Vegan Kale Caesar Salad with Fresh Croutons

Overhead shot of two white plates with vegan kale caesar salad and croutons.

At first, my go-to Kale Caesar was a salad for everyone but vegans. 

I tossed chopped kale with a creamy Caesar dressing, laden with Parmesan cheese and spiked with Worcestershire sauce (which contains anchovies). Then, I used a vegetable peeler to make wide strips of even more Parmesan to toss in at the end. 

Most days, it was served with chicken. 

Overhead shot of vegan caesar salad dressing in a food processor.

But the Kale Caesar Salad has become so ubiquitous that I wanted to make one that was different and didn’t rely on the clout of Parmesan cheese or other animal products.

Plus, my sister is a vegetarian and I accidentally told her that most Caesar salads were not, in fact, vegetarian. That either meant the end of the Caesar salad at family dinners or the end of anchovies at family dinners. 

Or the end of my sister at family dinners. 

Just kidding. 

Let’s make Vegan Kale Caesar Salad

The important thing to remember when eliminating cheese, meat, etc. from a recipe is that you should make up for the flavor and richness that these ingredients typically provide. 

That’s where large hunks of warm bread, toasted and smothered in olive oil, make their stunning appearance. 

I’m calling them “fresh croutons” because they are not dried, or baked, or dumped from a canister. 

Simply toast 4 thick slices of whole grain, hearty bread (or any bread you like, sourdough would be excellent), coat them in olive oil, and douse them with an herb-flecked seasoning blend such as Kirkland Signature Organic No-Salt Seasoning or Mrs Dash. Then, cut them into bite-sized cubes. 

Up-close and side view of a vegan kale caesar salad with fresh croutons.

Thick, fresh croutons turn crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They provide the same sensation as biting into a hearty piece of warm bread, dunked in olive oil. 

It’s important to toss the bread into the salad while it’s still warm. Like hot fudge spooned over cold ice cream, the contrast in temperature is one of the greatest pleasures of this dish. 

If you’re bringing this to a party, just toast the bread separately and keep it warm in tin foil. 

Overhead shot of a vegan kale caesar salad on a silver spoon.

The kale can be tossed in the dressing several hours in advance; it only gets better as it sits. Be sure to leave extra dressing on the side to refresh the salad before serving. 

This is the kind of meal that can turn anyone (my father) into a kale convert, so I do hope you share it with family and friends. 

Especially since now, it’s a salad for truly everyone- even the vegans.

Vegan Kale Caesar Salad with Fresh Croutons

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Serves: 4-6
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 5 minutes

A vegan kale caesar salad with the same richness as the original- thanks to fresh, warm croutons soaked in olive oil and heavily seasoned. Vegans, rejoice.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
  • 1 lemon, peeled and quartered
  • 2 small cloves garlic, peeled and crushed (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 head kale, stems removed and torn into bite sized pieces (about 10-15 cups)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 4 thick slices from a hearty whole wheat loaf
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • No-salt seasoning (I use Kirkland Signature Organic No-Salt Seasoning)

Instructions

1

Add cashews, lemon, garlic, salt, pepper, soy sauce, vinegar and ½ cup water in a blender or food processor. Blend for about 2 minutes until ridiculously smooth and creamy, scraping down the sides every 30 seconds. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

2

Place the kale in an extra large bowl, give yourself some room to toss it in the sauce. Pour in ¾ of the sauce and massage it into the kale thoroughly with your hands. Pour in the rest and toss.

3

Toss in the nutritional yeast- this gives it a cheesy flavor without the usual Parmesan you’d find in a Caesar.

4

Toast your bread, drizzle with olive oil and season with No Salt Seasoning on both sides. Cut into 1-inch cubes and toss with the salad, while the bread is still warm.

5

Serve right away.

Nutrition

  • 402 Calories

Notes

I would suggest doubling the recipe for the Caesar dressing. Heads of kale vary widely in their yield, and it's always better to have too much dressing than not enough! Extra dressing can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 3 months.

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