This Caesar-Style Salad Is Perfect for Fall and Winter
Kale tastes better after it’s been exposed to frost — which is why we see so much of it in our markets starting in October and extending into winter. Its peak flavor and growing season arrive just when other locally grown greens become scarce.
Though kale is typically cooked, it can also make a terrific raw salad. The trick is to finely chop or “shave” the fresh kale.
Because kale has big, bold flavor, you need to use a dressing that is equally rambunctious. What could be better than a riff on the classic Caesar dressing? Here I use extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice to mellow sharp Dijon mustard and pungent anchovies. This combo creates a dressing that, when tossed with kale, creates a lively flavor combo that dances on your tongue. Add some sharp cheese and you’ll be blissed out, guaranteed.
This salad is easy to make. And it’s equally at home served with soup and bread, or as the first course of an elegant meal. With fall and winter entertaining season here, this is a timely dish you’ll soon learn to love.
Recipe: Chopped Kale Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing
I was inspired to create this recipe after eating Shaved Kale Salad at the newly opened Pastaria Restaurant in St. Louis. This salad was new to me, but I was aware that chopped kale was getting trendy. There’s a recipe for a similar salad in the July 2011 issue of Bon Appétit magazine, for example. My salad is adapted from that recipe and from my memory of the one at Pastaria.
The flavor profile of this salad is similar to Caesar, though this dish differs in several ways — there’s no raw egg, for one thing. But a Caesar-friendly dressing still works well.
Making Chopped Kale Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing is quick and easy. You just cream some garlic, anchovies, and mustard together with lemon juice, beat in extra virgin olive oil, and toss with chopped kale and Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese. Then serve, preferably topped with Homemade Croutons. Nothing could be easier.
This recipe serves 4 and takes about 15 minutes to prepare. You can make the salad dressing ahead of time (it will keep in the refrigerator for about a day). In the Procedure, I detail the method for making this dressing in the blender, but you can also make it by hand (see details in the Notes).
- ~1 pound fresh kale, stemmed and finely chopped (a big bunch; about 8 cups)
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
- 2-ounce can of anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, drained (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (you can add a bit more if you want a mustard-forward flavor)
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 ounce freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup; or to taste)
- a good handful of Homemade Croutons as a garnish (optional)
- Wash the kale and dry well. Remove center stems (just pull them out as you would when cleaning spinach). Chop kale finely. The easiest way to do this is to take several leaves, roll them together lengthwise, then mince. You may want to turn your chopping board 90 degrees and mince again. See Notes for more discussion.
- Peel the garlic, smash it flat with a knife, and mince finely. Add minced garlic to blender (I pre-mince because I find that blenders often don’t mince garlic finely enough on their own).
- Remove anchovies from can, drain, and add to blender.
- Add Dijon mustard to blender.
- Juice the lemons, and add the juice to blender.
- Whirl the blender until you’ve formed a smooth puree. With the blender running, slowly drizzle the oil in — you want a fine stream. At the beginning (until an emulsion begins to form), you may even want to add it by drops. See Notes.
- When the dressing is made, taste and season with salt and pepper to taste. At this point, you can store the dressing in an airtight container for several hours or overnight. If you do so, make sure to vigorously shake the container (to re-establish the emulsion) before proceeding with the next step.
- Add chopped kale to a large bowl, and pour in the dressing. Toss well.
- Add about half the grated cheese and toss briefly (~15 seconds) to incorporate.
- Plate the salad, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the plates (or pass it around at table so diners can add as much as they want), and garnish with optional croutons. Serve.
- If you prefer to make the dressing by hand, here’s how to do so: Finely mince the garlic and anchovies together into a paste (a mortar and pestle works well for this). Add the mustard and lemon juice and whisk well to combine. Then add the oil drop by drop, whisking all the while. As an emulsion forms, you can add the oil a bit more quickly. Then season, and proceed.
- When making the dressing either in the blender or by hand, it’s important to add the oil slowly at first. If you add too much at once, you may have trouble forming the emulsion. Although the presence of mustard makes this less likely (mustard really helps form an emulsion, in addition to providing a pleasant flavor), it can still happen.
- Even people who don’t like anchovies tend to like this dressing. It doesn’t taste “fishy,” just pleasantly tangy.
- A bit of cayenne pepper adds some pleasant zing to the dressing.
