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Let me tell you about my Kale Caesar...

I have no idea how this salad became my personality but after making it a few times, it is now known in my family that if there is an event- I am bringing a kale caesar. It is a great way to spice up your traditional salad and make kale actually enjoyable for most people! If you have had my kale salad before you know there are a few key tricks that make it so tasty! Make sure to follow them below to make yours just as tasty.

The Kale.

I prefer to use curly green kale or "lacinato" kale as they are the heartiest (see picture below). I first wash and dry the leaves, then de-stem the kale to get rid of the hard chewy pieces. Then I will chop the leaves into bite sized pieces. No one wants a giant, dressing covered, leaf hitting them in the face while they are trying to have a conversation! Next I will massage the kale with my hands, just to break down some of the tougher leaves and make it easier to eat, this kale really needs some work but it sure is worth it!

The Croutons.

Now I have been spoiled with a brother who makes me fresh sourdough bread but any store bought will do. I prefer to cut mine into very small chunks and maybe tear some up too so they aren't all the same. I prefer 1/2in cubes or smaller. Almost similar to more of a gremolata. I usually use the bread fresh or a little stale, coat with some olive oil, garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then bake at 375 for 10 min, toss, then for another 5 or until golden brown!

The Dressing.

Now I know I call this a "Caesar" because my original intent for this dressing was to be a "Caesar" but it has almost gone in it's own direction since. Instead of using an egg yolk and oil I use a vegan mayonnaise to make it easy. I still add some dijon and lemon juice to give it that caesar style but also add nutritional yeast for some umami and maple syrup actually to cut the acidity. Not to mention the power that mashed avocado holds in this dressing. Seriously, let me know if you try! This dressing keeps in the fridge for 4 days.

The Add-Ins.

Every time I make this salad it is a tiny bit different but I have seasonal favorites. For the fall and winter I love adding some roasted butternut squash and toasted pepita seeds. This would also be great with some cubed apple or golden raisins for something sweet. Or you can even add some chunks of gorgonzola or feta for a creamy salty touch! For spring and summer my go-to is always to add some fresh sweet corn cut right off the cob. Let me know if you add anything thing else that is a must try!

Me, Dory the Wheaten, and my Kale Caesar!



Time: 15 min prep | 20 min cook

Yield: 6-8 servings


2 bunches of green curly or lacinato "dino" kale

1/4 cup pepita seeds or sub pine nuts

1/2 cup shredded parmesan or sub vegan parmesan

For the Sourdough Croutons

1/4 of a loaf of sourdough ~ 4 slices, roughly chopped into 1/2 in cubes

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

For the Caesar Dressing:

1 cup of vegan mayonnaise

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp maple syrup

3 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp + 1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 small avocado or 1/2 large, mashed well

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Seasonal Add-Ins

For the fall/ Winter:

1 cup of cubed, roasted butternut squash

1/2 cup of pomegranate arils or 1 large pink lady apple, diced

1/4 cup goat cheese

For the Spring/ Summer

1 ear of fresh, sweet corn


For the Sourdough Croutons

Preheat your oven to 375F.

Tear/ cube the sourdough into 3/4-1/2inch cubes or smaller (think bite sized). Toss in a bowl with oil and seasonings. Add to a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, toss, then bake for another 5-10 or until golden. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

For the Pepita Seeds/ Pine Nuts

In a dry pan over medium-low heat, toast your seeds, tossing every minute to not let them burn. Once golden remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.

For the Dressing

In the base of your salad bowl, start by mashing the avocado with the lemon juice as well as you can with a fork. Next add the remaining ingredients and whisk till well combined. If it is too thick you can add 1-2 tbsp of water to make it a bit looser so it can coat the kale easier.

For the Kale

First wash and dry the leaves, then de-stem using a knife slicing along the spine or pulling the leaves off with your hands to get rid of the hard chewy pieces. Then, chop the leaves into bite sized pieces/ strips. Next, massage the kale with your hands until it is softer and more broken down.


If you are serving the salad immediately...

If you are going to serve simply toss the kale with the dressing until all leaves are evenly coated. Then add your croutons, pine nuts/ pepita seeds, parmesan, and optional add-ins and toss again.

If you are taking the salad to a gathering...

Keep your dressing in the base of the bowl, layer the kale on top, then add the croutons, pepita seeds/ pine nuts, parmesan, and optional add ins on top of the kale. Bring as is to your gathering then give it a good toss right before serving so that everything is very well coated.

If you are making ahead of time...

You can place the dressing, parmesan, and the kale in the same bowl but do not toss. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Leave the croutons and seeds out so they stay room temp. Toss before serving. I would only prep this salad in the morning or just chop the kale the night before. I wouldn't make the croutons too early as they might get to hard.

This salad will keep for 1-2 days but usually never lasts that long in my house!


Check out my Shaved Brussels Caesar OR The Best Kale Salad for something just as tasty!



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What is a Registered Dietitian?

A food and nutrition expert who can work in a wide variety of employment settings, including health care, business and industry, community/public health, education, research, government agencies and private practice. RDNs are accredited health professionals that must meet state and government regulations to maintain their credential in addition to completing continuing education. RDNs can practice something called Medical Nutrition Therapy to improve the health of those who suffer from chronic diseases. 

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