After feasting during the Holidays, it’s time for that inevitable transition into eating lighter meals; soups and salads full of veggies that make us feel energized. My favorite salad in the whole, entire world is the Caesar–creamy and garlicky, topped with crunchy croutons and an extra squeeze of lemon. This recipe has lots of zip–everything you could ever desire in the traditional Caesar salad but much healthier. Trust me, I have gone through my fair share of Caesar salads and have weeded out what I like and dislike. I discovered that a good Caesar salad is nothing without a decent amount of avocado and a few spoonful’s of salty capers. And, that dressing–it just needs to be perfect. A spot-on Caesar dressing is not too thick yet not too thin; it needs the right amount of garlic, and a good squeeze of spicy mustard. Most vegan recipes use vegenaise, yet I prefer a healthier and less processed tahini base. I also wanted to keep the ingredient list short and manageable. It’s just a salad after all; the recipe should be a quick and stress-free meal.
Kale. Kale is my all-time favorite salad green. I love the texture, yet only when it is properly marinated or cooked. The bitterness and chew of raw kale can interfere with the enjoyment of a salad. Therefore, I discovered an easy marinade by merely adding lemon and salt and massaging the leaves until they soften. This was seriously a life changer; when I crave a kale salad of any sort, I just make my own at home, avoiding having to spend that vegan restaurant price.
Another switcheroo is the addition of crispy chickpeas. All the best Caesar salads have a nice crunch, which is usually provided by adding toasted bread croutons. However, recently I have been going crispy chickpea crazy! I bake chickpeas on a regular basis, adding lots of spice. They are a quick and easy snack that is not only guilt-free, but also provides a nice helping of protein. So why not add crispy chickpeas to my perfect Caesar salad? These guys really make the salad sing; they are the icing on the cake; the perfect finishing touch. Ok guys, now I’m drooling. So join me in this extremely delicious and healthy after-the-holiday yumfest. If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen whipping one up.
KALE CAESAR SALAD WITH CRISPY CHICKPEAS
Crispy Chickpea Ingredients:
- 1 14 oz. can chickpeas–drained and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup tamari
- 1/4 cup tahini
- Juice from 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 bunch (about three cups) kale–washed, stems removed and torn
- Juice from one lemon
- 1/4 cup capers
- 1 avocado–sliced
- Start by making the chickpeas. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix chickpeas with oil and seasonings until evenly coated. Place chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until crisp.
- Dressing: Blend all of the dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth. Season to taste. Add more water for a thinner consistency, if desired.
- Prep Kale: Mix kale in a large salad bowl with the juice from one lemon. Add a few pinches of salt and massage until well coated and slightly wilted.
- Assemble Salad: Toss kale with salad dressing and capers. Top with chickpeas and avocado slices. Enjoy!