- You want to chop the kale finely because it’s more pleasant to eat than if you leave the pieces large. But you don’t have to be fanatical about reducing it to a mince! You’re looking for pieces perhaps ¼ inch wide (or a bit less) and up to an inch (or so) long. But whatever size you fancy will likely taste good.
- As far as I can tell, people use the terms “chopped” and “shaved” interchangeably for finely chopped kale.
- I like the sharp taste of Pecorino Romano in this salad, but Parmesan works too (it has a creamier taste).
- In addition to resembling Caesar Salad, this dish shares some similarities with Spinach Salad with Parmesan, which we did last year.
Fall Is the Start of Entertaining Season
Though we entertain year round, our social calendar always seems to get a bit fuller in the autumn. The cool, crisp weather we’re having in the Northern Hemisphere is sharpening our appetites, so we crave heartier dishes — dishes that are perfect for sharing with friends and family. So this week and the next two on Kitchen Riffs, we’ll be talking about some company-appropriate dishes. This salad would make a perfect starter for any meal, fancy or not.
Later this week, we’ll discuss Boeuf Bourguignon, a/k/a Beef Burgundy. It’s a relatively simple dish, but one that does take some time and attention to prepare, so it’s perfect for serving to company.
Next week? We’ll discuss Roast Potatoes first. They’re wonderful for a weekday meal, but they also put a smile on the face of any guest lucky enough to be served them. We’ll finish the week with Roast Chicken — another relatively simple dish, but one that’s not served so much these days (supermarket rotisserie chickens don’t count). It makes fine company fare. Plus, roasting a chicken is good practice for the turkey roasting many of us will be doing late in November!
And of course no meal is complete without great bread and a scrumptious dessert. So they're on the menu for the following week. The bread is flavorful and incredibly easy to make, and the dessert — a grape tart — is one that has brought cheers to the lips of everyone who has tasted it.
So relax and enjoy your Chopped Kale Salad with Creamy Lemon Dressing, and contemplate the feast to come.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Spinach Salad with Parmesanbr /> Spinach Salad with Hot Bacon Dressing
Creamy Cole Slaw
Potato Salad Basics
Edamame and Bean Salad
Hungarian Cucumber Salad
Pineapple, Coconut, and Carrot Salad
WOW, this sounds fabulous! What a great way to enjoy kale. I would imagine this dressing would be lovely on any number of things, even roasted veggies!
Hi Kristy, it is indeed a fabulous salad. Easy to make, extremely healthy, and incredible flavor. And you're right about the dressing - it sounds like a natural to put on roast veggies! Thanks for the comment.
What a simple, healthy, beautiful salad! And I have a fresh jar of anchovies that needs to be used :)
What a healthy and delicious looking salad my friend, love kale :D
Choc Chip Uru
Hi Lizzy, I think you need to put that jar of anchovies to work in this dish! It's really a terrific tasting salad - I think you'll like it. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Uru, it' really great! Great way to eat kale. Thanks for commenting.
To be honest, I haven't tried using kale yet. It has been in my bucket list of ingredients to try but it's been years :(.
Btw, I smiled when I saw you stop by my blog. You know why, I planned to come here after visiting Charlie's (Hotly Spiced) but you beat me to coming to my kitchen first... But I'm glad to be here and learning something new as always. Thank you and enjoy the windy STL day.
I love kale. This salad looks super healthy, I have not given raw kale a go yet. Though the dressing for this would be the best way to try it for the first time. Yummo.
Hi Malou, it's worth trying - loads of flavor and nutrition. I often like adding it to bean soups. I always enjoying visiting your blog, and am glad you like it here, too! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Lizzie, I have always cooked kale in the past, and was surprised at how good it was when raw. Of course the dressing helps - its flavor is huge! So good. Thanks for the comment.
Now this is a healthy bowl of greens. Couldn't get much better than this. I wonder if my family would eat this!
I like eating kale, it is so healthy. The salad dressing that you made for you salad sounds delicious. The pictures are amazing too.
This sounds wonderful and it's so pretty too! I haven't had a kale salad but you've got me intrigued !
Even though I am a Kale lover of epic proportions, I only had my first Kale Caeser last week and have been obsessing on making one ASAP. I love your version and may have to make this one!
Usually I massage the kale and use a sweet salad dressing, but I really like your version of the finely short kale and a Caesar dressing! I'm going to be trying this! We eat a lot of kale salads so trying a completely different version is going to be fun!
Simple salads like this feel so refreshing. I like the surprise element of the anchovies, which does indeed take it somewhere near to a caesar salad. We eat very little kale here but I must search it out and try it.
Hi Vicki, if your family likes Caesar salad, they'll probably like this. Just tell them you're serving a chopped Caesar salad. ;-) They'll lap it right up. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Words of Deliciousness, kale is really delicious stuff, and this dressing boosts it to another level. Thanks for your kinds words, and comment.
Hi Café Sucré Farine, isn't this pretty? And the flavor is great - really a nice dish. We had this again last night, and I'm thinking of serving it next weekend, too. Can't get enough of it! Thanks for your comment.
Hi everydaymaven, isn't the flavor of this type of salad awesome? You can play with the dressing ingredients a bit to get the flavor you prefer. In particular, adding more garlic (if you like garlic) is very pleasant. Thanks for your comment.
Hi MJ, oh - I should try a sweet salad dressing. Since you like kale salads, you absolutely have to try this! It's really a great salad. Let me know how you like it! Thanks for commenting.
Hi Suzanne, the anchovies really add a nice flavor kick. I think you'll like this salad - kale has a lot of flavor to begin with, and combine it with this dressing and you have a really nice dish. Thanks for your comment.
Kale is the new "it'' veggie and I couldn't be happier about it. I love the stuff. I even started growing it in my backyard this year.
This looks so good... I have all the ingredients at home... I'll be making this tomorrow for lunch:)
Not only does this sound like a terrific recipe it looks pretty too! the dressing sounds wonderful and I can't wait to give it a try! :)
This might be a winter salad but it's nearly summer and I want this right now! It looks wonderful.
I love these flavors you've brought together! Kale is really turning into the trendy veggie to eat! YUM!
What a great looking salad! I've just been getting into kale - another great way to enjoy it - especially with the cheese and the lemon dressing, mm so good!
Yum I'm a kale nut! Love it any which way, and I know I would adore this salad. Looking forward to your entertaining series.
Hi Carolyn, I hadn't thought about kale being the new "it" vegetable, but now that you mention it, I have been seeing a lot of kale on restaurant menus for some time now. We should grow it too - we grow tons of Swiss chard because we like it, and kale (I believe) likes a similar growing environment. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Tania, I hope you enjoy your lunch! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Baker Street, it is a rather pretty salad, isn't it? The dressing is great! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Maureen, you can eat it in warm weather, too! Lot of great, young kale early in the growing season. It's just that frost-kissed kale is particularly succulent. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Family Spice, I guess kale is getting trendy - funny how these things happen sometimes. But it's got great flavor, so it makes sense. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Christine, this really is a nice recipe. I'm craving it right now! Truly good stuff. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Katherine, isn't kale wonderful? Such great flavor, and if you're a kale nut, this salad is for you! Glad you're looking forward to the entertaining-worthy recipes that will occupy us for the rest of the month, and thanks for your comment.
You know what the sad thing is? I have never tried kale before! Why? When I can make a delicious salad like this?
This is the perfect post for someone who has about 20 kale plants still producing in the garden - beautiful!
I had just read in my gardening magazine about kale tasting better after a frost, which makes sense as to why I like it better in the late fall and winter. The dressing sounds very similar to Caesar, which prompts me to add kale to my next Caesar salad too. Great post.
Hi Cathleen, well now is the perfect time to try kale! This salad is so tasty, you'll thank me. ;-) Thanks for your comment.
Hi Donalyn, I've decided I'm going to grow kale next year! I envy you your 20 plants - lots of salad there! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judy, one of the fun things about gardening is each season has its advantages. And although young kale tastes terrific in the spring, autumn and early winter is when it really shines. Thanks for your comment.
Great way to enjoy kale raw! I have a similar recipe here: http://eating-made-easy.com/2011/05/26/kale-caesar-salad/ Great minds think alike!
I make similar dressing for Nicoise salad and it has capers in it and we LOVE that dressing. I'm going to eat kale with your dressing next time. I love anchovies + lemon + Dijon combo!!
absolutely mouthwatery recipe
Hi John, I am ready for the feast to come, I am so tiered of take outs, can't wait when I open my kitchen again (not in a few weeks though)... I love your kale salad! I love kale let's begin with it, then I really love anchovies, the combination is brilliant. When my kitchen is open, I'll make it! :)
Hi Diana, great minds indeed! ;-) Thanks for stopping by.
