The Best Kale Caesar Salad You’ll Ever Have

Kale is a superfood. Kale is on every restaurant menu. According to a recent New York Times article, kale is hot in New York social circles. (Although this Onion headline made me laugh out loud.) Are you a fan? It’s delicious and feels so healthy. Phoebe of Feed Me Phoebe has a killer recipe for a kale caesar salad. Who’s in? Here’s how to whip one up…

The Best Kale Salad You’ll Ever Have
by Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe

Most people can agree that comfort food doesn’t usually involve lettuce. But if you top lettuce with creamy dressing and a large handful of Parmesan, that’s another story entirely. I crave this Caesar salad as much as fried chicken, and with a few tweaks here and there, it’s healthier than the classic versions you’re used to, in addition to being absolutely delicious.

What makes this kale Caesar both healthier and tastier than any you’ve ever eaten is the dressing. There’s no egg and not much cheese—instead, it gets its creamy Caesar-like texture from a whole head of roasted garlic, which acts as an emulsifier, thickener, and general yumminess-inducer. It gets its funky, punchy Caesar flavor from the capers, anchovies and Dijon. Dig in!

Recipe: Kale Caesar Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing
Makes 4 side servings

You’ll need:

1 bunch dinosaur or lacinato kale
1/4 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs or croutons
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for sprinkling over salad
1/2 cup roasted garlic Caesar dressing (recipe follows—this salad would also taste great with Bagna Cauda Vinaigrette or Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette)

Remove the thick stalks from the center of the kale. Pile the leaves on top of one another and roll together into a cigar. Cut the kale into thin ribbons.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the breadcrumbs together with the olive oil in a small mixing bowl and spread in an even layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Toast in the oven until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the kale together with the dressing. Add the Parmesan cheese and toss again. Divide among four plates, and top with the breadcrumbs, plus a bit more cheese, if you’d like.

For the Roasted Garlic Caesar Dressing (makes about 3/4 cup):

1 head garlic
Olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1 tbsp. capers
2 anchovy filets
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Remove the outer layers from the head of garlic so the individual cloves are exposed. Chop off the top 1/4 inch of the head so you can see the raw cloves within their skins.

Place on a 9×13 sheet of foil, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap so the packet is tightly sealed. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until the cloves are soft to the touch. Remove from the foil packet and allow to cool.

When cool enough to touch, squeeze the cloves out of their skins and add to a food processor. Puree the garlic along with the lemon juice, mustard, salt, and 1/3 cup olive oil. Taste and add more oil as necessary to reach the consistency you like. (This should be a thick dressing, with a punch of acidity.) Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Yum! Thank you, Phoebe!

P.S. More best recipes, including crunchy roast potatoes and avocado salad.

(Photos and recipe by Phoebe Lapine of Feed Me Phoebe. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series.)

  1. Kristie Smith says...

    Do the capers get blended in with the dressing as well?

    • planofoodie says...

      great question, I’m wondering the same thing.

  2. Heather says...

    Truly the best kale Caesar!! I’ve made close to hundreds of times by now:) Being gluten free I toss with toasted pepitas and it is always a huge hit!!

  3. Genevieve says...

    The dressing is sublime….

  4. Cheri Johnson says...

    Just picked my first batch of dinosaur kale from my garden. Yours is the only recipe I use over and over. I have shared this recipe with all my friends and have brought it church picnics. I have even added a hard boiled egg to the blender to add to its richness. The kale leaves get softer as the dressing macerates, which is good! Thank you for this recipe!

  5. I have made this multiple times, each to rave reviews. I used toasted pine nuts rather than croutons and it’s fantastic. Also, Sprouts sells anchovy-wrapped capers which is a convenient time saver

  6. Wow!! This salad looks amazing! I’m so glad I stumbled across your blog.

  7. I think the capers and anchovies definitely go in with the dressing. You can see the capers in the food processor in the top pic with the roasted garlic.

    • planofoodie says...

      Thank you! I didn’t notice that in the picture! I’m making this tonight and I can’t wait!

  8. So what to do with the capers and anchovies? Throw them on top? Integrate to dressing?

  9. Making this now! And wondering, where in the world do the capers and anchovies go??

  10. looks yummy!!! i’m gonna tell mom to try this recipe

  11. MMMMMMM!!! But…when do we put in the anchovies and capers?

    • good question! I’m left wondering that, as well!

  12. I love kale salad because is crunchy, colorful and delicious. The whole family enjoyed it when I made kale salad recently and I think your’s will to. The dressing adds a flavorful punch that really perks up the vegetables and fruit.

    Wholesale Salad Dressing

  13. Mike and I adore kale. I’m so pathetically in love with it, our sister-in-law gifted him a tshirt from Whole Foods that reads “kale” on the front and most days that shirt turns me on like no other in closet. Ha ha.
    We have a very similar salad recipe and love. Thanks for sharing.
    xo dina

  14. I’ve recently gotten into smoothies and juices to up my leafy green intake – I’m a fan of kale, chard, and the rest, but honestly if you balance the veggies out with some good fruits, you can’t even taste ’em. My most recent mix is banana, red chard, carrots, strawberries, blackberries, and apple + ginger juice. Seriously amazing and great for you!

  15. Just visited Phoebe’s website to check out her other recipes – – really good confessional writing and even better recipes! (I remember seeing her on Barefoot Contessa)

  16. Raw kale is addictive! I have a few favourite dressings for it but I’ll definitely try this! Thanks for posting it.

  17. I wish it was just “the Best Ceaesar Salad You’ll Ever Have” – I like the original idea of the best of the best of classic recipes.

    There was my (uninvited I know) two cents haha. Does look yummy though!

  18. One of the best tips I’ve seen for using regular kale in a salad is to cut it into thin strips, add your dressing to marinade for about 30 minutes, and every 10 minutes or so mix the salad and massage the kale (I use the back of a wooden spoon and press it against the sides of the bowl). This way you have tender kale as the acid in the dressing and the “massage” breaks down the toughness.

  19. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that Kale is all the rage here in Oregon. Let’s be honest. By itself, it’s terrible. But mixed in with other things? Yum!

    I usually blend kale into some kind of smoothie (my current favorite is kale, strawberry, and beet).

    Thanks for the recipe!

  20. They served kale at my college’s lunchroom. They didn’t do anything to it though and it just tasted like grass. I know it’s great for you though, and there are ways to make it taste great! I’ll have to try out this recipe.

    I just started my own blog!

    xo Molly

  21. On the fence about the kale, but I might have to try making that dressing – yum!

  22. I loooove love love Caesar salad and this dressing is a nice light take on my calorie-laden mayo version. Thanks!

  23. Gosh, that sounds incredible! My Grandma used to tell me about how when she was little her Mum used to cook kale, and then give all the children little cups of kale cooking water to drink with a dash of vinegar! She knew it was a superfood, even 75 odd years ago! :)

  24. “But if you top lettuce with creamy dressing and a large handful of Parmesan…” literally made my mouth water…

  25. this looks perfect for summer. we’re off to too many bbqs this weekend and this will be the best side dish to share:)

  26. This looks delicious! Love that the dressing doesn’t have mayonaise or egg.
    I’ll definitely be trying this in the summer!
    It is true that so many restaurants in NYC have a kale salad, and most of them are really good.
    Thanks for sharing.
    xo Quinn

    Quinn Cooper Style

  27. This salad looks incredible. I am a big fan of kale so I must try this!