kale and it is much larger than store bought. This was tremendously helpful especially since I plan to double the recipe
I am so impressed with how spot on this dressing is. Great recipe!
Just made this tonight for dinner- delicious! the dressing and chickpeas were perfect (though i did add extra garlic as 2 cloves was not enough for my personal taste)! will definitely be making this again and recommend!
Thanks for letting me know! I’m glad you enjoyed it. 🙂
This looks amazing! As its only me at home I like to prep ahead for the week. When I make this can I add the dressing to the kale and then store for a few days or is it better to keep them separate?
I think it’s a little better if you keep the dressing and kale separate. The kale is pretty sturdy, but I think it gets a little slimy if it sits in dressing for more than a day or so.
This is an excellent salad.! Creamy and full of flavor. The roasted chickpeas add a wonderful crunch to replace croutons.
I realized I didn’t have dijon mustard when I started to make this, so I subsituted Herbal Gatherings Mustard, and it was awesome. It gave the dressing a little kick; if you like a little heat in your food, like I do, you will love it. I also added radishes and an avocado. YUM!
Hi there megan
this is a wonderful recipe and i think you’re a fantastic chef (tried other recipes too from your site).
I just wondered though -how many grams of tahini is it that you’re adding. according to my uk 1/4 cup measurement it’s approx 57g, however the calories on my fitness pal for the recipe come out higher per portion. it’s the tahini that seems to be the most calorific.
hope to hear from you.
thanks so much.
I’ll have to weigh the tahini the next time I make it! Online nutritional calculators can vary wildly, so it’s possible that could account for differences in calories, too.
Made it for dinner tonight. Even my husband liked it. I didn’t have tahini so I checked on line and used natural peanut butter mixed with sesame oil as a substitute. It was delicious.
Ok so I don’t love kale and the last time I used tahini in a recipe I swore never again but I decided to give this a try and I am OBSESSED!! It all works together so well. I love it even more the next day after the kale has softened in the dressing a bit. I keep the chickpeas separate so the stay crunchy. Such a quick and easy meal I will make over and over again!!!
Love your site!!! And so does my family!! They aren’t Vegan like me, yet, but your recipes have garnished lots of enthusiasm to eat like mom! Thank you! Quick question on the Tahini, can I use store bought Tahini, is that what is meant by “Raw Tahini”?
I love this recipe. It’s a great flavor combination.
Hi! Can you make the dressing a few days ahead?
Love this salad. Your recipe helped me perfect mine! I add capers and some of the brine to the dressing. I also love experimenting with the spices on the chickpeas. Smoked paprika has become a favorite. And sometimes I sprinkle some nutritional yeast on the salad for some cheesy flavor. I also like massaging the dressing into the kale!
I added nutritional yeast and anchovies and it was sheer perfection <3
We made this last night and the whole family enjoyed it. The crunchy chickpeas were a nice touch. Sliced tomatoes on the side helped balance the flavors. We’ll definitely make this again.
what makes it so high in sodium?
The nutrition information is automatically calculated, so I can’t see where the numbers are coming from, but my guess is that the nutrition calculator might have used a can of chickpeas that was high in sodium. I always buy no-salt canned beans, and rinse them well, and you can control the rest of the sodium by how much salt you add to the recipe.
What makes this a ‘Caesar’ salad? Because it contains lemon juice, mustard and garlic? You may want to call this a caesar- like dressing, but it is Not a caesar dressing.
The flavor reminds me of Caesar salads I grew up eating. (Which probably didn’t have any anchovies in them, either.) But, feel free to find another recipe if you need a more traditional version. There are millions of variations out there!
I love this recipe! We like to mix it up and add more toppings like sweet potato, walnuts, and dried cranberries.
But every time I make it, the tahini dressing seizes up when I add the lemon juice… I’ve tried fresh and bottled lemon. It’s still delicious, but I want to figure out how to get smooth dressing! Not a paste lol
I think the trick is to keep adding water, just a tiny bit at a time, to the dressing until it smooths out again. And use a whisk to stir it if you can, because that speeds things along.
Hi Megan–I keep making recipes from your site and thinking “How do those few ingredients add up to something so delicious??” This is another one! The dressing is absolutely delicious and the roasted garbanzos really hit the spot.
The one thing I would recommend is letting the kale marinate in the dressing overnight, it improves the texture of the kale and makes the salad next-level delicious.
Thanks for the amazing recipes!
LOVED this and my husband loved it too. I made two changes — I added a cup of cooked quinoa to the salad and I added vegan worchestershire (about 1tbsp) to the dressing. I added the dressing to the salad maybe 3 hours before dinner and it was PERFECT once we sat down for it. Thanks so much!!
This is soooo good. Love the dressing!
Made this for lunch and it was phenomenal. The dressing makes this taste so much better. I added a bit of nutritional yeast to it, but honestly I felt that it was fine leaving it out too. Delicious!