kale salad with avocado caesar 1

Somewhere in the course of trying to decide what to say about this salad, I found myself googling, “has kale salad jumped the shark?”

That question turns up quite a lot of hits.  I kind of thought it might.

It’s a question that seems to encapsulate the overall discussion of kale these days.  The narrative goes:  “kale has made a comeback.  No one used to eat kale, now it’s trendy…so trendy it has shown up on every restaurant menu everywhere and large food companies are making kale shishkahoozles and whatkabobs…ugh, kale is soo overdone.  Kale has totally jumped the shark.”

garlic for avocado caesar

Similar narratives have been constructed for other food trends like quinoa or cakepops, bacon and cupcakes.  Actually, I kind of think this is what defines food trends.  A food that has been languishing in relative obscurity has a resurgence in popularity, it appears at cutting edge places, then it appears everywhere, everyone gets sick of it, then the trend is over, except you still see the food in restaurants that are clearly behind the times and then you can feel smug because you know whatever food it is is not in anymore but they seem to have missed the memo.

It’s a really weird way to think about food, isn’t it?  I mean, I totally fall for it sometimes and have caught myself feeling as smug and superior as the next person who has a tendency to read a lot about food when I see a new place open up that’s all proud because it has truffled tater tots, when actually truffled tater tots are so three years ago, maybe four.  But, I will be the first to say it’s weird.

avocado for caesar

I guess it’s bound to happen in some guise in a field where there is a drive for innovation and change.  And innovation and change in food is great.  I love food traditions, but even food traditions need to be kept fresh.  I think traditions are more homeostatic – in a state of constant change to stay apparently consistent – than constant.  Therefore, I love food innovations.

Still, I really like kale salad, and I want to keep making and talking about kale salads, even if kale salads are at this point an overwrought theme.  Ok?  Good.

avocado caesar dressing 1

After having seen a kale salad with caesar dressing from Bon Appetit or some such place I have had the intention to make one for at least 9 months now, maybe more.  But as these things sometimes go, it just kept not happening.  Until last week. That was when I suddenly remembered an avocado caesar dressing from the inimitable InPatsKitchen, which I tested for Food52 about a year ago.

Everything Pat makes is awesome, and so had been the avocado caesar salads.  Imagining that dressing on shredded kale was more than enough to send me running into the kitchen to get to work.

This dressing has all the punchy salt and tang of your standard caesar salad dressing, laced as it is with layers of anchovies, mayo, lemon juice, Worcestershire, and Parmesan.  But, the avocado makes it unreasonably silky.  You know how in commercials for fancy shampoo, they show someone with beautiful but slightly frizzy hair, and then they show how the shampoo has some sort of magical agent that soothes the hair and tames it and in the end the hair looks like a beautiful, shimmering, cascading waterfall?  Well, that’s sort of what blending in avocado does to caesar dressing.  It turns it into the shimmering waterfall version of itself.

avocado caesar dressing 2

This dressing is about as thick and powerful as a cascading waterfall as well, so it needs something hearty to stand up to it.  Tender lettuces would be mauled into a limp pile by it, but crunchy romaine does the trick, and it turns out that leathery, toothy kale is perfect.  The two together make for a heartily filling, intensely flavorful salad.  You practically don’t need anything else to make it a meal.  Which is not to say it isn’t delicious with some chicken or shrimp.  Which would make it an updated version of a retro classic.  Which would be so trendy, eh?

p.s. We didn’t have any bread in the house, so I didn’t make the salad with croutons.  But, I think croutons would add some excellent crunch, so I’m putting them into the recipe as an option.  If you want to keep it gluten free, just leave them out!  You could add some pine nuts or something for crunch instead.

p.p.s.  Speaking of Food52, I’m thrilled and delighted to be writing a new column for them, all about what I’m eating for breakfast, woo!  Think of it sort of like a breakfast version of Canal House Cooks Lunch, but with recipes.  It should be every Thursday! Check it out.

kale salad with avocado caesar 2

5.0 from 4 reviews
Kale salad with avocado caesar dressing
Serves: 6-8
  • 5-6 anchovies, preserved in oil
  • 2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 whole avocado, peeled and diced
  • the juice from half of a lemon
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup good quality mayo (homemade, if you can)
  • ½ cup finely shredded Parmesan
  • 2 bunches of kale - I like to use lacinto, but any variety will work
  • 3 cups cubed crusty bread, like baguette (optional)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Put the anchovies into a food processor along with the garlic, Worcestershire, and Dijon. Pulse together to chop up the garlic.
  2. Add the avocado, lemon juice, olive oil, and mayonnaise. Process until smooth. If the dressing seems way too thick, add in a tsp. or two of water and process again.
  3. Transfer the dressing to a bowl, stir in the Parmesan, and place saran wrap directly on the surface of the dressing. Refrigerate.
  4. Wash the kale, remove the ribs, then slice the leaves into very thin pieces. Put the kale in a bowl and sprinkle it with about ½ tsp. of salt. Use your hands to squeeze and rub the kale with the salt for a minute or two. This process helps make the kale a little more tender.
  5. Toss the kale with as much dressing as you want plus a few grinds of fresh black pepper. Refrigerate until you're ready to eat.
  6. To make croutons, drizzle the bread cubes with some olive oil, spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet, then bake in a 350F oven until golden, about 10 minutes.
  7. Serve the kale salad sprinkled with croutons, as well as extra parmesan, if desired.
Adapted from In Pat's Kitchen via Food52.



