A vegan caesar salad with a surprising ingredient

With creamy dressing, crisp lettuce, and buttery croutons, it’s no wonder so many people love the classic Caesar salad. We’ve replaced romaine with nutrient-dense kale and added plant protein and fiber by replacing croutons with crispy, spiced chickpeas in our version. The best part is that thanks to kale’s tough texture you can let this salad marinate in the fridge and enjoy over the course of the week!

Keeping it kale

We’re all well aware of kale’s excellent reputation when it comes to nutrient density. It contains dozens of vitamins and minerals, but one important component is an antioxidant called quercetin. Specifically, quercetin is a type of flavonoid in many plants like grapes, berries, citrus, and tomatoes.

Quercetin is potent for fighting inflammation. Inflammation is a process our body uses to protect itself from outside stressors and internal injuries. Some inflammation is necessary (like when you sprain your ankle), but chronic, untreated inflammation can lead to many chronic illnesses. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants like quercetin is one way to help combat too much inflammation in the body. 

Going garbanzo

We love the texture and spice the crispy chickpeas (garbanzo beans) add to this salad, plus they also bring along essential benefits. Adding legumes to your diet has been shown to increase longevity. Chickpeas’ protein and fiber combination can keep you full longer, so you won’t wind up hangry after eating this salad. Chickpeas are also rich in magnesium and potassium, which are two essential nutrients for maintaining heart health. 

Vegan dressing

We’ve made this dressing vegan-friendly by removing dairy, which can cause an adverse reaction in many people. The combination of spicy garlic, bright citrus, and creamy blended cashews mimics the traditional version perfectly. Garlic has long been touted for its medicinal benefits, thanks to its sulfur compounds. Allicin is the most talked-about of these compounds. It is known for boosting immunity, fighting inflammation, and reducing free radical damage in the body. 

Vegan Caesar Salad

Ingredients

Dressing:

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3-4 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon tamari

Pinch of salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Chickpea “Croutons:”

1 can chickpeas

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

generous pinch of salt

Salad:

8 cups curly kale

Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350. Rinse and dry chickpeas. The more thoroughly you dry your chickpeas, the crispier they will turn out.

Step 2: Toss chickpeas with olive oil and salt. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 35-40 minutes, occasionally stirring, until crispy. Toss with remaining spices once out of the oven, and let cool completely.

Step 3: Add all dressing ingredients to a blender. Blend on high until creamy and smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 4: Rinse, de-stem, and thoroughly dry the kale. Roughly chop and add to a large salad bowl. Add a little of the dressing at a time, massaging into the kale until your leaves are adequately dressed. Massaging your kale will allow it to absorb the flavors of the dressing and make the leaves less tough. 

Step 5: When ready to serve, add roasted chickpeas to this vegan caesar salad and toss to combine. If you aren’t vegan, you can feel free to add an additional protein of choice, or add avocado for some amazing skin benefits.

Recipe and photography by Kaitlyn Noble

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