Kale Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons

I’m back from birthday festivities! I’m a lucky girl to have such good people in my life. The birthday fun continues in a few weeks, but more on that another day…

For now, let’s talk Kale. I do love some kale.
Well, we’re back at the Kale party with a twist on a classic Caesar salad.
– Instead of romaine, we’re using kale.
– Instead of a heavy mayonnaise or egg based dressing, we’re using non-fat yogurt.
– Instead of boring bread croutons, we’re using homemade polenta croutons.

So yeah, this is nothing like a traditional Caesar, but you’re gonna love it.
What you’ll need: Polenta Croutons, S+P, Dijon mustard, Worcestershire Sauce, Garlic Powder, Lemon, NF Greek yogurt, Parmesan cheese and Kale, of course.

First we make our own Polenta croutons. New to polenta?
Polenta is an Italian corn meal, usually served as a side dish. You can purchase it dry, mix with water and cook like a cous cous or grits for a side dish. Or you can buy the pre-cooked Polenta in a tube, which I prefer for appetizers and croutons.  I like the Trader Joe’s brand, its low-calorie (70 calories per serving), and gluten-free. Fun!

To make the croutons, line a cookie sheet with tin foil and lightly spritz with olive oil.
Slice the round edges off the Polenta to make a Polenta rectangle (save the rounded bits to throw into soup). Slice the polenta into thick slices, then again into fourths to make the croutons. Toss with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Spread the croutons single layer on the cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. You should have these plump little golden bites of love. 
IMG_6339So good. Set these aside (after taste-testing a few for quality control).

Next we’re going to whip up our Caesar dressing. Although traditional Caesar dressing can be a beautiful thing with egg, fresh garlic and anchovy, this is a little less intimidating, and has none of that “foodborne illness” scariness that can come with raw egg. We try to shy away from that on this website. You’re welcome. The Worcestershire and Dijon give this its classic Caesar flavor, and the yogurt works beautifully as a mayo/egg substitute.

Simply mix a few tablespoons of yogurt, garlic powder, a dollop of Dijon mustard and a few shakes of Worcestershire into a bowl. Add TONS of black pepper and a pinch of sea salt. Whisk it like all get-out. Then zest in a whole lemon.
kalecaesarTaste here, you may want a little more Worcestershire, which provides that salty undertone, without the anchovy-ness (or mince an anchovy fillet and add it! up to you!) kalecaesarWe’re ready to mix!

Dump one bunch of clean, chopped kale into a large bowl. Add the dressing. kalecaesarMassage the dressing thoroughly with your hands until each leaf is covered.

Now its time to assemble! Simple add the dressed kale to a bowl, sprinkle the polenta croutons over the top, along with shaved Parmesan cheese and a bit more black pepper. kalecaesarThat’s it! A Gluten-free, Egg-Free Kale Caesar salad.  And its pretty delicious too.
Here’s the recipe!

Kale Caesar Salad with Polenta Croutons
(Gluten-free and Egg-free) 

1 bunch curly kale, washed, stems removed, chopped roughly
(or half-bag of the pre-cut kale)
Polenta croutons (recipe below)
Caesar Dressing (recipe below)
1/4 c. shaved Parmesan cheese
Sea Salt
Cracked Pepper

In a large bowl, combine kale with Caesar dressing. Massage thoroughly until each leaf is coated with dressing. Sprinkle Polenta croutons and Parmesan cheese over the top. Dress with additional Sea Salt and Black Pepper. Serves 2. Recipe can easily be doubled. 

Polenta Croutons
1 tube polenta (can be found in the dry or refrigerated pasta section)
olive oil
Salt, Pepper
Garlic powder
For two servings, you only need 1/2 tube of Polenta, but I recommend making the entire tube into croutons, they’re great in soup or other dinner salads.

Pre-heat oven to 350. Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Spritz with olive oil. Slice off rounded edges of Polenta until you have a rectangular block. You can bake the scraps for less-uniform croutons or throw them into a soup later. Stand the polenta on one end. Using a steady hand, slice through the polenta vertically and horizontally to make fourths. Turn on its side and slice into croutons. In a large bowl, toss croutons with sea salt, black pepper and just a dash of garlic powder. Lay in a single layer on the cookie sheet. Spritz with additional olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the polenta is puffy and golden. Serves 2-4 depending on how many croutons made. 

Caesar dressing
2oz non-fat yogurt
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic powder
zest of one lemon
Cracked Black Pepper
Sea Salt

In a small bowl, whisk together first four ingredients until smooth. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir in lemon zest. Taste here, add more Worcestershire or Dijon mustard as needed. Sprinkle in more black pepper if desired. Serves 2.
Yeah, we made this. Go us. 


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