Hi Nami, capers would make a nice addition to this salad, I think - I'll give that a try. The kale has a somewhat more intense flavor than romaine lettuce, so I think you'll find this salad pleasant. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Jay, it is! It is! ;-) Thanks for commenting.
Hi Mariana, the feast will be a good one! This salad is great - I think you'd find it very enjoyable. Bummer that your kitchen is shut down because of the move, but let's hope it's soon open again. Thanks for your comment.
This is one healthy plate :)
I made kale chips before but never tried raw in the salad. I don't like too much dealing with steaming or blanching the greens. Just give it to me raw! I am looking forward to the roasting chicken post because that is on my bucket list. Never roasted a whole chicken before!
That's a terrific looking salad that's so good for you. I was watching our morning news program this morning and there was a dietician on the screen talking about the benefits of eating lots of kale! xx
Hi Marta, it is. Tasty, too. ;-) Thanks for your comment.
Hi Ilke, it's really good raw. Particularly with this dressing! And roasting a chicken is easy. Do it once, and you'll do it all the time. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Hotly Spiced, isn't it nice looking? And you're right about kale being exceptionally healthy - it's packed with nutrition. Thanks for the comment.
I'm not so familiar with kale, but the salad looks so fresh, healthy and delicious. Is it a lot like spinach? Am looking forward to the next few weeks recipes!
Hi Ali, there's a bit of a resemblance in flavor between spinach and kale, although spinach has a much more delicate leaf, and the leaves of kale are rougher and coarser in texture. Kale is closer to Swiss chard or the "bitter" greens like mustard (not as heavy duty as collard greens, however). Hope you enjoy the upcoming recipes, and thanks for your comment.
What a great healthy recipe! I have never tried a kale salad before, but it looks very fresh and delicious the way you prepared it.
Oh! I just bought two bunches of kale, but make chips...now I have to but more to try this salad...looks delicious and so refreshing, and yes with anchovies...yum!
Hope you are having a fantastic week :)
Hi Kristi, kale salad is definitely worth a try - it's so wonderful. I think you'll enjoy it. Thanks for commenting.
Hi Juliana, sorry to send you back to the store for more kale! ;-) It's worth the trip, though - this is a wonderful salad. Thanks for your comment.
Wonderful idea to use kale for a caesar salad! This is a must share recipe for sure.
Hi Mother Rimmy, isn't this a nice salad? Tons of flavor and fairly healthy (olive oil is good for you!). Thanks for the comment.
Oh I didn't know that it tastes better when its exposed to frost! I doubt my mum and aunty know that either. We grow Kale in europe but I don't remember my mum using it that often. Unfortunately I wont be able to get this health green leaf here so soon. Thanks for sharing your salad with the caesar dressing idea. I like it!
I grow Kale and so rarely eat it raw, the dressing sounds perfect, thanks for the recipe and tips !
If all salads look and sound as good as this, I'd be eating a lot more of it. :P I'm usually not a huge salad person but this does look very delicious!
Hi Helene, it certainly tastes good in the spring and summer, but fall and early winter is when it's best - at least in the varieties grown in the US. Thanks for your comment.
Hi Claire, there are other ways of preparing kale raw that are tasty, but this is by far the best I've had! Thanks for your comment.
Hi Jenny, this salad is so good I could make an entire meal out of it! Huge taste - it' worth trying. Thanks for the comment.
This does look really good. I have always cooked my kale except those baby kale that comes in salad bags. I will have to give it a try.
Hi Biren, this is so good I'm making it again tonight! Definitely something worth trying. Thanks for commenting.
what a perfect and seasonal recipe - I have kale growing on the allotment and love a winter salad ! One to try and try soon :) Thanks
Hi Claire, sounds like a good use of your kale to me! Hope you enjoy it, and thanks for commenting.
I was excited to find your recipe!! We had just eaten at Pastaria inSt.Louis and I loved the kale salad along with everything else I had there. Just wondered if there were toasted breadcrumbs mixed into the salad as well?
Hi Jae, there are, as I recall, toasted breadcrumbs in the Pastaria salad, but not in mine - I didn't find the breadcrumbs all that interesting, tastewise. But they're easy enough to include - maybe a quarter cup or so of buttered breadcrumbs should work (I'm guessing -I haven't tried this). Thanks for the comment.
I was looking for a kale recipe. I love the dressing you've created. I know what I'm serving on the side next to our steaks tonight!
Hi Kristi, oooh, this would be wonderful with steak! Such a great combo of flavors! Thanks for the comment.
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