Kale Caesar Salad Topped with Crispy Breadcrumbs

If you’re looking to revamp traditional Caesar salad, this Kale Caesar Salad will quickly become your new go-to.

Tossed with a traditional Caesar dressing and finished with crispy garlic bread crumbs, this kale caesar makes a hearty main course or side. Unlike croutons, the bread crumbs disperse evenly throughout the salad, lending texture to every bite.

I’ve always had a strong affinity for a great Caesar salad, so I’ve made it my mission to make the best Kale Caesar Salad.

While I’m a purist when it comes to the dressing, I’m all for giving Caesar salad a modern spin. So today we’re doing just that.

Kale Caesar salad with Crispy Bread Crumbs and Parmesan

How to Prep the Kale Leaves

We’re using lacinato kale – also known as dinosaur or Tuscan kale – my preferred variety for salads.

The thinner, yet hearty leaves hold up to and showcase creamy salad dressings, including Caesar, extremely well. Since lacinato kale is relatively mild in taste, it’s also easy to enjoy raw.

How to Prep Dinosaur Kale for Caesar Salad

First, strip the leaves and discard any tough stems. After thoroughly washing and drying the leaves, stack several kale leaves at a time and roll them tightly into a long log. Then slice the kale into thin ribbons, roughly 1/2-inch thick.

Here’s the secret to a stellar kale salad: A thorough massage. By vigorously rubbing the leaves, you essentially help break down the fibers, creating a silkier, tender green that is more enjoyable to eat (and easier to digest).

You’ll be amazed how a quick massage can completely transform raw kale.

Assemble the Kale Caesar Salad:

How to Prepare Kale Caesar salad

Prepare the Bread Crumbs and Kale: Before preparing the dressing, assemble the main salad components (crispy bread crumbs, washed and prepped kale leaves, and any additional toppings. See make-ahead tips below.

Make the Dressing: After combining the egg yolks, anchovy, garlic, Dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce, gradually pour in the oil with one hand, while whisking vigorously with the other. The dressing should become thick and emulsified. Lastly, stir in the lemon juice, grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and freshly cracked black pepper.

Kale Caesar Salad Dressing in Bowl

Toss the Salad: All that’s left to do is to assemble this masterpiece! Toss the kale ribbons with the dressing until evenly coated. Top each serving with a generous sprinkling of crispy garlic bread crumbs and dusting of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, grated with a microplane.

Make-Ahead Tips:

  • If you’re looking to plan ahead, this is your salad. The crispy bread crumbs and the kale leaves (hold off on massaging) can be prepped 1-2 days in advance. Store the kale ribbons in a covered container in the refrigerator.
  • While I recommend making the Caesar dressing just before serving, it can hold up for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, then stir well before using.
  • To add a bit of heft, prep hard-boiled eggs (or other proteins) for topping. See recipe note section. Peel and store in a container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
kale Caesar salad with hard boiled eggs
Kale Caesar Salad Topped with Crispy Breadcrumbs

Kale Caesar Salad

5 stars (3 ratings)
My favorite Kale Caesar Salad, tossed with a homemade Caesar salad dressing, and topped with  crispy garlic bread crumbs. This kale caesar makes a hearty main course salad or side salad. Unlike croutons, the bread crumbs disperse evenly throughout the salad, lending crunch and texture to every bite.
Make Gluten Free: Substitute the bread crumbs with crunchy roasted chickpeas or homemade garlic chips.

Ingredients

Salad:

  • 2 bunches (12-14 ounces) Tuscan (lacinato) kale
  • extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
  • crispy garlic panko breadcrumbs
  • parmigiano-reggiano cheese as desired
  • hard-boiled eggs optional (see notes)

Dressing (Yields 1 Cup):

  • 2-3 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil drained
  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • kosher salt
  • 3 large egg yolks local or pasture-raised
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • cup (80 mL) avocado or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ⅓ to ½ cup finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese plus more for topping
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste

Instructions 

  • Prepare the Kale Leaves: Strip the leaves from the kale stems, discarding the tough stems. Wash and dry the kale leaves thoroughly. Stack several kale leaves and roll lengthwise into a long log. Slice crosswise into thin ribbons (roughly ½-inch thick) and place in a large salad bowl. Repeat with the remaining kale leaves. Drizzle the kale with a touch of extra virgin olive oil. Using both hands, massage the kale leaves until they soften and wilt slightly. Set aside while you prepare the Caesar dressing.
    Sliced Dinosaur Kale
  • Make the Caesar Dressing: Place the drained anchovy fillets and garlic cloves on a cutting board. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Finely chop together, using the side of a knife to mash into a paste.
    Anchovy Garlic Paste
  • Place the egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl. Add the anchovy-garlic paste to the bowl, along with the Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk together. Slowly pour in the oil (in small droplets at first, gradually increasing to a very fine steam), whisking continuously with your other hand, until thick and emulsified. Stir in the lemon juice, finely grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and freshly ground black pepper. Season to taste.
    Kale Caesar Salad Dressing in Bowl
  • Assemble the Salad: Gently toss the kale with just enough dressing to evenly coat the leaves (note: you will have leftovers!). Season to taste, adding more salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed. Top each serving with crispy garlic bread crumbs and a dusting of parmigiano-reggiano cheese (grated finely with a microplane). For a hearty main course, serve alongside sliced hard boiled eggs, if desired.
    How to Prepare Kale Caesar salad

How to Make (Perfect) Hard Boiled Eggs: 

  • Fill a small saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Lower the eggs carefully into the water and immediately reduce heat to a very low simmer. Set a timer for 10 minutes (this will result in a completely firm white, but tender, cooked yolks). Prepare an ice bath and set aside. 
  • After 10 minutes, use a slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to the ice bath. Once the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel and set aside. Hard boiled eggs can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up one week. 

Make-Ahead Tips: 

  • The crispy bread crumbs and the kale leaves (hold off on massaging until just before serving) can be prepped 1-2 days in advance. Store the kale ribbons in a covered container in the refrigerator.
  • While I recommend making the Caesar dressing just before serving, it can hold up for 1-2 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes, then stir well before using.

 

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 516kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 51g, Saturated Fat: 11g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 24g, Monounsaturated Fat: 14g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 305mg, Sodium: 350mg, Potassium: 97mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 626IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 250mg, Iron: 1mg