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

This easy plant-based kale Caesar salad is about to revolutionize your dinner table.

kale caesar salad

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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 it even boasts protein, too. Unfortunately, raw kale is a bit…earthy. Here is a more delicious way to enjoy this leafy green: in a massaged kale Caesar salad. It’s delicious; it’s beautiful. And it’s vegan to boot!

A Vegan Kale Salad to Subvert Tradition

The recipe for 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.”

kale caesar salad
A vegan kale caesar salad to knock your socks off.

Sounds delicious, right?

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

made in china platter
Made In’s 13″ Serving Platter

It’s also beautiful, which is why you need the perfect dish to show it off! We’re big fans of this lovely platter from Made In. It’s hand-crafted in England from high-alumina vitrified china for a strong finish so durable the company guarantees it chip-free for a year. The dark green of the kale stands out so wonderfully against the pristine white finish.

Healthy Vegan Kale Caesar Salad Swaps

While traditional Caesars start with romaine, this vegan Caesar salad uses instead green leafy kale, which provides the perfect bite once massaged with the one-of-a-kind 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 recipe calls for curly green leaf kale, but you can easily swap in 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 substitutes: Capers lend the brininess usually attributed to anchovies, and raw cashews, once soaked, provide the rich creaminess of the traditional dressing without the need for 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 specifically, the more the merrier. Raw garlic contains vitamins and minerals along with potent compounds thought to be antiviral and antiseptic. 

You’ll need a great blender to make this dressing to grind up and emulsify those cashews. One of our favorites is the Vitamix. Why? It’s powerful and can easily emulsify salad dressings, hummus, soups, dips and more (it’s the secret tool restaurants use to get that perfect emulsification). The Ascent™ Series has variable speed control, pulse, a timer and built in wireless connectivity. If you want more than one blender container size to whip up delicious dishes in your kitchen the Ascent™ Series allows you to do it. 

The Vitamix Ascent™ Series blender is perfect for salad dressings, hummus, soups dips and more. 

This vegan kale Caesar salad is a delicious main dish or side 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
This vegan Caesar salad is perfect to feed a crowd.
4 hr 15 min. Prep
0 Cook
4 hr 15 min. Total
4 Servings

Ingredients

Salad Dressing

Kale Caesar Salad

Preparation

  1. Place the 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 the soaked cashews, Dijon mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, capers, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, and three tablespoons of water. Turn on the blender, and gradually increase the speed until blending on highest speed. Blend on high until the dressing is smooth and creamy, and the cashews and capers are fully incorporated. Add more water to thin consistency if necessary.
  3. Taste, adding garlic as desired for a more pungent dressing.
  4. Place the chopped kale in a large bowl, and pour the salad dressing over top. Using your hands, massage the dressing into the kale for 30 seconds, or until the kale begins to feel wilted and silky.
  5. Top the salad with pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, nutritional yeast, and caramelized onions, if desired.
  6. This salad will keep up to three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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Kate Gavlick is a nutritionist with a masters degree in nutrition. Hailing from Portland Oregon, and has a passion... More about Kate Gavlick

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