A large wooden bowl with kale caesar salad and crunchy chickpeas tossed in a homemade caesar dressing.

A week rarely goes by in our house without Caesar salad on the menu! A great Caesar salad is a wonderful side dish to many meals, and it’s a huge crowd-pleaser—many picky eaters who won’t otherwise touch a salad happily enjoy a good Caesar salad!

Our version of Caesar salad is boosted with earthy, nutrient-dense, chewy raw kale. We swap out the classic crunchy croutons for our homemade chickpea croutons—which add a great crunch and help round out the salad and make it more hearty. We recommend using our homemade Caesar salad dressing (it’s so easy!), but you can also use your favorite bottled Caesar dressing for this recipe. Let’s get cooking!

Kale Caesar salad ingredients

A classic Caesar salad is simply romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, crunchy croutons, and Caesar dressing. And while we love a classic Caesar salad, we wanted something more filling and hearty!

Enter our superfood kale Caesar salad! We add kale leaves to the lettuce and replace the standard croutons with filling chickpea croutons. And when we really want to go all-in on the superfoods, we also like to make a hemp seed Parmesan replacement.

Lacinato kale

We use lacinato kale, which you may also see called dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale. Lacinato kale leaves are long, thin, and bumpy, while curly kale leaves have frilly edges. We love and use both regularly, but for eating raw, we prefer dinosaur kale. It has just a touch more flavor, and the leaves are thinner and more tender—making it the better choice for salads.

A large wooden bowl with kale caesar salad and crunchy chickpeas tossed in a homemade caesar dressing.

How do you make this kale Caesar salad recipe?

There are a few elements to prep for this kale Caesar salad, and they all come together to make a delicious salad full of texture and flavor:

  1. Make the chickpea croutons. Pat the chickpeas dry, and toss them with oil, salt, and garlic powder. Bake in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 400°F oven until browned. Set aside—they will get crunchier as they cool.
  2. Make the Caesar dressing (you can also use your favorite bottled Caesar dressing).
  3. Grate the Parmesan cheese or make hemp “Parmesan.” To make the hemp Parmesan replacement, pulse hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, raw cashews, salt, and garlic powder in a food processor until it is the texture of grated Parmesan.
  4. Assemble! Toss the veggies together with some of the dressing. Top with the chickpea croutons and either grated Parmesan cheese or the hemp Parmesan replacement.

Can this salad be made ahead?

Parts of it can! You don’t want to dress the greens until right before serving, or they will get soggy and limp. But you can:

  • Make the Caesar dressing up to one week in advance. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
  • Make the chickpea croutons ahead of time. Just keep them in an airtight container on the counter until you’re ready to use them.
  • Make the hemp parmesan ahead of time. Stash this in the fridge until you are ready to use (it’s also great anywhere you would use parmesan). 

Want more great salads?

Close view kale caesar salad with crunchy chickpea croutons and hemp seed parmesan.

Kale Caesar Salad

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes

The old-school Caesar salad gets a superfood spin, thanks to the addition of kale and chickpea croutons.


For the Crunchy Chickpea Croutons:

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the Hemp Seed Parmesan:

  • 2 tablespoons hulled hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the Salad:

  • 1 bunch lacinato kale, torn into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 1 heart romaine, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 2 cups)
  • Homemade Caesar dressing


  1. To make the crunchy chickpeas: Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Dry the chickpeas on a clean tea towel, and then transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with the avocado oil and roll around to coat. Sprinkle on sea salt and garlic powder. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 minutes, stir, then bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the chickpeas begin to brown. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Chickpeas will firm up as they cool.
  2. To make the hemp seed parmesan: Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until chopped into pieces small enough to resemble grated parmesan. Set aside.
  3. To assemble the salad: Toss the kale and romaine together with the desired amount of dressing. Top with the chickpea croutons and hemp seed parmesan.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 301Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 991mgCarbohydrates: 36gFiber: 10gSugar: 6gProtein: 15g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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