Kale and White Bean Salad with Caesar Dressing

by Gena on December 16, 2010

A few days ago, I blogged about raw, vegan Caesar salad dressing. Once upon a time, I thought that Caesar dressing would be impossible to veganize. Nowadays I know that nothing is impossible to veganize. Give me a recipe, and I’ll make it vegan, be it pizza, pudding, pastry, or pie.

Then again, my specialty as a cook isn’t really veganizing traditional fare. My specialty–or at least, my intention–is to make omnivores and regular eaters appreciate dishes that look, sound, or taste like “health food.” I love to take traditional Caesar and make it raw and vegan (even if I’ll inevitably add a few veggies as I go along), but it’s also fun to take Caesar dressing and slather it on that mainstay of raw foodism, kale salad. And while I’m at it, I might add a half cup of every vegan’s favorite staple, beans.

That’s more or less how this salad was born. I had plenty of my raw, vegan Caesar leftover from last week’s salad, and I also had a head of dinosaur kale. With little else in the fridge, I was worried that I wouldn’t have enough for an interesting dinner, but that’s when our pantries come to the rescue. I always have either dry or canned beans (BPA free!) in my pantry, and I try to keep sundried tomatoes (oil packed or dry) in there, too. As soon as I rummaged around and found some navy beans, along with the very last of a bag of dried sundried tomatoes, I knew that an otherwise simple salad could now serve as a full meal.

The inspiration for this salad is, I suppose, Tuscan kale and white bean soup, which is one of my favorite wintertime meals. But in spite of its heartiness, it’s refreshing in a way that hot soup can never be.  Come to think of it, it’s perfect “comfort food” for devoted raw food lovers, who’ll get sustenance and heft from the beans and dressing, but who’ll appreciate the overall lightness and digestibility of a mostly raw plate. Whatever your preferences, try this soon! Along with some bread (raw or cooked) or a bit of raw soup, it’s a perfect dinner, and it stands alone as a nourishing lunch.

Kale and White Bean Salad with Raw Caesar Dressing (serves 1 hungry person, or 2 people as an appetizer)

1 small or 1/2 medium head dinosaur (lacinato) kale, sliced into thin ribbons
6 sundried tomatoes, sliced into narrow strips (if using dried tomatoes, you may want to soak them in warm water for 15 minutes before using)
1/2 cup white beans
3 tbsp raw, vegan Caesar salad dressing

1) Pour dressing over the kale and “massage” it with your hands, until the kale has gotten a bit soft and wilted in texture.

2) Add tomatoes and beans, and give the salad another quick toss with your hands, so that everything is coated in dressing.

3) Serve!

This salad was a perfect reward for the exertion of decorating my little tree:

Every Christmas eve, my mother and I sit across from each other at her kitchen table, and she stares with suspicion at the heaping plate of curly greens that I’m about to devour. I may offer her some quintessential vegan “comfort food” this year, but no matter what, kale salad will be on the menu. If it tastes this good, I’m willing to bet even she will love it.

And I hope you will, too!


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{ 38 comments… read them below or add one }

Lindsay December 16, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Wow I am loving this salad! Tuscan kale is my absolute favorite along with white beans and who doesn’t love a yummy vegan caesar dressing?


Heather (Where's the Beach) December 16, 2010 at 12:42 pm

This looks so good. Thanks for sharing!


Amalfi Girl December 18, 2010 at 8:28 am

Yes, thank you, so much. I just posted about how you and your salad recipes have really changed my view of salad for life. So thank you!


JL Goes Vegan December 16, 2010 at 12:46 pm

I’m a huge kale fan and this salad looks great. I’ve been avoiding salads lately (brrrrrrrrrrr, baby, it’s cold outside) but I need to remember that salads are my friend (but maybe with a hot cup of tea or a small bowl of soup)


Christin@purplebirdblog December 16, 2010 at 12:49 pm

I have a can of white beans that I was intending to make into a bean dip, but I might have to switch up the plans!


leslie December 16, 2010 at 12:50 pm

i am all over this. yum! sometimes i think we share tastebuds.

i’ve been a bad commenter lately, but i thought i’d reiterate that, as you know, i am so, so excited for you and your big life changes.


Gena December 17, 2010 at 11:08 am

Thanks honey :)


Jacquelynn December 16, 2010 at 12:55 pm

I luvvvv Kale, and I am so excited to try this recipe/dressing! I’m always looking for new ways to incorporate raw greens (kale, chard, collards) into my diet. Thanks for this idea :)


Diana (Soap & Chocolate) December 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm

You have me very curious about your “seismic life changes!” I can certainly hypothesize on the various possibilities, but I will look forward to the big reveal whenever you’re ready. We clearly have some catching up to do! You must be totally under water this time of year though.

Anyhoo, I too am a fan of the kale/white bean combo! Interestingly, I am craving more and more fresh vegetables as it has gotten colder, as opposed to their root veg or frozen counterparts, which are usually fine with me. Also cannot get enough rice! The rice cooker changed my life. No complaints there. :) xo


caroline December 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm

just bought a bunch of fresh kale yesterday….now I know what’s for lunch!!! Thank you!!!


Gena December 17, 2010 at 11:09 am

Hope it was good!


Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 16, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I love your little tree…and it doesnt even look that “little”!

