I’m back! After the craziness of our recent move (we bought a house … ah!) and a family vacation, it feels good to finally have my computer set up at my desk in the new house and to be working on this blog again. I have been wanting to tell you guys about this recipe for SO LONG. It’s from the new book, Love Real Food, by Kathryne Taylor of the blog Cookie and Kate. I did some recipe testing for the book and I’ve been stoked about its release ever since. The recipes I tested for Kate became instant hits in our household and now that I have the complete book in my hands, I know it’s going to become a staple in my kitchen.
For example, one of my favorite recipes I tested for the book was the make-your-own instant oatmeal mix. It’s been difficult for me to find an instant oatmeal I truly love, so I appreciate the customization options of Kate’s recipe. I know exactly what’s going into it, I can pick whichever dried fruit I want as well as whatever nuts I want, etc. I like to go with dried blueberries and pecans and then I add extra raisins to my bowl when I cook it. I whipped up a batch of this stuff countless times after testing it, and it was great to have in our pantry as a quick breakfast or lunch option.
The other recipe I couldn’t stop making was this tahini kale caesar. I became OBSESSED. I love that the dressing comes together simply with a bowl and a whisk (or fork), and it’s made with common pantry ingredients I always have on hand. It’s a slightly unusual caesar, but it totally hits the spot for me. I made this soooo many times to pack as a lunch salad. Once you make the dressing it thickens up in the fridge, which is perfect for lunch-packing. That means when I pack my salad I can just throw a glob of dressing right in with my greens, but it won’t coat everything and make it soggy. Then the next day at lunch I just stir it all around before eating. (I store the croutons separately and add those right before eating.) I also included chickpeas for added protein so it’s more of a meal. This recipe feels like the fanciest lunch salad, and it actually makes me excited to eat a salad for lunch. (Seriously though – how often are you like, “I can’t WAIT to eat that SALAD for lunch today!” Right?)
Aside from adding the chickpeas to Kate’s salad, I also swapped in cornbread for the croutons. That’s an idea I borrowed from my other favorite caesar salad, the one from Bowl and Spoon by Sara and Hugh Forte of Sprouted Kitchen. (I also love the dressing in that one, but Kate’s is easier.) So what you have here is kind of a hybrid of my two favorite caesars. I love the sweetness the cornbread adds to the salad, and it makes it feel a little more special. Kate’s recipe calls for whole grain croutons, which are also delicious. I used those most of the times I made this. I STRONGLY suggest that you make homemade croutons. It’s a good hands-off project to throw in the oven while you’re cleaning up the kitchen from dinner or something, and they just taste so much better. I love when they’re crispy on the outside but still a little chewy on the inside. If you go the cornbread route, they get very crumbly and become essentially half croutons / half breadcrumbs. Those breadcrumbs are so delicious in the salad and give it an amazing texture, so don’t be afraid of those crumbs as you’re making the croutons.
I’ve loved Kate’s blog for years, so I’m super freaking excited to have it in book form. She has a knack for making vegetarian meals that are satisfying and exciting, all while using relatively familiar ingredients that aren’t too difficult to find. Her sweets are made a little more wholesome with natural sweeteners and whole grain flours, but you’ll find plenty of chocolate and peanut butter, plus cocktails and epic burrito bowls and fluffy pancakes and waffles. You can’t go wrong with this book. If you’re just getting into a vegetarian diet or you’re an omnivore looking for more plant-forward and whole-foods-based meals, this is your book. It reminds me of the Love and Lemons Cookbook, which has a similar focus and has provided us with so many weeknight dinners. I expect this one to deliver in the same way.
Congrats on an amazing book, Kate! I can’t wait to cook my way through this one over the years.
Illustration at top created with pen and Photoshop.
Prints of my illustration (plus other products with my work on them) are available in my Society6 shop.
- one 8x8 pan of cornbread or 3 large cornbread muffins, cut into ½-inch cubes (whole-grain or sourdough bread are other great options)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- fine sea salt
- ¼ cup tahini
- 3 tbsp lemon juice (from 1 to 1½ lemons)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- ⅛-1/4 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tbsp water
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium bunch (about 8 oz) Tuscan (lacinato) or curly kale, tough ribs removed and leaves chopped into bite-sized pieces
- fine sea salt
- 5 oz romaine (about ½ small-medium head), chopped into bite-sized pieces
- one 15-oz can garbanzo beans, rinsed thoroughly
- ⅓ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about ⅔ oz)
- Heat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the cubed bread on a large-rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss until the cubes are lightly and evenly coated in oil. (If you're using cornbread you will have a lot of crumbs. That's fine - they will be delicious.) Spread them out on the pan on a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt.
- Bake until golden brown and crisp, about 12-16 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, mustard and salt. Whisk until well blended, and then add the water until you have a smooth, blended tahini sauce. Season generously with about ten twists of ground black pepper. The dressing should be tangy, like a classic Caesar dressing. Add more water, lemon juice, salt, etc. to taste.
- Transfer the chopped kale to a large 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, garbanzo beans and Parmesan cheese to the bowl.
- Wait to dress the salad until you're ready to serve since the romaine and croutons will get soggy if they're in contact with the dressing for too long. (I like to pack this salad for lunch a lot. I combine the kale, romaine, beans and cheese in a container and add a scoop of the dressing. When it's cold the dressing is pretty thick, so it will stay as a big clump until I eat my lunch and mix it all around in there. It doesn't affect much of the salad, which is great. I store my croutons in a separate container and add them right before eating.)
- When you're ready to eat, drizzle enough dressing over the greens to lightly coat. Toss until the dressing is evenly distributed. Add the croutons and toss again. Serve immediately.