This Kale Chicken Caesar Salad is topped with crispy chicken, creamy garlic dressing & quick-pickled radishes and almonds for extra crunch. Massaging the kale makes it extra tender.
This Kale Chicken Caesar Salad, or some sort of variation of it, has become my go-to salad lately. I first made it as part of my Blue Apron delivery and it came with some beautiful watermelon radishes – I’m constantly on the lookout for them now… They’re just so pretty with their green skins and bright pink interiors. Unfortunately, I’m not always lucky enough to find them. So, as in the salad I photographed here, I often use the regular variety. They’re quick-pickled in a bit of red wine vinegar and olive oil, and ready to go in about ten minutes – They add a nice bit of acidity and crunch to the salad. I also threw some radish sprouts on top, for a bit of an added spicy bite.
I love that the chicken is just lightly breaded, and then quick fried. It’s juicy and tender, and those little golden bits are almost like chicken croutons or little chicken nuggets. Honestly, it’s a miracle that many of them even find their way onto my salad, because I tend to like snacking on them straight out of the pan 🙂
I’ll call the dressing for this salad “Caesar-like” – because it’s not really traditional in that it doesn’t have lemon juice or anchovies. Instead, this dressing can easily be made with ingredients you probably already have on hand – Garlic, red wine vinegar, olive oil and mayonnaise. It’s creamy and tangy with a nice pungent bite from the garlic. I’ve even made this salad with just the kale and Caesar dressing – It’s flavorful enough all on its own, without any additional fancy ingredients – It’s simple, but really delicious. But the key ingredient to this tasty salad isn’t the amazing dressing. Nope… there’s a second key ingredient here…. Massaging the kale.
I always feel a little guilty when I make this salad – First, because Rick doesn’t really like mayonnaise, but he loves this salad… (I haven’t told him it’s in there yet). And second, because the kale gets a really good massage… We’re talking a deep, vigorous massage for at least a few minutes – Rick only gets a massage when we go to the spa.
The massaging of the kale is what makes it nice and tender – It turns the kale from something you have to almost gnaw at, into a more delicate texture, much more similar to traditional lettuce, and all those flavors from the dressing really get worked into every little crevice, ensuring that each bite you take is super flavorful. As an added bonus, that olive oil and mayonnaise really gives your hands a nice moisturizing 😉 Like when you go to the spa…
To finish things off, a sprinkling of chopped almonds and a little extra parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. The result is a crunchy, creamy, tangy Kale Chicken Caesar Salad that’s so good, you’ll want to eat it for both dinner tonight and lunch the next day. And I’ll tell you that that is a possibility because the kale holds up really nicely for a couple days, it doesn’t get soggy like lettuce or spinach. I always like to make a bit extra just for that reason.
Have you given kale a good massage yet? Try it – I’m guessing you’ll love it!
Kale Chicken Caesar Salad
- 2 bunches kale tough stems removed and roughly chopped
- 6 chicken thighs boneless and skinless
- 4 Tbsp flour
- 4 Tbsp almonds chopped
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 6 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 ½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced or zested
- ½ cup grated parmesan divided
- 6 radishes thinly sliced
- 1 ½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
In a bowl, combine the radishes, vinegar and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Let marinate for at least 10 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine mayonnaise, vinegar, olive oil, garlic and half of the parmesan cheese. Whisk to combine and season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the kale and dressing. Using your hands, firmly massage the kale for 3-4 minutes, until tenderized slightly. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.
Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and place in a large Ziploc bag along with the flour and a pinch of salt and pepper. Seal the bag and shake to coat the chicken pieces evenly.
In a large nonstick pan, heat a thin layer of oil on medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken in a single layer and cook, turning occasionally, until golden and cooked through, 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate.
To the bowl of dressed kale, add the cooked chicken, marinated radishes (drained), almonds and remaining cheese. Toss gently to combine and serve.
Inspired by a recipe from Blue Apron
Wine Pairing for Kale Chicken Caesar Salad:
- Look for a wine with a good amount of tanginess to it – It will match nicely with the salty acidity in the dressing and the creamy parmesan cheese. Try a Vinho Verde or a dry Rosé. (Here are some great Rosé wines under $10.)
Looking for more salad recipes? Try these:
- 10-Minute Chickpea Guacamole Salad
- Lemongrass Thai Chicken Salad
- Fully Loaded Chipotle Chicken Salad
- Roasted Lemon and Tomato Salad
- Thai Brussels Sprouts Salad