This Kale Caesar Salad Is So Good, I Ate It Every Day For A Week

“We’ve paid way too much money on worse Caesar salads at restaurants.”

Chopped Kale Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Rishon Hanners; Prop Styling: Audrey Davis

After years spent working from home, my transition to part-time office life has meant several changes in my "new normal" schedule. First, I of course can't don my workout leggings and favorite baseball cap every day. With the necessity of "real clothes" also comes the accompaniment of some makeup, which I forego on work-from-home days. I know my co-workers are thankful to sit next to me with washed hair, an outfit free of dri-fit material, and as my mom says, "a little color" on my cheeks in the office.

But one of my adjustments took me a by surprise, and that is the quandary of how to approach lunch. Eating out every day at work is not manageable, and I want to be able to enjoy my midday meal without that concern. Enter the kale salad that changed my lunch life.

Tuscan kale is also known as lacinato, dinosaur kale or nero di Toscana
Tuscan Kale's puckered leaves give them a wonderful chewy texture, when cooked. Photo: © Marie Iannotti

Meal Prep For Work

I now have a daily commute that's longer than the few steps to the kitchen table, and I get the pleasure of having productive in-person meetings. Wardrobe changes and friendly encounters aside, one of the biggest adjustments to being back in the office is practicing meal prepping again.

During my first week back, "meal prep" meant turkey sandwiches and apple slices. Delicious, sure, but a little reminiscent of my elementary school lunch boxes. I knew I needed to get on top of this meal prep thing with lunches that would fill me up with healthy protein and include nutritious veggies to keep me fueled through afternoons. Several boring quinoa-and-insert-vegetable-name-here bowls later, and something new was necessary.

That's when I found this Chopped Kale Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs. Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner, folks.

Approachable Ingredients

Aside from the kale and a fresh lemon, I already had everything at home to make this salad, which was its first positive accolade. Since I'm known to reluctantly prepare my meals for the week on lazy Sundays, the 15 minutes of hands-on time didn't hurt either. One last thing in the description for this chopped salad that convinced me to try it: It claimed to have all the taste of a classic Caesar salad, sans anchovies.

a photo of a bunch of red kale, or red russian kale, a common kale variety known for its red-hued stems

I don't mind buying Caesar dressing at the store or ordering Caesar salad at a restaurant if the dressing includes anchovies. I understand they contribute to the timeless salad flavor we all know and love. But it's one of those "out of sight, out of mind" things for me. I love all seafood, but I can't bring myself to purchase anchovies or anchovy paste at the store and work with them in my kitchen.

A Fish-free Caesar

If I've ever been in search of homemade alternatives to fatty bottled salad dressings from the store, Caesar has never been on my list because of those little fish. This homemade, anchovy-less take on Caesar dressing uses Worcestershire sauce for that umami flavor instead, and it contains less fat since it uses half the mayo and subs Greek yogurt. The chopped kale, grated eggs, and toasted breadcrumbs toss together beautifully with the dressing so every single bite has flavor and texture, instead of a rogue crunchy crouton amongst soggy lettuce.

anchovies recipes anchovy sardines receipts seafood fish food cooking
Anchovies for Recipes. © 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to, Inc.

This salad recipe promised to give me protein from hard-boiled eggs, good-for-me vitamins from hearty kale, a little crunch from breadcrumbs without as many carbs as croutons, and a homemade Caesar dressing that didn't require anchovies. I was now ready for my calling as a meal prep influencer.

Easy Salad Execution

Though it requires a few steps beforehand like hard-boiling eggs and toasting breadcrumbs, this recipe isn't any more difficult than tossing together a bag 'o salad, and it's so much more delicious. Even my husband, who isn't a kale enthusiast by any means, was wowed by how much he enjoyed this Chopped Kale Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs.

"We've paid way too much money on worse Caesar salads at restaurants," he said with a surprised (and partially disappointed at our lost revenue to lesser salads) look on his face.

Throughout the week, we whisked this salad up again and again, several times topping it with chicken or salmon for even more protein. It's safe to say this kale salad will be a regular at my office now. The jury is still out on if the full face of makeup will be as well.

Recipe: Chopped Kale Salad with Toasted Breadcrumbs

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