Tahini Kale Caesar Salad with Whole-Grain Croutons | Naturally Ella

Of all the cookbooks I’m sharing this summer, Love Real Food is one of the books I am most excited about. I’ve known Kathryne (aka Cookie + Kate) for years- she was one of the first bloggers I connected with, primarily because our styles of cooking were similar. It’s been exciting to watch her grow her site and now I’m beyond excited to hold a collection of her recipes in my hands. Love Real Food is a beautiful compilation of recipes that showcases Kathryne’s approachable plant-based cooking.

I decided to share her kale Caesar salad. Caesar dressing is one of those sneaky items that you might think is vegetarian but thanks to anchovies, it’s not. Kathryne whipped up a smooth and tangy tahini dressing that is the perfect vegetarian adaption. Add to that her trick for the perfect kale salad (salt massage!)) and you have one delicious kale caesar salad.


Tahini Kale Caesar Salad with Whole-Grain Croutons

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 side salads


A lovely vegetarian salad that features a tahini caesar dressing that tastes amazingly close to the traditional Caesar dressing. From the book, Love Real Food by Kathryne Taylor.  



  • 6 ounces crusty whole-grain bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt

Tahini Caesar Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 to 1 1/2 lemons)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 1 medium bunch (about 8 ounces) Tuscan (lacinato) Kale, touch ribs removed and leaves chopped into bite-size pieces
  • Fine sea salt
  • 5 ounces romaine (about 1/2 small-medium head), chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2/3 ounce)


  • To make the croutons: Preheat oven to 400˚F.
  • Place the cubed bread on a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Toss until the cubes are lightly and evenly coated in oil, then arrange them in a single layer. Sprinkle the cubes with several dashed of salt. Bake until golden brown and crisp, 7 to 9 minutes, stirring halfway through.
  • To make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, mustard, and salt. Whisk until blended, then add the water and whisk until you have a smooth, blended tahini sauce. Season generously with black pepper (about 10 twists). The dressing should be tangy, like classic Caesar dressings. If it’s overwhelmingly tart or too thick to pour, whisk in an additional tablespoon of water.
  • To prepare the salad: Transfer the chopped kale to a big salad bowl. Add a dash of salt and massage the leaves with your hands by scrunching big handfuls at a time, until the leaves are darker in color and the volume has reduced by about one-third.
  • Add the chopped romaine to the bowl. Wait to dress the salad until you are ready to serve, since the romaine and croutons get soggy if they’re in contact with the dressing too long. (If you plan to have leftovers, store individual components separately, and toss them together just before serving.
  • When you’re ready, drizzle enough dressing over the greens to lightly coat (you might not need all of it). Toss until the dressing is evenly distributed. Add the croutons and Parmesan and toss again. Serve immediately.


Tips & Tricks: If you’re looking to keep this vegan, Kathryne says to use 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast instead of the Parmesan. 

You could make this sauce ahead of time and assemble when ready to eat. 

Stock up: get the pantry ingredients you will need: INGREDIENT, INGREDIENT, INGREDIENT

Link: This recipe is reprinted with permission from Rodale Publishing. Recipe can be found on page 72 of Love Real Food from Kathryne Taylor of Cookie + Kate.

Kale Caesar Salad


I don’t like to vary too much from recipes I share from others but this salad lends itself well to a feel meal ideas. We eat a lot of salads-as-mains during the summer and I’m obsessed with this dressing now. This means this salad is on our weekly rotation!

Roasted Chickpeas: I like to make this salad a main by adding crispy chickpeas.

Bread: Kathryne uses multigrain bread but I also loved this salad with rye.

Wraps: I made M a couple lunch wraps using this recipe. I left off the croutons and add the salad in a wrap with mashed chickpeas.

Tahini Kale Caesar Salad with Whole-Grain Croutons from Love Real Food