The Very Best Vegan Kale Caesar Salad with Pumpkin Seeds and Caramelized Onions

kale caesar salad

Kale, as we all know, is a major superfood. It’s filled with antioxidants, essential vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, and vitamin K, and boasts protein, too. Unfortunately, raw kale is a bit…earthy. Here is a more delicious (and vegan!) way to enjoy this leafy green: in a massaged kale Caesar salad.

A Vegan Take on the Traditional

Traditional Caesar salad is attributed to Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant and cook who owned restaurants in Mexico and the United States, and is thought to have invented the dish.

The first mention of this salad came from reporter Dorothy Kilgallen who wrote, “The big food rage in Hollywood—the Caesar salad—will be introduced to New Yorkers by Gilmore's Steak House. It's an intricate concoction that takes ages to prepare and contains (zowie!) lots of garlic, raw or slightly coddled eggs, croutons, romaine, anchovies, parmesan cheese, olive oil, vinegar and plenty of black pepper.”

This kale Caesar salad is a bit of a departure from the original, but still contains the unique flavor (read: garlic) and creaminess associated with the namesake salad.

kale caesar salad

Healthy Vegan Kale Caesar Salad Swaps

Instead of romaine lettuce, this Caesar salad uses green leafy kale which provides the perfect crunch and bite when massaged with unique vegan Caesar dressing.

More than a trendy vegetable, kale is a delicious leafy green to incorporate into your diet. Kale boasts dietary fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, and specific antioxidants that support eye, skin, bone, and blood health. This salad uses curly green leaf kale, but can be swapped with red kale, lacinato kale, or even purple kale if available.

As opposed to using egg yolk, anchovies, and cheese, this Caesar dressing relies on easy vegan substitutions like capers for anchovies and raw cashews for cheese that provide flavor and depth without the use of animal products. Nutritional yeast, another sneaky swap, gives this kale Caesar salad a cheesy flavor without the need for Parmesan cheese.

Other ingredients like lemon juice, ample fresh cloves of garlic, and Dijon mustard add brightness and flavor along with nutritious benefits. When it comes to garlic, the more the merrier. Raw garlic contains vitamins and minerals along with potent compounds thought to be antiviral and antiseptic.

This vegan kale Caesar salad is a delicious main dish or side dish to be shared with friends and family. I like to top mine with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, caramelized onions, and ample amounts of nutritional yeast to make this dish filling, uniquely delicious, and plant-powered. You can even add cooked beans like chickpeas or white beans to provide even more filling fiber and protein.

Breaking free of tradition is a very good thing.

kale caesar salad
  • Duration
  • Prep Time


  • ½ cup raw cashews soaked at least 4 hours
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 3-6 Tbsp water to thin
  • 1 head curly green kale stems removed and roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds to garnish
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds to garnish
  • ½ onion caramelized, to garnish
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast to garnish


  1. Place cashews in a glass bowl and cover with water. Soak at least four hours or overnight. Drain cashews when ready to use.
  2. In a high-speed blender combine soaked cashews, Dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, capers, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, and three tablespoons of water. Turn on blender and gradually increase speed until blending on highest speed. Blend on high until dressing is smooth and creamy and cashews and capers have dissolved. Add more water to thin consistency if necessary.
  3. Taste mixture and add in another garlic clove or two if you want a more pungent dressing.
  4. Place chopped kale in a large bowl and pour salad dressing over top. Using your hands massage dressing into kale for 30 seconds, or until kale leafs begin to feel wilted and silky.
  5. Top caesar salad with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, and caramelized onions, if desired.
  6. Kale salad will keep up to three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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