Best Healthy Vegan Caesar Salad with Kale and Chickpeas (Oil Free)
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This Vegan Kale Caesar Salad with cripsy chickpeas and a creamy dairy-free dressing is the only plant-based Caesar recipe you need. Salt, savory, crunchy, and full of nutrients: what could be better?
This kale caesar is sure to make its way into your weekly menu rotation. This is my go to salad when I don’t know what to make for lunch or dinner when kale is in season at the farmer’s market.
You know kale is good for you. And thanks to this salad, it now tastes great too.
This meal is a nutrient powerhouse. It’s packed with plant protein, healthy fats, and tons of flavour, making it a great I-don’t-know-what-to-eat meal. The best part is, the recipe comes together SO quickly!
This vegan caesar dressing recipe is vegan, gluten-free, oil free, nut free and soy free.
How to Make Vegan Caesar Dressing
Making dressings at home can seem intimidating and inconvenient, especially with all the ready-made dressings at the grocery store. But I promise it’s worth it and really easy.
Plus, when you make your own salad dressing, you’re in control. Of the ingredients (so no highly-processed oils and refined sugars), but also the consistency and flavor.
By the way, this caesar dressing takes less than 5 minutes.
And it stores well too! You can make a large batch in advance to last you the week, too!
Ingredients for Vegan Kale Caesar
This Vegan Kale Caesar Salad is made with a handful of simple ingredients:
- Kale. Rich in nutrients and surprisingly high in protein. Yup! That’s right, kale is protein-rich and it’s also high in fiber, folate, iron, and vitamins A, K, and C, just to name a few. I like lacinato kale here to scoop up the dressing, but you can use any kind of kale.
- Romaine. I like the lighter texture and cruch of romaine to compliment dark, leafy kale.
- Tahini. This sesame paste adds creaminess to this dressing, and is a great source of healthy fats that is essential for helping your body absorb all the nutrients from our salad ingredients. It’s also quite high in protein too, as well as copper, phosphorus and selenium.
- Garlic. Fresh is best.
- Nutritional Yeast. This is commonly used to mimic a cheesy and savoury flavour in vegan cooking. And guess what? It’s also high in protein, packing 8 grams of protein in in just 2 tablespoons.
- Chickpeas for protein.
- Seasonings. Added flavor in this salad and dressing come from onion powder, smoked paprika, fresh lemon juice, and Dijon mustard.
Tips for Success
While a salad is simple to put together, there are so many little things you can do to really upgrade it so that it tastes like a restaurant salad.
Cleaning Your Greens
First, be sure to properly clean your greens. I like to cut the stem off of the romaine head, then rinse the leaves from top to bottom so the water trickles downwards. A lot of dirt and bugs get caught toward the base of the lettuce. I repeat the same with my kale bunch.
After a quick rinse, I like to submerge the lettuce into a large bowl of cold water with ice cubes. Giving your greens an ice bath helps to crisp them up, and keeps them much more firm. You can even do this to sort of revive some older, or about-to-go-off greens.
Next, if you have a salad spinner, i recommend spinning the lettuce so it’s as dry as possible. Excess water will dilute the dressing, and the dressing won’t cling as nicely. If you don’t have a salad spinner, You can lay all your leaves out on a large kitchen towel and pat dry.
Prep and Massage the Greens
Next, I like to finely chop the kale and romaine into nice ribbons. Since romaine doesn’t necessarily need to be massaged, I recommend massaging the kale first, then adding it to the bowl with your romaine.
That’s right–massage your kale. I know it sounds silly when people tell you to massage your kale, but believe me, it makes a huge difference. It not only softens your kale, making it less bitter, and easier to digest, but also makes it easier to chew. Kale is a tougher green, so don’t skip this step!
Other Topping Ideas
For extra crunch and flavour, you could add croutons to the salad. I like to take gluten free bread that’s a day or two old. I’ll chop it into bite-sized pieces, toss in a touch of oil, garlic powder, chili flakes, and salt. Then air-fry or bake until crisp.
Make-Ahead Vegan Kale Salad
If you want to meal prep this salad and Caesar dressing, you certainly can. Feel free to double, triple, or quadruple the recipe.
But don’t dress the salad ahead of time. Store the composed salad and the dressing separately, then toss right before eating. This will keep your greens fresh!
More Recipes to Tru
- Creamy Cashew Broccoli Salad
- 10 Tahini Recipes (Sweet and Savoury)
- Avocado Tahini Pesto Sauce
- Tempeh Tenders (these are DELICIOUS atop this salad!)
- Pesto Power Salad
If you try this recipe out, tag me on Instagram @veggiekins so I can see your delicious re-creations and for a chance to be featured! As always, I love when you share your reviews in the comments below, and if you make any fun substitutions, let me know how it worked out below too!
Vegan Kale Caesar Salad + Garlicky Chickpeas (vegan, gf, oilfree)
- 6-7 stems lacinato kale
- 1 head romaine lettuce
- 4 heaping tablespoons tahini
- 1/4 cup water adjust to suit how thick or thin you like your dressing
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- jucie of 1 lemon
- 1 clove garlic grated (or use 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
- 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons white miso paste optional, but adds great savoury flavour
- salt/black pepper to taste
- 1 15- oz can of chickpeas rinsed and drained
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1 clove of garlic finely minced or 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- pinch of smoked paprika
- pinch of salt
- optional additions to really caesar it up: top with some vegan parmesan capers, red onion, or dulse flakes to mimic anchovy.
- Crispy chickpeas
- Preheat oven to 400F and start preparing your chickpeas.
- Toss chickpeas in a bowl along with lemon juice and seasonings to coat. Feel free to play with seasonings of your choice here, and you can use olive oil if you prefer for extra crisp!
- Spread coated chickpeas on a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 30-35 minutes, until golden brown, checking in every 15 minuets or so and tossing. If you prefer it crispier, feel free to cook until desired crunch level is reached! You can also use an air-fryer and cook at 395F for about 7-9 minutes, or until crisp.
- Wash your kale stalks and romaine and add to a bowl with ice cubes and water to crisp up, then pat dry with a kitchen towel, or use a salad spinner.
- Remove the tough stem at the base of each kale stem, cutting about 2 inches off the bottom of stalks (or as needed) and then continue to make cuts perpendicular to the kale stalk, cutting fine strips. If using curly kale, de-stem your kale to remove the tough stalk in the center and chop. Once kale is chopped, give it a quick massage with your hands to soften.
- Repeat with your romaine, finely slicing into thin ribbons (but no need to massage). Add all your chopped greens to a large mixing bowl.
- In a separate bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and whisk together until smooth, adding additional water if you'd like to thin out, and any additional seasoning to taste.
- Pour dressing on top of the chopped greens and massage to coat with your hands.
- Plate your kale and top with chickpeas, croutons and a generous grating of macadamia nut or vegan parmesan, and cracked black pepper.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
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