Kale Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons

This easy recipe for Kale Caesar Salad is made with tender massaged kale and a traditional homemade Caesar dressing with anchovies.

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We're big fans of Caesar salad in this house. And by we, I really mean Chaser. I love a good Caesar and all, but he's the real aficionado. Anytime we go out to eat, if there's a Caesar salad on the menu, it will always find it's way onto our table. The option of not ordering it simply doesn't exist, which can be frustrating when there's lots of other intriguing items on the menu. A Caesar salad seems so mundane. So average. And more often than not, a major let down.

But when really made right, perfectly balanced with anchovy, garlic, mustard and lemon, with plenty of cheese and crunchy, homemade croutons, a good Caesar salad can be hard to beat. Over the years it's become a bit of a game for us to pick apart each salad we order and then size them up against all the other's we've had. So far, we think Cafe 2825 in Atlantic City makes the best. That is, for a restaurant.

There was always a Caesar salad on the table at our big Italian family gatherings. The rule in our family has always been, "the more garlic the better," and these salads were certainly no exception. Even if you only had one bite, you were guaranteed to be breathing fire for the remainder of the night, if not the next few days. I dabbled in making my own Caesars from time to time in my youth. In fact, I most vividly remember serving one at a dinner party my friend Anyah and I hosted when we were 12. But it wasn't until I met Chaser that I really upped my Caesar salad game.

When Chaser was a kid, his dad, Dave, worked as a server at a fine dining restaurant that specialized in making table side Caesar salads. Even though Dave never liked to eat it himself, he would always make them at home and eventually taught Chaser how to properly construct a Caesar salad himself. I'll never forget the first time Chaser offered to make me dinner. I walked in the kitchen to find him on the phone with his dad, going over all the steps of the process to make sure he had it just right. I thought it was adorable, the salad was delicious, and I was smitten for the cute boy who actually had the balls to cook me dinner. Since then, both Chaser and Dave have passed their knowledge down to me, but being the persnickety cook I am, I had to make a few tweaks. Kale Caesar Salad with Cornbread CroutonsWhite bol of kale salad topped with cheese and croutons. Kale Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons
Far and away, the most controversial thing I do is substitute a few tablespoons of mayo for the raw egg yolk. My poor grandfather is literally rolling in his grave. Anthony Genovese, aka Pop-Pop, was a man who shuddered, gagged and dramatically cringed at the mere thought of mayonnaise, especially in anything Italian. Most of his children followed suit, and even I grew up fairly mayonnaise-averse. To be honest, the idea of spreading a layer of the pale, viscous substance onto a sandwich still gives me the heebie jeebies. But I'm down to use mayo in certain applications if it makes sense, like in crab cakes, dips and in this case, Caesar dressing.

Chaser, a purist, disagrees. He prefers the raw egg yolk, but for me, I find it's just a bit too eggy. I only use a tiny bit of mayonnaise to help emulsify the dressing, so it has a looser, more runny texture, which I find helps it coat the leaves better. All mayonnaise is is eggs, oil and vinegar, anyway, so what's the fuss?

Aside from that, we agree on everything else. Plenty of garlic. Not too much mustard and definitely not too much Worcestershire. Anchovies are a must. Freshly cracked black pepper. Good parmesan cheese. And lots, and lots of lemon. As for the croutons, homemade only, please. Croutons are a great way to use up leftover bread, and they couldn't be easier to make. Plus, they'll keep in the cupboard for up to a few weeks, so they're great for making ahead. I had some leftover cornbread, so that's what I used for this recipe. Regular bread can be substituted in a pinch, but I really loved the cornbread's unique texture and slight sweetness.

We became privy to the kale Caesar salad a few years ago, and it's now really the only kind of Caesar we make at home. That's mostly because we have a never ending supply of kale coming out of the garden (even in January), but also because it's a slightly healthier version of a not-all-that-healthy-to-begin-with salad. The kale really stands up well to the bold, creamy dressing, and while it does lack that juicy crunch that romaine has, neither of us really miss it.

Kale Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons

One year ago: Maple Berry Breakfast Clafoutis

This easy recipe for Kale Caesar Salad is made with tender massaged kale and a traditional homemade Caesar dressing with anchovies.
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Kale Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons You'll Love

This easy recipe for Kale Caesar Salad is made with tender massaged kale and a traditional homemade Caesar dressing with anchovies.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 3 servings
Calories: 1073kcal

Ingredients

For the Croutons

  • 3 cups torn or cubed day-old cornbread homemade or store bought
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper

For the Dressing

  • 2 anchovies packed in oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Salad

  • 1 large bunch kale any variety, ribs removed and torn into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese plus more for garnish

Instructions

Make the Croutons

  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toss the cornbread with olive oil, salt and pepper, then spread out evenly on the baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, checking on them occasionally, or until they're golden brown and crisp. Allow to cool to room temperature. Store in an air tight container for up to one week.

Make the Dressing

  1. Place the anchovies and garlic in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then use the back of a spoon to grind the mixture into a paste. Add the mustard, the lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and whisk to combine. Add the mayonnaise and vegetable oil and whisk until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed, adding more salt, pepper and lemon juice to suit your preference.

Make the Salad

  1. Place the kale in a large salad bowl and drizzle with oil, salt and pepper. Use clean hands to vigorously massage the leaves until they wilt and soften, about 2 minutes. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss until all the leaves are coated. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and continue tossing until evenly distributed. Add a few handful of croutons and toss some more. Spoon into serving bowls, top with more cheese and croutons if desired. Serve immediately.

Notes

  • Use paper towels, a kitchen towel or salad spinner to dry the kale as much as you can before massaging it. 
  • You’ll know you’re done massaging the kale when it looks moist and the volume of kale has reduced to about ⅔ the amount you started with.
  • You likely won’t miss the romaine lettuce, but feel free to add some romaine leaves if you want.  

Nutrition

Calories: 1073kcal | Carbohydrates: 132g | Protein: 23g | Fat: 51g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 15g | Monounsaturated Fat: 19g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 152mg | Sodium: 1807mg | Potassium: 440mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 39g | Vitamin A: 2432IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 577mg | Iron: 5mg

This easy recipe for Kale Caesar Salad is made with tender massaged kale and a traditional homemade Caesar dressing with anchovies. #easy #kale #massaged #caesar #salad #cornbread #croutons #anchovies #cheese #homemade  | ColeyCooks.com Top view of kale caesar salad covered with cheese and croutons.

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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I've always been a little nervous about making my own caesar dressing but this was so easy! I love it with the massaged kale, too - really makes a basic/common salad feel special and elegant.

  2. 5 stars
    I have never tried a yoghurt desnrisg on pasta before. Nice idea. Thank you for entering your salad into No Croutons Required. the line up and voting poll will be posted on the 21st on .Good Luck!

  3. 5 stars
    Our neighborhood restaurant in Tampa, 220 East, always had a good Caesar. They added a kale Caesar recently. We ordered both, and everyone at our table thought it was better than the romain original. Caesar dressing is so addictive, and totally worth the dragon breath. I plan to follow your recipe to a T, which is very hard for me.

    1. We have dragon breath 80% of the time here in this house. At least when you both have it, it cancels out a bit. The dressing is just how we like it - pretty heavy on the lemon, but of course feel free to customize it to your own taste (but I don't have to tell you that).

    2. 5 stars
      u know something Priya, wneeevhr I make any pasta dish it taste so bad :(. but when I see or eat made by others it taste heavenly. like urs looking very tempting. Now I just can wish that I cud get this plate.