Fast and healthy kale caesar salad recipe! Tender greens tossed in light lemon-anchovy dressing and topped with chicken and croutons.
Tell me if I’m wrong, but I think you can find a Caesar salad at just about any restaurant. One thing I learned in culinary school was how to run recipe costs and markups. Salads get a lot of love because they’re light, fresh and feed the need of health-conscious customers.
To be honest, salad is one of those workhorse dishes that doesn’t cost much to make and brings in high profits. With that in mind, I wanted to create a homemade kale caesar salad recipe that’s super satisfying and packed with even more nutrients.
You’ve probably seen the different types of Caesar salad dressings, such as the thick and creamy version, or the light and savory style. To keep the flavor of this salad authentic, I went for the anchovy based dressing.
Anchovy paste is the way to go for a quick and easy ingredient. It’s a combination of anchovies, oil, and salt, pureed and ready to use. It’s got lots of great savory notes, very little fishy odor and adds a depth to the dressing that you just can’t get without it.
This dressing is just thick enough to coat lightly each leafy green. No sloppy, or goopy stuff for this power salad. A quick whisk of Dijon mustard, olive oil, anchovy, and freshly squeezed lemon juice makes for a zingy kick. You can add less lemon juice if you find that it’s too zippy, but I like how it makes for a refreshing taste.
Adding a protein like chicken is an excellent way to make this salad into more of an entree than an appetizer. I simply sauteed lean chicken breast in olive oil, and then thinly sliced the pieces. If you can grill the chicken, that would add even more flavor.
Have you ever made homemade croutons? It’s so easy! Don’t let bread go to waste. I had some nice rustic whole grain bread that I wanted to use to make these croutons. I sliced the loaf very thin, tore the pieces apart (the kiddos love helping with this!), tossed in a little olive oil with salt and pepper, then baked until crispy.
I start this first thing so they are ready right when the salad is to be dressed. It takes less than 20 minutes and adds an irresistible crunchy texture to the salad. Any leftover lasts for weeks and can be broken up to be used for breadcrumbs. I like to add those breadcrumbs to make meatballs, oh yea!
So why kale instead of romaine lettuce? As much as I think romaine is the right choice for tender greens in this salad, kale has some impressive health benefits.
The dark green color means it’s packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants. It’s also high in vitamin A, C, K, and minerals iron and calcium. Filled with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, eat bite make for an even healthier meal.
What are the different varieties of kale and how do you use them?
In grocery stores, you can typically find 4 kinds of kale: curly, red, dinosaur or baby kale. Curly and red are best for cooked dishes like soups and hold sauces well. Dinosaur (aka Tuscan or Lacinato) is less bitter tasting and I like them in salads or sauteed for a short time. Baby kale has a milder flavor, very tender leaves, and works great for salad or fruit smoothies.
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Kale Caesar Salad with Chicken
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- kosher salt, for seasoning
- black pepper, for seasoning
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 8 cups kale leaves, thinly sliced, ribs and stems removed
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
- zest of 2 lemons
- 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, finely grated
- Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large pan or skillet.
- Pound chicken to an even thickness, about ½-inch thick. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Place in the skillet and cook for 5 to 8 minutes on each side, or until chicken are cooked through (165°F internal temperature).
- Allow the pieces to rest on a cutting board, then slice into thin strips.
- In a large bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons lemon juice, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- While whisking, slowly drizzle in olive oil. Add more lemon juice as desired.
- Place the kale in a large mixing bowl and toss with dressing.
- Add cheese, chicken, and croutons. Toss and serve.
- Tuscan, Lacinato, or Dinosaur kale recommended.
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