It pains me a bit when I see a perfectly nourishing meal get the goodness beaten out of it by how it’s prepared. Take a typical fast food taco salad. It starts with lettuce, tomatoes, beans, vegetables, a little cheese, a scoop of guacamole — all perfectly healthy stuff. But when the whole things gets tossed into a deep-fried tortilla bowl and doused in a not-so-favorable dressing, it becomes one of the most caloric items on the menu. Same goes for a classic Caesar, which loses its nutritional luster when smothered in heavy dressing, too much cheese, and substandard croutons.

Recipes to Fuel your MIND

Not to worry. There’s a bright, shiny, and very nourishing new Caesar on the scene with much to offer. It’s a recipe from the just-released book by chef and registered dietitian Julie Andrews called The Mind Diet Plan & Cookbook. The entire book has a laser focus on how to eat well as a way to prevent or delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. If you read my series last year on brain health, you know the deep connection between what we put on our plate and the aging brain. Julie’s book is an ideal continuation of that conversation, showing you, step-by-step, how to put a brain-healthy diet into play through meal plans, food lists, and delicious recipes.

A Healthier Caesar

Julie’s recipe for Kale Caesar is an excellent example of how she approaches all of the food in the book. The emphasis is first and foremost on flavor, something she manages to pull off while still firmly committed to food that fuels the body. In this salad, she loads up on brain-healthy ingredients — kale, chick peas, and olive oil — and scales back on the not-so-nourishing ones. The result hits all the high notes of a Caesar salad, but with a boatload more nutrition.

The Crunch of Chick Peas

The crispy chick peas in this Caesar are its addictive crowning touch. Good luck having the discipline to save them for your salad. Luckily, they are snap to make in a hot oven, so I suggest you do a double batch and set the extras aside for snacking.

To learn more about Julie and the MIND Diet Plan & Cookbook, head here to her website. To pick up a copy of the book, talk to your local bookseller or have one delivered to your doorstep with a few clicks on Amazon.

Looking for more inspired salad recipes? Check these out:

A Kale Salad Kids Love

Turkey Taco Salad with Cumin Lime Dressing

Crunchy Asian-Style Salad with Chicken/Tofu Skewers

Warm Spinach Salad Crispy Prosciutto & Soft Egg

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Kale and Crispy Chick Pea Caesar Salad

Caesar dressing is typically high in saturated fat, so I gave it a nutritional upgrade here by using extra-virgin olive oil as the base ingredient. It’s bursting with flavor from fresh Parmesan, anchovies, garlic, lemon, and Worcestershire sauce, and it goes perfectly with a hearty green like kale. Instead of traditional croutons, roasted chickpeas add a healthy crunch.
Course Dinner, Lunch
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 326 kcal
Author katiemorford

Ingredients

For the crispy chickpeas

  • One 15-ounce can no-salt- added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt or sea salt

For the dressing and salad

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ anchovy fillet, finely minced, or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Zest and juice of ½ medium lemon
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To assemble the salad

  • 1 large bunch lacinato kale, stemmed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

To roast the chick peas

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 

  2. Lay paper towels out on a cutting board. Pour the chickpeas onto the paper towels and pat them dry. Transfer the chickpeas to a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the olive oil and salt; toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet, and spread the chickpeas in one even layer. Roast in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until crispy, stirring halfway through. Remove the chickpeas from the oven and set them aside to cool.

To make the dressing

  1. In the same bowl you used to season the chickpeas, whisk together the olive oil, mayonnaise, Parmesan, anchovy, garlic, lemon zest and juice, Worcestershire, sugar, salt, and black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasonings, if necessary.

To assemble the salad

  1. Add the kale to the bowl and stir to thoroughly coat it with the dressing.
  2. When ready to serve, distribute the dressed kale among four large bowls. Top each serving with crispy chickpeas and Parmesan cheese.

  3. Store the kale salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Store the chickpeas in an airtight container or a sealed plastic bag at room temperature for up to 7 days. Toss together just before serving.

Kale and Crispy Chick Pea Salad by Julie Andrews is reprinted with permission from The Mind Diet Meal Plan & Cookbook (Callisto Media, 2019)