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Kale Caesar Pasta Salad

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5 from 1 review

You'll be the envy of the backyard barbecue or potluck with this easy 20-minute, veggie-loaded kale Caesar pasta salad. Take a break from the classic macaroni salad and opt for something a little lighter that's filled with fresh vegetables!

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 8 oz. pasta, cooked according to package directions until al dente
  • 4-5 cups chopped fresh kale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil + more for drizzling pasta
  • juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup sliced cucumbers
  • 3.5 jar capers, drained
  • 5 oz. shaved Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Caesar dressing
  • 2 cups homemade herb and garlic croutons
  • Kosher salt
  • fresh cracked pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente. Toss it in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Let pasta cool to room temperature.
  2. Add kale to a large serving bowl.
  3. Drizzle it with oil and lemon juice and season with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Massage kale for a few minutes until it wilts and turns bright green.
  4. Add cooled pasta, chickpeas, cucumbers, capers, and Parmesan cheese (reserve some Parmesan for garnish if you like) to the bowl.
  5. Drizzle with Caesar dressing. Toss to coat evenly.
  6. If you're serving the salad right away, fold in the crispy croutons. If you're serving later, add the croutons just before serving along with another drizzle of dressing.
  7. Toss to coat, garnish with Parmesan cheese, and fresh cracked pepper, and enjoy!

Equipment

Notes

  • Season your pasta water moderately. Add 2-4 tablespoons of Kosher salt to your large pot of boiling water just before adding the pasta. This is your first chance to season the pasta and will make the overall flavor of your pasta salad much better. Don't worry about the extra sodium -  most of the water and salt will end up going down the drain when you strain the pasta anyway. 
  • Cook the noodles just until al dente. They will soak up the dressing as the salad sits, so the best way to ensure that you don't end up with a soggy pasta salad is to cook the noodles al dente, or until they still have a toothsome bite.
  • After you cook and strain your noodles, toss them in olive oil and season them with salt and pepper. This will keep them from sticking together and give them a little boost of flavor. Don't rinse your pasta! This removes all that the starchy goodness and makes it harder for the dressing to stick.
  • Massaging the kale is key! The lemon juice and olive oil will work in combination to wilt the greens and make them tasty, bright and full of flavor. If you don't think you like kale, I encourage you to massage it! It takes away the bitterness and gives it a very palatable texture. Also, don't worry if it seems like a lot of kale when you first start. It will reduce in size as it wilts.
  • If you won't be enjoying this salad right away, save the croutons for later! Although my homemade croutons do not get as soggy as store bought, they will eventually get soft when left sitting in dressing. If you'll be eating this salad later, simply wait to add the croutons until just before serving. That will keep them perfectly crisp and crunchy!

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