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37 Responses to Kale salad with avocado caesar dressing

  1. I make a kale caesar for my cancer nutrition groups using a revved up buttermilk ranch recipe as the base – a with and without anchovies for the squeamish. And I also do a chipotle avocado dressing for a grain and veg salad, so I can see how your version would work brilliantly. I tend to massage the kale without benefit of oil or salt for my groups, and it seems to work just fine. But the salted massage *is* lovely. And I don’t care if kale has jumped the shark. I grow it, along with rainbow chard, and I couldn’t imagine my garden without it. Or my morning green smoothie!

  2. Pat says:

    Oh I just love the idea of my avocado Caesar dressing with kale! I’m making this soon! Thanks so much Emily!

  3. Alicia says:

    I bet this would be amazing with pumpkin seeds. Mmm.

    I get teased about my love of sundried tomatoes sometimes, like that makes me some kind of artifact of the 80s. I just smile and wait for them to come back in fashion.

  4. Avocado and cesar dressing sounds like a match made in heaven. I have never come across this combination before but I can imagine how the adding avocado could make such a massive difference to the finished product. Thanks so much for the great recipe – eat well,

    Sebastian Holmes

  5. branny says:

    I’ve never been one to care about trends (in food or clothes or…anything). You better believe I’ll be making this salad!

  6. Sarah says:

    Went to a Sankt Hans party at the Danish House (NY assisted living home in the mountains) and was served a deliciously cold avocado and bean salad. Yes, beans. It was small white beans, red kidneys, chopped avocado, chopped tomato, cilantro I think, and lemon juice. It was delicious. I’ve been dreaming of making my own version with more tomatoes and with some crunchy white onion.

    Avocado caesar dressing also sounds deeeelicious. I love avocado. You can also make a delicious chip dip by blending avocado, raw white onion, plain yogurt, salt, and a little lemon juice or vinegar. It’s divine with potato chips, even better with sweet potato kettle chips.

  7. Kristina says:

    Love this! Avocado dressings are the tastiest! Can’t wait to try 🙂

  8. The Kraken says:

    Made this last night. Mmmm… Yummy!

  9. Avocado Caesar Dressing sounds absolutely amazing – no matter what you serve it on!!

  10. […] recipe caught my eye a few weeks back on fiveandspice.com. If you recall, I am a bit obsessed with […]

  11. […] save myself some time inventing yet another version of the recipe, I gave this recipe by Emily from Five and Spice (a recipe she adapted from In Pat’s Kitchen via Food52) a shot, adding big pieces of shaved […]

  12. […] decide what to try first, Kaela’s Asian kaleslaw at local kitchen or Emily’s Kale salad with avocado caesar dressing at Five and […]

  13. branny says:

    this was delicious!!! my husband has a primal fear of kale and he loved it.

  14. […] Avocado Caesar Dressing (adapted from Food52 via Five and Spice) […]

  15. Sarah Linden says:

    Great recipe! And great blog. Beautiful, clean design that showcases your awesome photos. 🙂

  16. Mark says:

    Pumpkin seeds add a good crunch too 🙂

  17. Stephanie says:

    This salad was delicious! Even my picky cousins like it! I would want to sub the mayo for plain greek yogurt next time.

  18. Lacy says:

    Is there a general calorie count for the dressing?

  19. […] Apologies for the super late post. I’ve had my MacBook in repair for the past week– which means I didn’t have any of my pictures. Nevertheless, time for recipe number two! This is the salad I made for Conrad and myself for our pre-Polish club semi-formal dinner. A lot of ingredients go into making the dressing, but it’s pretty simple otherwise! We really enjoyed this dressing in comparison to the Bolthouse Farms Cilantro Avocado dressing (even though that one is healthier!). Again, this is a Pinterest-inspired recipe. […]

  20. Leigh says:

    Hi – thanks for this, am just about to try it out this evening! I found it looking for a good kale dressing recipe as just experimenting with raw kale salads and attempting to convince husband…

    But thought I’d comment as your first part of the post really made me laugh – I have an MSc in Food Policy and debated for years about going on to do a PhD and what I always considered doing it on was food fads – e.g., how food becomes fashionable and unfashionable and the resulting impact on the relevant supply chain. (For instance, where did all the goji berries come from a few years ago? Who was growing them? What will they do when we all roll our collective eyes at goji berries? Ditto agave syrup when we figure that one out – isn’t that a slow growing plant?). I love the concept and politics around food fads – and it’s not talked about enough!

    What is your PhD about?

  21. […] Kale salad with avocado caesar dressing […]

  22. Lyssa says:

    Love the simplicity of this dressing.. Yummy

  23. Cara says:

    I am going to immediately try out this recipe on the kale ceasars I’ve been making! Also, instead of croutons, I have been pan frying chickpeas with salt and red pepper flakes until they are a little charred. I think they are a wonderful replacement to croutons.

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