I know that kale is overdone, over used and so last year, at least that's what all the super cool, super hip kids are saying these days. But how am I supposed to move on when I'm still so in love? I've always trailed a step behind the newest trends (and don't even get me started about the latest fashions) so I think it's only fitting that I keep kale in my repertoire a little longer than most.
And really, if something is this good (and good for me!), then I'm keeping it around even if it has fallen out of fashion.
I had my first kale caesar salad about a year ago and instantly realized that there is no other way to eat a caesar salad. Seriously, once you go kale caesar you never go back. (Man that was bad. I'm a little embarrassed for myself right now.)
Five reasons why you'll never want to make your caesar salad without kale:
- The curly leaves trap lots of the delicious dressing
- Because kale is a sturdy green it is actually better when the dressing sits on it for a few minutes. Read: it is great to make ahead for a party and won't go soggy
- The crunchy/chewy kale and the creamy dressing were made for each other
- The mild bitterness of the kale (which I love!) adds a whole other dimension to a caesar salad
- The bacon seems to snuggle its way into the leaves rather than falling to the bottom of the bowl
A word of warning about this recipe:
If you are squeamish about raw eggs I'm sorry to say that you're destined for a life void of caesar salads. Same goes for anchovies.
This dressing (like all real caesar salad dressings that don't come pre made in a jar) is made by emulsifying egg yolks and oil. It's the same basic technique that you use to make aioli.
To make sure that the dressing thickens properly, you MUST follow these steps:
- Only use room temperature eggs. If you use cold eggs the dressing will not thicken. You have been warned.
- Whisk in the lemon juice and dijon mustard first. These help to break down the egg yolk so it can emulsify easily.
- SLOWLY add the oil while whisking quickly, especially at first. Once you see the dressing start to thicken you can start to pour the oil in a little faster.
A note about umeboshi vinegar:
I've been using this in my caesar salad dressings since my handsome man's mom told me that it makes a great vegetarian alternative to anchovies. I prefer the taste with both anchovies and umeboshi vinegar but you can leave the anchovies out if you want a vegetarian dressing.
Umeboshi vinegar is very salty and has a rich umami flavour. I never make a caesar salad dressing without it.
You can find umeboshi vinegar at most well stocked grocery stores, Asian markets and some healthy food stores. Sometimes it's labelled as ume plum vinegar.
If you make this Bacon Kale Caesar Salad, make sure to snap a pic and tag @theendlessmeal on Instagram so I can like and comment on your photos. I love seeing TEM recipes you create.
- 4 slices white bread, cut into cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, very finely minced
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- ⅛ teaspoon chili flakes
- ½ lb. bacon, cut into 1 inch strips.
- 2 egg yolks, at room temperature
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (do NOT use bottled lemon juice)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar
- 2 anchovies, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat, melted
- 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
- 2 large garlic cloves, very finely minced
- ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Sea salt, to taste
- 6 stalks of curly kale, washed, stem removed and torn into bite sized pieces
- Optional: 1 cup red grapes, cut in half
- Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
- Place the bread cubes in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, garlic, oregano and chili flakes. Pour the bread cubes onto a rimmed baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 15 minutes, or until they are crunchy. You want them to dry out, not toast. If they haven't dried out after 15 minutes leave them in the oven a little longer.
- Slice the bacon into 1 inch strips (I always have some bacon in the freezer and find it very easy to slice from frozen) Place the bacon in a frying pan over medium high heat and cook, stirring often for 7-8 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan using a slotted spoon and reserve 1 tablespoon of the fat.
- Place the room temperature egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice and whisk them together. SLOWLY drizzle in the vegetable oil while whisking constantly. Once the dressing starts to thicken you can pour the oil in a little faster.
- Once all the oil has been incorporated whisk in the remaining ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice, the umeboshi vinegar, anchovies, reserved bacon fat, fresh cracked pepper, garlic and parmesan cheese. Season to taste with sea salt.
- Place the washed kale in a large bowl. Add the crispy bacon, and optional grapes. Pour the dressing overtop and toss so that everything is coated well. Let the dressing sit on the kale for at least 5 minutes before you serve it. Toss the croutons through the salad immediately before you serve it.
Some more kale recipes for you: