Did you know that the Caesar salad is believed to have its origins in a chef’s rush to create a salad out of whatever he had on hand in his kitchen? And it’s named after that chef — Caesar Cardini — not the Roman dictator?
But even if you thought it had aristocratic origins, the main point of the Caesar salad is the tangy flavors of lemon, yogurt, garlic and cheese. And depending on the occasion and where you’re eating this salad, it could be upscale gourmet or humble comfort food. This Kale Caesar Salad is healthy and packed with nutrients no matter how you like to serve it.
Baby kale replaces romaine in this version, so you’re getting the now-famous superfood’s supply of vitamins A, C and K and all those antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. The health benefits of kale are truly off the charts, and you’ll love the tenderness of baby kale.
Goat milk yogurt and Pecorino Romano, which is made from sheep milk, create the base of the creamy, tangy dressing. Look for them both at your local natural foods store or farmers’ market. Goat milk and sheep milk are both better for digestion than cow milk because they’re packed with medium-chain triglycerides (MCT oil), which break down for quick energy and cause little to no inflammation. That means you can probably enjoy this Kale Caesar Salad even if you’re lactose intolerant!
So as Chef Cardini probably would have said, “Mangia! Mangia!”
Start by gathering all your ingredients and grabbing a bowl to mix up the dressing. Whisk or blend together the yogurt, Pecorino Romano, anchovy paste or fillets, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon zest, and salt and pepper to taste. At this point, your kitchen is starting to smell like there’s an Italian chef in the house.
Look at that creamy goodness. And you’re the lucky one, because you get to taste it again as you add the lemon juice to your liking. When the dressing has the right amount of tang for you, grab a larger mixing bowl and get ready to get your hands dirty. You’ll only use half of the dressing for this dish, so store the rest in a sealed jar in the refrigerator. It will keep for up to three days.
Throw the baby kale and half of the dressing in the larger bowl and massage the dressing into the kale until the leaves turn a darker shade of green. This kale doesn’t know how good it has it. This is really the best way to get the dressing into the kale and make sure every bite of salad is delicious.
Slice up some Cerignola olives and Roma tomatoes. Your best bet for finding Cerignola olives is your local gourmet or natural foods store. They have a mild, sweet flavor that will go great with the tanginess of the salad dressing.
And now for the magic hour: When you’re ready to serve, transfer the Kale Caesar Salad to plates or a serving dish and top with the olives, tomatoes and some sliced almonds. Crack some fresh pepper over the top and shave some Pecorino Romano on top, too. You can even save that last step for table side if you want to really impress your guests. Chef Caesar Cardini would be proud.