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Italian Kale Salad with Chickpeas and Lemon

4.88 from 16 votes

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Super-healthy and totally delicious kale salad recipe that has smoky roasted chickpeas, Parmesan cheese and a zesty lemon vinaigrette.

Photo of a plate topped with chopped kale salad and roasted chickpeas, with a fork digging into the salad.

This is a nutritious and DELICIOUS kale salad, tossed with dark green kale leaves, roasted chickpeas and a fresh lemon vinaigrette. It could become your favorite way to enjoy raw kale in a salad!

It’s become a favorite dinner-guest salad. Everyone always raves about it, plus it holds up well for hours after you toss it with the vinaigrette.

I love it when a basic kale salad recipe turns out tasting like an incredibly healthy Caesar salad. This one has all that going on, just without anchovy and a crunchy topping of chickpeas instead of croutons.

I even included a version of a kale Caesar salad in my cookbook because it’s one of the best salads!

How to make a salad with kale

Close up photo of a chopped kale and chickpea salad in a serving bowl with a wooden serving spoon.
  • To make this salad, you’ll roast the chickpea “croutons” first. Once they’re cool, you can set them aside at room temperature or refrigerate for 2-3 days until you assemble the salad.
  • Prep the kale: The trick is to slice the leaves into small pieces so that they can soak up the dressing and make them easier to eat.
  • Whisk the dressing together in a bowl.

Sturdy, crinkled kale leaves are a great way to enjoy the lemon vinaigrette dressing, which is tangy, garlicky and utterly crave-worthy.

As a matter of fact, letting the dressing mingle with the kale for a bit before eating only improves the flavor and texture.

You can even make it hours ahead of time with no fear of ending up with a wilted, soggy salad.

Tuscan Kale Salad with Smoky Roasted Chickpeas

Tuscan kale and other types

Kale comes in a variety of textures and colors — including green, curly, red and purple kinds.

You can use any type of kale you like to make this salad. I used dark green Tuscan kale because it stands out from the crowd with its almost blue-black color and crinkled leaves.

Tuscan kale (lacinato) is an Italian variety of leafy brassica related to cauliflower, broccoli, collards and Brussels sprouts.

Tuscan kale goes by a few different names, which is annoying, because it can be confusing when you’re shopping for it.

Just know that when you see kale labeled as Lacinato, Dinosaur, black kale or cavalo nero, it’s all Tuscan kale.

No matter what you call it, kale is one of the most nutritious foods you can eat, loaded with extraordinary amounts of vitamins (A, K and C) as well as calcium.

How to cut and prep kale:

Learn the steps to cut up a bunch of Tuscan kale or any variety of kale for a salad:

  1. Remove the tough rib that runs down the middle of the leaves. You can either do this by hand by literally tearing it out, or use a knife to cut the ribs out one by one.
  2. To shred the kale into ribbons for the salad, make a manageable stack of leaves and turn them so that their long side is horizontally aligned with your cutting board.
  3. Then use a large, sharp knife and slice the kale crosswise into 1/4-inch or so ribbons.
Image showing how to chop kale, with a cutting board, chef's knife and leaves, stems and sliced kale pieces.

Put the leaves in a colander or salad spinner and give them a good rinse. Spin or blot dry and you’re ready to go.

To prepare the kale ahead of time, just put the shredded leaves in a zippered storage bag along with a paper towel to absorb excess water.

Stick the bag in the fridge, where the kale keeps beautifully for about a week.

Close up photo of a serving plate topped with chopped kale salad topped with roasted chickpeas, lemon zest and parmesan cheese, with a fork digging into the salad.

The smoky roasted chickpeas topping the salad are very, very snack-able (just warning you.)

But there are way worse things out there to be obsessed with than chickpeas, so that’s a very good thing!

Make a double batch and eat them straight-up as a snack, or keep them in the fridge for sprinkling on salads, pasta or roasted vegetables.

More simple and delicious salad recipes:

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Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas and Lemon Vinaigrette

Karen Tedesco
A savory kale salad with smoky roasted chickpeas, Parmesan and lemon vinaigrette — the best salad to get your daily serving of greens!
Print Pin
4.88 from 16 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 5 tablespoons (112 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) white wine vinegar
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
  • ¼ cup (25 g) freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano, plus a small wedge for serving
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Roasted Chickpea "Croutons"

  • 1 (425 g) 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

For the salad

  • 2 12-14 ounce bunches (400 g) kale (8 cups), ribs removed

Instructions 

Make the lemon vinaigrette

  • Put the lemon zest, juice, vinegar and garlic in a bowl and add ¾ teaspoon salt, stirring to dissolve the salt. Whisk in the remaining 3-4 tablespoons olive oil, the cheese and red pepper. Taste and season with a pinch more salt if you think it needs some.

Roast the chickpeas

  • Heat the oven to 400 (200C) degrees.
  • Toss the chickpeas on a small rimmed baking sheet or large ovenproof skillet with the olive oil, paprika and salt until they're evenly coated with the spices. Roast 15-20 minutes — they should smell fragrant and look slightly shriveled. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

Prepare the salad

  • Stack the kale leaves into a loose pile and slice crosswise into thin ribbons. Wash and spin dry, then blot with a clean towel if they’re dripping wet.
  • Put the kale in a serving bowl. Pour the dressing over and toss the leaves with your hands so that they’re evenly coated (your hands will taste yummy). Toss in the chickpeas to coat with the dressing.
  • Shave curls of cheese over the salad with a swivel vegetable peeler. Sprinkle the salad with more chili and grated lemon as a garnish, if you like.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • This salad holds up great for a few hours at room temperature.
  • Prep the kale up to a week ahead: Wash the kale, shred the leaves and pop into a ziptop bag with a damp paper towel. 
  • To make the salad ahead, toss the kale with the dressing, keeping the chickpeas separate, for 1-2 days in the fridge. Top with the chickpeas when ready to eat.
  • Roast the chickpeas and keep them refrigerated 2-3 days until you assemble the salad.

Nutrition

Calories: 185kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 106mg | Potassium: 32mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 297IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 1mg
Did you make this recipe? Mention @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Instagram

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about making cooking fun and doable, with easy to follow tested recipes and incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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6 Comments

  1. Kailee @ Foodie Digital says:

    5 stars
    This is my new favourite kale salad! Such juicy flavours. Thank you for the delicious recipe, Karen!

  2. Is the 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan in the ingredient list the optional shaved Parmesan cheese in the directions?

    1. No – my error. I just corrected, but you add the 1/4 cup cheese to the dressing. Thanks!

  3. This looks like an amazing salad; great idea to use the roasted chickpeas!