6 July 2019

Kale Caesar Salad

A twist on the classic Caesar; a kale Caesar salad with chickpea croutons, tempeh bacon and a deliciously creamy hemp seed dressing. It's full of the delicious flavours and textures you know and love, but with a healthier twist! 

I roasted the kale with some lemon and olive oil, letting it crisp up just a little then tossed it in this creamy Caesar dressing with a few key ingredients for that authentic umami and parm flavour hit you'd expect, with just the right amount of tang too. The chickpeas are roasted with a little garlic seasoning for that crispy garlic crouton flavour and the tempeh is a little smoky and sweet and slightly crisp from the char of the oven. 

I used to love Caesar salads, but even if I see a vegan option on the menu now, I tend to opt out with the thought that they won't be very filling or nourishing. My version here is thoughtfully designed to both nourish your soul and your body, providing you with a good hit of nutrition that will keep you fuller for longer too. I've always been a dark salad leaf kinda person, this probably comes from my mum, who's not a big fan of things like iceberg and always opts for baby spinach, watercress or something similar instead. In this salad I've roasted up some kale and also mixed in some baby spinach; the greens deliver a hefty amount of vitamins A and C and K as well as plenty of antioxidants, folate and a fair amount of iron and calcium too. The roasted chickpeas deliver a generous amount of protein and fibre, iron, magnesium and calcium, the latter of which, along with vitamin K are essential for the maintenance of healthy bones. Provided you get some sunshine in the summer months (and perhaps take a supplement in the winter), you should get plenty of vitamin D, also essential for healthy bones - so why not enjoy this salad outside for maximum benefits?

The dressing contains two key ingredients for maximum nutrition; hemp seeds and nutritional yeast. Hemp seeds are a complete protein (containing all 9 essential amino acids) as well as essential fatty acids, short chain omega 3s; ALA. As previously mentioned here, our bodies aren't nearly perfect at converting these short-chain omegas to longer chain EPA or DHA (needed for a healthy brain) and this process can be interfered further by a higher presence of essential fats omega 6s, which are abundant in our diets. In light of this imperfect conversion, it's super important that we eat foods containing ALA, to get our recommended daily dose of 2g, which are essential for growth and development in children and also help to regulate our cholesterol levels. The nutritional yeast (nooch) not only helps to deliver a wonderful parmesan flavour (along with the white miso for some extra cheesiness!), it contains that all-important nutrient you hear so much about as a vegan; B12. Vitamin B12 can be found in fortified foods in a vegan diet (or in supplement form); it helps to keep our nerve and blood cells healthy as well as having a key role in DNA formation, so don't scrimp on the nooch!

 The last, but by no means, the least important component of this salad is the tempeh bacon. Tempeh is a fermented soya product made from the whole beans, it's a rich, complete protein that delivers an abundance of nutrition including probiotic bacteria. Probiotics are good bacteria found in fermented foods such as vegan yogurts, kimchi, miso etc - they're great for our digestive health, boosting the immune system and more recently our gut flora (bacteria) has even been linked to psychological health. So, as you can see this salad is super nutritious, insanely delicious and there's just no reason not to tuck in! 

Kale Caesar Salad | Serves: 4 | Time: 30 mins

You'll need

  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • 2x large baking trays and greaseproof paper
  • Chopping board
  • 2x large mixing bowls
  • Blender


Chickpea Croutons:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Tempeh Bacon:

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1.5 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp molasses or date syrup
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 block tempeh (200g)

  • 300g kale
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
  • 150g baby spinach
Caesar Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts (shelled hemp seeds)
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast (B12 variety)
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp smoked garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup capers
  • 1/2 tsp white miso
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup water


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line two large baking trays with grease-proof paper (I use re-usable grease-proof). 
  2. Drain the chickpeas, and toss with the onion and garlic powder, parsley and salt and spread out over half the baking tray. Roast for 10 mins.
  3. Mix together the bacon marinade from the soy sauce to the turmeric. Then dice up the tempeh and toss in the marinade. Once the chickpeas have roasted for 10 minutes, transfer the tempeh to a flat layer on the other half of the baking tray and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the tempeh is slightly crisp and the chickpeas are mostly dried. 
  4. In a mixing bowl add the kale, lemon juice and olive oil and toss well. Then spread out on a baking tray and roast for 5-10 minutes, until slightly crisp but not burned. Allow to cool slightly then transfer back to the mixing bowl along with the spinach. 
  5. Add all the ingredients for the Caesar dressing to the blender and blitz until smooth and creamy. Pour the dressing over the greens and toss to coat evenly. 
  6. Arrange the salads by beginning with the dressed greens, then top with the chickpeas and tempeh and enjoy! 
Cassidy xx