I also love that you posted raw, green, vegan food…at a time when everyone is posting chocolate cookies and decadent baked goods (and I am totally guilty of the later..haha!)

I eat edamame or beans of some sort every day, on top of a big huge green salad. With homemade dressing. It is a staple in my life and although people may get bored with it so I dont blog about it much, I LOVE them. And I love that you post your salads. That makes me happy :)


Ashlei December 16, 2010 at 1:07 pm

Looks great Gena! I’m a huge fan of kale salads and raw caesar dressings, both. :-)


Dole Nutrition Institute December 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Looks delicious, Gena! We LOVE seeing kale as the base of a salad. And the vegan dressing looks so intriguing.


Gena December 17, 2010 at 11:10 am

Thanks Jenna & co.! I plan on posting a salad soon that copies one I saw at the Dole Summit. Very excited.


Elle December 16, 2010 at 1:19 pm

Gorgeous tree. I’ve got to make this. I ordered the Sea Caesar at Angelica for about two years straight!


Sarah S. December 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Love your salad, love your tree!


VeggieGirl December 16, 2010 at 1:37 pm

BEAUTIFUL salad and Christmas tree :)


Angela December 16, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I heart navy beans… a lot.
Looks delicious!


Erika @ Health and Happiness in LA December 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm

I love Tuscan kale and white bean soup, so this salad version looks great! I can’t wait to try your Caesar dressing. Caesar salad was always a fave of mine as a kid and I do kinda miss it.

I can’t wait to hear what your life changes are. So mysterious!


Namaste Gurl December 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Salad combo looks amazing, Gena! You got me seriously hungry considering your yummy “dense” salad contains all my favorites…. beans, sun- dried tomatoes, vegan caesar and kale! I just did a post recently on the amazingness of roasting veggies with sun- dried tomatoes. Really adds a flavor kick to dishes :-)


Caleb December 16, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Yum. Sounds great as always. Be lucky your mom will eat your salads. My folks don’t seem to want to try anything I make raw, not even tasty sweet deserts. At least dad doesn’t – mom is more willing but still reluctant.


Amalfi Girl (EatRunHaveFun.blogspot) December 16, 2010 at 3:30 pm

What about a 1/2 soup/salad combo with both tuscan kale and white bean soup and kale ceasar salad? I just had a vision of a very tasty dinner… Thanks for the recipe! :)


bitt December 16, 2010 at 4:45 pm

So cute you have a tree even in a tiny apartment.

The kale salad seems very festive. I like beans in my salad too.


kristinefitness December 16, 2010 at 5:52 pm

Never heard of dinosaur kale… interesting!

Cute tree :)


Christine (The Raw Project) December 16, 2010 at 6:06 pm

This looks wonderful, I like the idea of pairing beans with the salad and need to try the dressing. Thanks!


Lauren December 16, 2010 at 6:46 pm

Okay.. I have to make this.. now!!! All of my fav. things, kale, sun dried tomatoes and white beans! Great job, G!


falalaraw December 16, 2010 at 6:51 pm

LOVE THIS POST! sure enough as im reading this i have my beans cooking… ironic? i think vegan appetite not.
KALE QUESTION… if i was to massage kale with lemon and avocado and put in fridge how long would it last?


Gena December 17, 2010 at 11:10 am

You’d have to judge by texture, taste, and smell. It varies.


Natasha Zeligs December 16, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Lovely recipe. I love the vegan Caesar dressing.


Katie December 17, 2010 at 12:06 am

Oh, I definitely get the weird looks at Christmas dinner. Its gotten better in the last couple years though. At least some of the family is willing to try things. Usually only one TEENY bite, but its a step in the right direction. Maybe I can trick them with this dressing! Muaahahaaha


Casey December 17, 2010 at 2:35 am

Looks sooo good…I imagine the dark greens with that creamy sauce is just divine.

Thanks for sharing another winner Gena!


carrie December 17, 2010 at 4:27 pm

Thank you as always for such simplicity combined with amazing flavor (texture, nutritional balance…). You give us “gifts” everyday!


ainslie December 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm

YUM. vegan caesar, in all it’s forms, is my all-time fave salad, especially on kale instead of romaine! I love the heft of the kale. definitely going to try adding white beans to my next veg kale caesar, looks like the perfect compliment.


Healing Cuisine by Elise December 17, 2010 at 6:00 pm

Wow, we make something very similar and call it Christmas Salad. mmmm, thanks for remind me! Can’t wait for Christmas to come! :)


Jenn December 29, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Wow Gena!

I’ve been reading your blog for awhile now, and never posted. Nor have I ever made one of your recipes also I always intend to. I finally did! I made this one and I am so glad I did. The dressing is to die for. I left out the celery cause I don’t like it, but otherwise, this is sooo yum and it will be going into my rotation.


And congratulations on your seismic life change! I think you will do fantastic.


Ricki February 1, 2012 at 10:29 pm

Gena, NOW I see what you meant on twitter!! Oh, my, this looks amazing. And yes, I am going to try it! I’ve used curly kale with my Caesar dressing, but this looks spectacular. I’m sure I’d love the beans, too! Thanks for the link. :D


angel August 26, 2012 at 8:34 am

Hi .. anything for collard greens? thanks


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