If you’re just craving a healthy, jam-packed salad for lunch or dinner then this Chicken Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons is just the thing that you need and it's entirely dairy-free! Simply add a splash of color, flavor, and nutrients with a variety of ingredients like kale, roasted chickpeas, cornbread croutons, vegan parmesan, and an easy dairy-free dressing. Vegan, Gluten-Free, + Make ahead options.
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Seriously, when it comes to salads, I've always been apprehensive about creating recipes because there are just SO many options in this department on the internet. Haha. However, after I started experimenting with ingredients and different flavor combos, I realized that I could still bring some uniqueness to salads and hence, this Chicken Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons was born! I remember getting caesar salads from places like AppleBee's and Just Salad as my main options because I absolutely LOVE the simplicity, yet umami, bold flavors of this kind of salad. Plus, this Cheesy Kale Garlic Bread makes for a great side!
That's why I had to make this one at home once I reduced my eating out to a minimum and of course, switching things up a bit is always a must for me. The Southern part of me had to make sweeter, satisfying croutons than the standard, but if you're looking to keep things traditional in that way, then my Homemade Croutons are just the thing you need! But trust me----making your croutons out of cornbread is a life changer! Lastly, I had to use kale as my base because I seriously enjoy it more than regular lettuce and keeping this entire salad dairy-free allowed me to enjoy it in it's fullness. It's a win, win.
Be sure to see this beauty (and other recipes) come to life via IG Reels for a nice visual!
Overall, this chicken caesar salad is definitely comfort food in a healthy form, includes simple steps, and can totally be personalized based on preference----i.e. sub with your favorite side dish or eat without meat by subbing things like mushrooms, tofu, cauliflower, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, etc. instead of the chicken.
OK, so incase you aren't familiar with chicken caesar salads, here's the real deal on what it is. Usually, this type of salad uses Romaine lettuce, Chicken, French bread, Parmesan, and a tangy, bold dressing made using Worcestershire sauce.
The awesome thing about this chicken caesar salad recipe is that most of the ingredients are household staples. Plus, it's easy to mix and match ingredients with whatever you have on hand, so there's no need to make an extra trip to the store. Instead, embrace the laid-back nature of this healthy meal and substitute whatever you don't like.
Here's what I like to toss into my chicken caesar salad:
When it comes to massaging kale, it's usually recommended because kale is known for being tough and fibrous, which makes it sometimes hard to chew and digest. However, massaging the kale softens it a great deal and helps the flavors to be more pronounced which works hand in hand with the other ingredients.
My easy method to massage kale is to add the de-stemmed and chopped kale to a large bowl and then drizzling it with 1-2 tsps of lemon juice or Extra virgin olive oil and using your clean hands, rubbing the leaves together gently for about 2-3 minutes. They should look glossy and slightly reduced in volume when massaging is achieved.
Although, kale is the most common veggie that I love to use as my salad base, you can definitely use other greens such as romaine lettuce, spinach, collard greens, bokchoy, etc. for a nice twist! When it comes to vegetables, there are so many benefits as we all know. While some veggies pack a greater punch when it comes to nutrients, we’ve curated a special list of our Our Top 12 Favorite Healthy Green Leafy Vegetables! Most of these are super popular while others are under utilized in many dishes. Lettuce Eat, Shall We?
Here, I’ve curated a list of cooking + baking essentials that I use to achieve my favorite baked goods or cooked meals, especially with this Chicken Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons. Everything from my fave baking sheet, dutch ovens, immersion hand-blender, mixing bowls, and more. SEE THEM HERE!
In case you're thinking of making this chicken caesar salad and would love to add a bit of a crunch or extra texture, then I recommend adding roasted chickpeas. It's super easy to do and only requires one (15 oz.) can of chickpeas, a bit of olive oil, and herbs + seasonings and you let the oven work it's magic. Check out my recipe here for easy steps!
If you want to take this already delicious caesar salad to the next level, have fun tossing in your favorite salad toppers. I especially love the following ingredients with the kale and tangy caesar dressing in this recipe:
To top your delicious veggie salad and add a bit of heat, make a dairy-free/vegan caesar dressing with:
While this Chicken Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons is perfect as is---I definitely wanted to give options for those of you who don't eat meat or just might make this salad more than once and want to switch things up with a meatless option from time to time! Here are a few great ingredients that you can substitute with the chicken in this delicious salad.
Other ingredient ideas include:
For the best Homemade Cornbread Croutons, it’s all about the simple ingredients!
Here’s what you need for the croutons:
So, if you didn't have any leftover cornbread and end up using freshly baked cornbread, no worries at all! To ensure that they're prepped for their transition into a crouton, simply let your cornbread cool completely before slicing it into 1" chunks. Once done, do the following:
If you're thinking about making your own Italian seasoning blend, then look no further! All you need is handful of herbs + spices, mix them together, and wallah! You'll need 2 teaspoons of each simple ingredient:
You can keep leftover seasoning in a small tightly sealed jar and at room temperature for up to 6 months like your other herbs + spices.
You can enjoy this Chicken Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons on its own as a nice lunch or dinner. Or, if you'd like to add additional protein to round out your meal, add crispy tofu or nuts to keep things plant-based. If you're not vegetarian or vegan, you can add seared salmon or another meat.
If you're offering this salad as a side dish, I personally love it paired with a hearty and warming entree like Roasted Carrot Soup + Cheesy Croutons, Creamy Roasted Garlic Tomato Soup or Easy Roasted Butternut Squash Soup. For a hearty bite, I enjoy this salad with the following meals also: Hubby’s Date Night Vodka Ravioli [without the Vodka], Southern Hot Honey Fried Chicken, Creamy Jamaican Rasta Pasta, Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings/Bites, Spicy Brown Butter Pumpkin Rigatoni, or Baked Sticky Orange Cauliflower + Quinoa.
Absolutely! The baked chicken can be made up to 2 days beforehand and stored in an airtight container and refrigerated. While the chickpeas can be roasted and stored in the fridge for up to 2 days and reheated. Also, the cornbread can be made up to 2 days prior and cut into cubes, which helps to make the process of making the croutons much easier. The dressing can be made and refrigerated in a separate airtight container. The salad can be chopped up to 30 minutes before serving.
Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days, depending on the ingredients. Always determine the ingredients in your salad and keep it no longer than the shelf life of your fastest-spoiling ingredient.
Of course! To make this salad GF-friendly, just ensure that the cornbread is GF-friendly as well as any ingredients in the dressing that may be needed.
VEGAN OPTION: See post above for 'Meatless options' for the topping of this salad instead of chicken.
If you make this Chicken Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons, I’d love to see your creations! Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea
Tag @orchidsnsweettea_ on Instagram and hashtag it #orchidsandsweettea
Chicken Caesar Salad with Cornbread Croutons.
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