The creamy, salty and crunchy mixture of dressed greens that goes by the name Caesar is technically a salad but not a particularly healthy one. That’s about to change. This heart-healthy iteration uses nutrient-rich kale, which is roasted to soften the fibrous green, instead of romaine lettuce. The dressing swaps luscious avocado for the traditional mayonnaise, and with additions of zesty garlic, briny anchovy paste and nutty parmesan cheese, you won’t even taste the mellow flavor of the green fruit. Croutons are an essential component of a Caesar salad, and this version doesn’t skimp. It opts for seasoned and baked whole-grain cubes to add fiber and texture. Now you can enjoy a Caesar salad and stay within the bounds of your diet.
Roasted Kale Salad with Avocado Caesar Dressing
1 pound kale, leaves stripped from stems
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 stalk celery, sliced very thin on a mandoline
2 to 3 slices whole grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 ounce block parmesan cheese, shaved into strips with a peeler
Avocado Caesar Dressing
1 large avocado, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1½ teaspoons minced garlic
¼ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon anchovy paste or two anchovy fillets in oil
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 to 4 tablespoons water depending on ripeness of avocado
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash and dry the kale then roughly chop the leaves. Place the kale into a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Arrange the seasoned kale in a thin layer on several sheet pans and bake for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the kale is bright green and the edges begin to brown. Allow the kale to cool for 5 minutes on the sheet pan then transfer them to a large bowl with the thinly sliced celery.
Toss the cubed bread with 2 tablespoons olive oil, parmesan cheese, and hot red pepper flakes. Spread the bread onto a sheet pan (can be the same sheet pan used to roast the kale), and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 to 6 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.
In a small food processor or blender, combine all dressing ingredients except the water; pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides then blend on low speed while drizzling in enough water until the dressing reaches a creamy texture.
Spoon 4 to 5 tablespoons of the avocado caesar dressing into the bowl of kale and celery; toss to coat all ingredients evenly. Add most of the seasoned croutons to the bowl and gently toss once more. Serve the salad on a large platter and top with reserved croutons and shavings of parmesan cheese.
Article originally published in the Boston Herald on February 7, 2018.