kale caesar salad with pickled onions + homemade breadcrumbs // a vegan version

When did kale become so cool? 

I mean, seriously. Did anyone even know about kale 5 years ago?

Was anyone making kale chips, or kale smoothies?

Would anyone even touch kale with a 10 foot pole?

I was once terrified of kale. Now ... I cannot get enough. 

If you say the word 'kale' nowadays, people get giddy. You know I do. 

Maybe it's because it is because we finally know what to do with it. We're comfortable, and acquainted. We finally know how to make it taste really really good. 

Maybe it's also because it is really really good for you + me + the people we feed it to. Calcium, vitamin C and fiber are things that make our bodies happy, and kale is loaded with these and other wonderful things. Kale makes our bodies happy. 

Kale caesar salad is just one of the hundreds of recipes I've been using to feed my kale addiction. Kale is just so great in a salad, if you know how to work it. It's not a wimpy green. It does not wilt or sag easily, and that's a good thing. Massaging it breaks it down, and chopping it small makes it easier to eat. 

I love a good ceasar salad, don't you? But I don't really love all of the cheese and bad calories it usually has in it. This version I've been working with has that same awesome caesar salad taste, without the dairy or the anchovies. You'd never know the difference.

Lastly, let's chat about these homemade breadcrumbs. I know I've been posting a lot of gluten-free recipes on here, so I don't want to leave out my GF friends. You can always make homemade GF breadcrumbs using your favorite GF bread. Or, if you want to skip the bread all together, any kind of toasted nut or seed would work well to get that contrast of texture. 


kale caesar salad



about 8-10 large kale leaves, center ribs removed and chopped finely

for the breadcrumbs:
about 2 cups of torn sourdough bread (stale is best, but if you only have fresh that's okay)
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of dried parsley
1 large pinch of red pepper flakes
1 clove of garlic, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

for the dressing:
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of vegan mayo (or regular mayo if you prefer)
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice 
1 tablespoon of whole grain dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of vegan (or non-vegan) Worcestershire sauce  
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
pepper, to taste

for quick pickled onions:
about 1/3 cup of thinly sliced red onion (I like to use a mandolin to get them really thin)
1/2 cup of red or white wine vinegar


Start by pickling the onion:

  • Place the sliced onion and vinegar together in a small bowl and set aside until your ready to assemble the salad. 

Make the breadcrumbs:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350º.
  • Place the torn bread onto a sheet pan and toss with a drizzle of olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. 
  • Cook in the oven for 5 minutes for stale bread or for 10-12 for fresh bread. Watch this carefully because cooking times will vary depending on your oven / bread state. You want you bread to be toasted, just beginning to brown.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you make the dressing. 

To make the dressing:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing. Taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. 
  • Set aside (or refrigerate if it is going to be a while) until salad assembly. 

Finish making the breadcrumbs:

  • Place the toasted bread and the parsley, red pepper, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse several times until you have a good even-sized breadcrumb mixture. Taste and adjust any seasoning accordingly. 

Assemble the salad:

  • In a large bowl, toss and massage the kale leaves with the dressing. Add a little at a time, you do not want to over-dress the salad. You might end up with extra dressing, and that is okay. You can keep it in an air tight container the fridge for about 5 days. 
  • Add in the breadcrumbs, again, little by little until you feel there are enough. I like to toss some of the breadcrumbs in with the salad, and finish with some on top once it is plated. 
  • Then, strain the onions and place them on top. 
  • Once the salad is dressed, serve immediately. 
  • You can make this ahead of time (and not dress the salad) and assemble when you are ready to serve. The ingredients will keep for a couple of days in air-tight containers in the fridge.