This kale caesar salad recipe fuses the heartiness of kale salad and the bright, briney lemon-parmesan flavor of caesar salad – with none of the fuss! It’s easy and healthy, too, at just 170 calories per serving!
I wasn’t going to join the cult of kale; I wasn’t. But then again, of course.
It was the same thing with chambray shirts. I wasn’t I wasn’t I wasn’t. Until I was.
In reality, though, I’ve liked kale in all of its ways for a few years now — as chips, massaged, as a garnish on deli platters — but I haven’t gone wild over it in the same way that I did with, say, brussels sprouts.
Most of the recipes for kale anything are fussy, and on a very basic level — simply a way to make a superfood that tastes pretty blah on its own, digestible.
This kale, though? You don’t need to massage it. Or roast it. Or tell it it’s beautiful and worthwhile until that becomes true.
But I didn’t create this recipe entirely by myself; Steve did. So, to give him some credit, let’s talk about him.
To find the roots of this recipe we’d have to go back to the summer of 2011, when we met. We were having our very first phone conversation — he, a literary agent, and I, not a literary agent but still very much loved by my mother. It was morning; I was wearing pajamas, living in Seattle. There was this book idea.
Our talking was easy, completely sensical. We laughed, talked about growing up chubby, our mutual food likes, our dislikes. And that was that. There was no one else I needed to consider.
Since then, he’s become one of my close friends. He’s met my clan and I’ve met his. We text often and brunch when we can find places with the right kind of bloody marys — that is to say, spicy but not too heavy on the horseradish. We play Dominos together, if that clues you in to how spirited we are. I feel comfortable enough with Steve to make fun of him in front of his significant other.
Steve’s been telling me about this kale salad for a while now. “It’s so easy, Andie. I make it all the time,” he’d say. And finally, at a recent cookout, he brought it to the table.
It was simple and perfect. Not in the slightest what I would expect from such a short, sweet ingredient list. It was clean and bright and yet still satisfying. Knowing how healthy it was seemed only a perk.
To make it yourself, all you’ll need is a big bowl of roughly chopped or torn kale, and this quick lemony Caesar-like dressing. The key to maximizing the flavor of the vinaigrette — what gives it that umami note — is a small squeeze of anchovy paste. If you’re seafood averse, don’t worry; it doesn’t come through as a fishy flavor, just rich and slightly salty.
Pour it over the kale, toss well, and let it sit as long as you can so that the acidity breaks down those tough green leaves. The flavors will intensify and the kale will wilt the longer it’s able to stand — at least 30 minutes, but a stay overnight in the fridge works wonders.
Steve adds a generous helping of Parmesan cheese — enough to really coat the leaves, because none of us wants to have that horrible spaghetti-eating experience where you run out of Parmesan after the top layer of bites.
Enjoy it as a side for just about anything.
Easy No-Massage Kale Caesar Salad
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon or ~3 tablespoons
- 6 cups chopped or torn kale leaves
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- To a small bowl, add the garlic and anchovy paste. Add the lemon juice and whisk to combine. Add the olive oil in a steady stream, while whisking constantly, to incorporate.
- To a large mixing bowl, add the kale. Pour the dressing over the kale and toss well to coat the leaves. Add the Parmesan cheese and toss again. Let the salad stand for at least 30 minutes to allow the kale to soften, or better yet — up to 24 hours (covered in the fridge), before serving.