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After eating this kale Caesar salad with tempeh and chickpea croutons, your body will thank you. This meal is so packed with nutrients and flavor, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better!
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Did anyone else eat as much Caesar salad as us growing up? It was such a classic side dish for so many of our meals. Plus, it was a sneaky way to get salad in because we smothered it in a creamy sauce and added extra croutons.
Originally created in Tijuana, Mexico (you heard that right) and served at Caesar’s Restaurante-Bar since 1927, the iconic salad you know and love was created by a man named Cesare (‘Caesar’) Cardini. It’s still served there to this day!
We always go through phases when it comes to salads. We’ll either eat them five times a day, or not at all. There’s something about filling up on a big salad that makes you feel light and healthy though. Not to demonize carbs, but we always find ourselves feeling better after eating salad, especially kale.
This recipe is a twist on the version we know you’ve had thanks to Mr. Cardini. We are huge kale advocates, and we actually prefer it over other leafy greens. It’s perfect to mix with dressing because the leaves don’t get soggy! They maintain a nice texture throughout the whole meal (even the next day).
This salad is especially meaningful to us because we’ve been growing a vegetable garden this year, including a whole whack of kale. We think it’s much more satisfying to cook with food grown in our very own backyard. It definitely tastes better, right?
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to make a delicious kale Caesar salad!
🍲 Key ingredients
- Kale: this is one of the healthiest superfoods in the world, and it’s also in the same family as Brussels sprouts and cabbage. If you haven’t eaten kale before, it’s time you change your life for the better (inside and out). In a single cup, this cruciferous vegetable contains 206% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 684% vitamin K, and 134% vitamin C. Talk about the ultimate health food. And for all those thinking milk is the best source of calcium, just a 1/2 cup of cooked kale gives you the same amount as a glass of milk.
- Tempeh: often overshadowed by tofu, tempeh is starting to become more popular in the west. Tempeh is cooked soybeans that are fermented and pressed into a brick. Tofu differs from tempeh because it’s not fermented, nor is it made directly from soybeans (it’s actually made from condensed soy milk). Tempeh is one of those foods you just have to try to understand the flavor. It has an earthy, nutty, flavor with a distinct tang. We once heard it described as the “sourdough of plant protein,” which we think is very fitting. So, let’s talk about nutritional benefits. In a 3 oz serving, you’ll receive 15g of protein, 9 carbs, and 9 grams of healthy fats. Now, that’s a food you could live off of for the rest of your life!
- Chickpeas: we’re huge chickpea fans because they are so versatile. They can be utilized in so many different recipes, sweet or savoury. In this case, we use them as croutons by crisping them up in our oven. They come out light, airy, and crispy, just like a crouton should be. But, chickpeas are especially great to throw on salads since they add even more nutrients. In just a 2 oz serving, there is 4g of fiber and 6g of protein!
- Dressing: our recipe would not be complete without a creamy vegan caesar dressing. We made one specially for this kale salad, and we promise you won’t want to skip it. Caesar dressing needs to be perfectly balanced between richness, tang, and zest. And, let us tell you, we really hit the jackpot with this recipe. It’s going to take your salad from good to great!
To start this meal off, set your oven to 400 degrees F in preparation for roasting the chickpeas. Next, open, drain and rinse a can of chickpeas in a strainer. Alternatively, you can cook your own with a pressure cooker if you have one.
Once the chickpeas are ready, spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. We usually drizzle them with the oil and spices right on the pan to save a dish. Just don’t forget to mix everything around in order to coat them evenly! Bake your chickpeas for 25-30 minutes, or until they are golden and crispy. Make sure to mix them around at the half way mark.
Next, heat your oil in a pan over medium. Meanwhile, cut the tempeh into bite-size cubes. When you put your tempeh in the pan you should hear a slight sizzle (this means your pan is at the right temperature).
Cook the tempeh for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until it’s golden brown. You can add the garlic powder and liquid aminos whenever you like. But, we usually add them towards the end of cooking to prevent burning.
Once the chickpeas are finished, it’s time to build your salad. Gently massage the kale with our creamy vegan Caesar dressing, then top it with crispy tempeh cubes, chickpea croutons, and vegan parmesan.
This dish lasts nicely in the fridge for 3-4 days. The good thing about kale is it actually holds its shape, even after the dressing is added. If you’d like to get more storage time, only add the dressing when you’re about to eat it. Keep all of the ingredients in separate containers in your fridge.
💭 Budget tips
We think everyone should be able to eat better for less, so here are a few tricks to make this recipe even more affordable:
- Swap the kale for romaine lettuce
- Use tofu instead of tempeh or don’t use either
- Switch out liquid aminos for soy sauce (remember soy isn’t gluten-free)
♻️ Similar recipes
For more salads and dressings, check out these recipes:
- Mediterranean couscous salad for a quick, easy weeknight dinner with a light and refreshing dressing.
- Rainbow tofu buddha bowl to add all your nutrients in one place.
- Creamy vegan Caesar dressing to try an egg-free version of this classic.
- Garlicky orange spinach salad for a fresh, vibrant, and juicy recipe that is packed with nutrients!
- Beet and apple salad as a side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and more.
🍴 Tasting notes
This salad is everything you need to maintain a happy and healthy body. It’s:
If you try this recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Kale Caesar Salad With Tempeh & Chickpea Croutons
- 12 cups kale, washed and roughly chopped ($3.48)
- 1 ½ cups cooked chickpeas ($0.26)
- 1 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
- ½ tsp smoked paprika ($0.05)
- ¼ tsp cayenne ($0.02)
- ½ tbsp olive oil ($0.06)
- Salt & pepper to taste ($0.02)
- 8 oz tempeh ($2.25)
- 1 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
- 1 tbsp Braggs liquid aminos ($0.18)
- 1 tbsp olive oil ($0.12)
- To start, set your oven to 400°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Next, open, drain and rinse a can of chickpeas in a strainer. Alternatively, you can cook your own with a pressure cooker if you have one.
- Once the chickpeas are clean, spread them out on the parchment-lined baking pan. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle spices over the top, and mix everything to coat the chickpeas evenly.
- Bake the chickpeas for 25-30 minutes, or until they are golden and crispy. Make sure to mix them around at the half way mark.
- For the tempeh, heat olive oil in a pan over medium. Meanwhile, cut the tempeh into bite-size cubes. When you put your tempeh in the pan you should hear a slight sizzle (this means your pan is at the right temperature).
- Cook the tempeh for 4-5 minutes per side, or until it’s golden brown. Season with garlic powder and liquid aminos with about 2 minutes remaining. Adding the liquid aminos in near the end will prevent burning.
Classic romaine lettuce can replace the kale in this recipe. Although we love the taste, texture, and added health benefits that accompany kale.
If you can’t find tempeh where you live, you can substitute it with firm or extra-firm tofu.
The purpose of massaging kale is to break down the tough, fibrous characteristics of its raw form. This makes it easier to chew and digest, and it also reduces the bitterness.