Kale Caesar Salad with Tofu Croutons & Kalamata Caesar Dressing

I pride myself on creating vegetarian recipes that even hardcore carnivores will love. This kale Caesar salad, well … it’s a bit of an exception. It really doesn’t even try. The thing is, I personally think it’s really kind of incredible, so the meat-eaters that turn their nose up at this one are, in my opinion, totally missing out.

Well, hey! More for us.

Kale Caesar Salad with Tofu Croutons & Kalamata Caesar Dressing | Kitchen Treaty

I’m really not even sure where I came up with this one. I’ve been dreaming of a vegetarian-friendly, olive-based Caesar salad dressing for awhile – ever since I spied this verson from the always-lovely Sprouted Kitchen. The kale is because I’ve been wanting to make a kale salad for awhile, I guess. And the tofu croutons? Well, I wanted to add tofu, and then I realized I could saute it up all crispy and wonderful and it would double as croutons as well.

Kale Caesar Salad with Tofu Croutons & Kalamata Caesar Dressing | Kitchen Treaty

And thus, a salad was born.

Kale Caesar Salad with Tofu Croutons & Kalamata Caesar Dressing | Kitchen Treaty

The kale is sturdy and leafy, perfect for holding up lots of glorious, crispy tofu. You can use which ever kind of kale you like. Me, I went hog-wild and used three different kinds for a seriously attractive salad – curly green, curly red, and some lacinato (also known as dinosaur kale) for good measure. 

And the dressing! I’ve never made one like it. Thanks to the kalamata olives, it’s such a pretty purple hue. But it doesn’t just look good. This stuff is freakin’ delicious. It’s garlicky and bright, with just the right level of pungent saltiness. No anchovies needed – and no Parmesan either (at least not in the dressing – I do like to shave some on top of the finished product before devouring). 

Kale Caesar Salad with Tofu Croutons & Kalamata Caesar Dressing | Kitchen Treaty

If you can get your beloved meat-eaters to go for the kale and the dressing but they’re not so sure about the tofu, try adding traditional croutons and some grilled chicken to the mix.

More tofu for you.

Kale Caesar Salad with Tofu Croutons & Kalamata Caesar Dressing | Kitchen Treaty

All hail kale!

Print Recipe

Kale Caesar Salad with Tofu Croutons & Kalamata Caesar Dressing

This 100% vegetarian Caesar salad gets its incredible flavor from its pretty purple kalamata olive dressing. And move over, bread ... tofu croutons are in town, and they're freakin' delicious.

Yield: 2 servings as a main; 4 servings as a side

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

For the tofu croutons:

  • 1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (or other high smoke-point oil like vegetable or canola)
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

For the kalamata Caesar dressing:

  • 10 kalamata olives, pitted (about 1/3 cup)
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vegetarian Worchestershire sauce
  • A couple turns of freshly ground black pepper (about 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

For the salad:

  • 5-6 cups kale, washed, dried well, and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Lemon wedges and a few shavings of Parmesan cheese, if desired

Directions:

  1. Make the tofu croutons. Remove the block of tofu from its packaging and drain the water. Press the tofu by laying a half dozen or so paper towels on a dinner plate and placing the tofu on top. Add a couple more paper towels and top with 4 or 5 more dinner plates. Let sit for 20-30 minutes, checking occasionally to move the plates if they're off balance. Or, much easier, use a tofu press!
  2. Set the tofu on a cutting board and cut it into crouton-size pieces, about 3/4-inch big.
  3. Heat the grapeseed oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. On a large plate or in a shallow baking dish, combine the corn starch, garlic powder, and salt with a fork. Working in batches, dredge the tofu in the corn starch mixture, turning to coat evenly. Carefully add tofu to hot oil in skillet. Cook on medium-high for about 10 minutes, turning occasionally to brown most sides. Remove tofu from pan and place on several paper towels, blotting to remove excess oil.
  4. Make the dressing. To a food processor or high-power blender, add the olives, garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, vinegar, Worchestershire sauce, and pepper. Pulse until smooth, about 30 seconds. Drizzle in the olive oil and blend until smooth and creamy, about 15-20 seconds more.
  5. Prepare the salad. Add the kale to a large bowl and drizzle the dressing over the top. Toss well to coat all of the leaves. Top with the tofu croutons and a few shavings of Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve with additional lemon wedges to squeeze over the top.

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8 Responses to “Kale Caesar Salad with Tofu Croutons & Kalamata Caesar Dressing”

  1. Maria Tadic posted on April 9, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Tofu croutons are the bomb! Everyone should eat these…all the time. I do and I love them! Can’t wait to try this dressing! Caesar is my fav!

  2. Amy posted on April 9, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    All hail kale! And peace, deliciousness and crispy tofu croutons shall be yours!
    This looks super delicious, and though I won’t be able to tempt the meat lover in my life to get anywhere near kale I won’t be sad because it means more for me!

  3. Lauren @ Dash of Soul posted on April 9, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    WOAH–tofu croutons??? GENIUS! Pinning this now. :)

  4. Sinclairika posted on April 10, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    This looks delicious. Now I know what I’ll be doing with the tofu I bought last night. ;)
    Since you’re local, where’d you get the kale? I’ve never see the red before?

    • Karen Troughton replied on April 11th, 2014 on 12:01 pm

      Hey! I bought the kale at Haggen but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all the varieties at Central Market, too. :)

  5. Joanne posted on April 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    HI! This sounds like yummy recipe that I’ll hve to try. I’m currently starting to transition to a plant-based diet and am learning lots of new recipes. Using kalamata olives as dressing is soo new to me and tofu croutons too! I never thought of it. I’ll definitely have to try it. Thanks for sharing! :)

  6. Holly posted on April 11, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    This sounds super delicious. I love kale, I love Caesar salad and tofu is pretty darn good too. Do the tofu croutons actually get crispy? I’m definitely going to have to try it. I hope it turns out as good as it sounds. :)

  7. Tara Gordon posted on April 23, 2014 at 1:58 pm

    No words. This is delicious! I had it at a friend’s house last week and was blown away. I just made my own and am about to eat the entire large bowl. Thank you, fantastic recipe!

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