Salmon Kale Caesar Salad
Enjoy these Salmon Kale Salads for a delicious twist on a classic! Creamy Caesar dressing is massaged in to perfectly soften the dark leafy greens, while the combo of crunchy croutons, juicy tomatoes, and tender flaked salmon delivers a delicious mix of flavor and texture in every bite.
Say hello to one of my favorite lunches: a delicious, nutrient-packed salmon kale salad with flavorful Caesar dressing and the most appealing medley of textures. This is one I could eat nearly every day — and I’d probably be healthier if I did just that. 🙂
Why We Love This Salmon Kale Salad
- Packed with heart-healthy protein. I’m always looking for more ways to incorporate salmon into my meals, for the protein, healthy fats, and taste!
- An explosion of texture. Sturdy kale becomes just tender enough with the addition of rich Caesar dressing. Add crunchy croutons, juicy tomatoes, crisp onions, and flaky salmon, and you have a delicious mix in every bite.
- Easy enough to throw together for lunch. You can go all out and use homemade croutons and homemade Caesar dressing, but if you opt for store-bought versions of those things you can toss this salad together with minimal time and effort.
A delicious, vibrant salad is one of my personal favorite things to eat for lunch — though I admit I didn’t feel that way when I was younger. It’s easy to make and totally satisfying for your taste buds and the rest of your body.
Related: Greek Salmon Salad
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Salmon filets. These can be skin-on or skinless, whatever you prefer. I like wild-caught salmon, but my husband prefers the taste and tenderness of farmed salmon, which typically has a higher fat content. The choice is yours!
- Curly kale. I often purchase pre-washed, pre-shredded curly kale to save time. Tuscan kale or baby kale are also good choices. You should still pick through the kale to remove any tough ribs or stems, as they are unpleasant to eat.
- Cherry tomatoes. Grape tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, anything on-the-vine, or plump Roma tomatoes are all also great options.
- Parmesan. I like the texture of shaved Parmesan in this salad, but grated or shredded also work well.
- Red onion. This is optional. I like the tang, but no one else in my family does!
- Paprika, kosher salt, and black pepper. To season the salmon. I typically use sweet paprika; smoked paprika will give it a bit more kick.
- Croutons. Splash out and make your own, or use any from the store. Lately I’ve really been loving rosemary croissant croutons from Trader Joe’s!
- Caesar salad dressing. My all-time favorite is this easy homemade lime Caesar dressing. I also like this quick vegan Caesar dressing, and for a store-bought option, Primal Kitchen’s version is tasty and clean.
- Olive oil. For cooking the salmon.
Can I substitute chicken or another protein?
Of course! This exact same salad combination is tasty with grilled chicken, chicken strips or nuggets, shrimp, or flank steak.
How To Make a Salmon Salad
I’ve always enjoyed a good salmon salad, but my love has soared to new heights since discovering the easy method of roasting salmon in a cold start oven. This is so simple and fool-proof for keeping salmon tender and flavorful! This said, if you prefer to grill or pan-sear the salmon, you absolutely can do that, too, and follow all other directions as stated.
So let’s summarize. To make this salad, you will:
- Cook the salmon. Just a little seasoning goes a long way: I use paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
- Massage dressing into the kale. This small step makes a big difference for a high-quality kale salad, as opposed to just tossing on the dressing at the end. Kale can be kind of tough, but using tongs or your hands to work a small amount of salad dressing gently into the greens (before adding the other ingredients) allows it to tenderize and develop maximum flavor.
- Add tomatoes, Parmesan, and onion if using. Gently toss. If you want to incorporate anything extra, like sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, avocado, carrots, cucumber, or other veggies, this is the time.
- Divide among bowls, top with salmon and croutons, and serve.
I find it helpful to add croutons at the end so they don’t sink down to the bottom of the salad bowl or crumble apart when worked with the tongs.
This salad makes two generous portions, so we find it perfect for a healthy yet satisfying lunch for two, or a light dinner for Mom and Dad if we don’t mind adding a little something extra for the kids.
Craving a little something extra on the side yourself? This goes wonderfully with a hunk of baguette or sourdough bread, garlic bread, garlic knots, or a light soup such as carrot or classic tomato basil.
I mean, serve this with a bowl of soup and you’re basically ready to open your own Panera!
If you try this Salmon Kale Salad, don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. I love hearing how recipes turn out in your kitchen, and it helps other readers, too.
Salmon Kale Caesar Salad
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place salmon on top, skin-side down, if it has skin. Brush the top lightly with olive oil, then sprinkle evenly with paprika, salt, and pepper.1 large salmon filet, 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/8 teaspoon sweet paprika, kosher salt and black pepper
- Place the baking sheet in the cold oven. Close the door, then turn the oven on to 400 degrees F. Set a timer for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, check the salmon. If it is done, it will flake easily when pressed with a fork and have an internal temperature nearing 145 degrees F in the thickest part. Remove and set aside.
- While the salmon roasts, place the kale in a large bowl. Remove any thick stem pieces and cut or tear into bite-sized pieces. Pour 2 Tablespoons of the dressing on top, then use tongs or your hands to lightly massage the dressing into the kale.4 cups kale, 1/4 cup Caesar dressing
- When the salmon is done, add tomatoes, Parmesan, red onion, and more dressing to taste to the kale. Toss well and divide salad among plates. Top with croutons and chunks of salmon, serve, and enjoy.1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, 1/4 cup shaved or grated Parmesan cheese, 1-2 Tablespoons thinly-sliced red onion, 1 cup croutons
- Alternate Cooking Methods: Of course you can grill or pan-sear the salmon if you prefer, and simply add to the salad when done. However you cook the salmon, it’s helpful to let it rest for 2-3 minutes after it’s done cooking before flaking and adding to the salad, so that it reaches the right temperature and has a chance to reabsorb juices that keep it moist.
- Lemon: Love a citrus punch? Squeeze 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of lemon juice over the salmon after it comes out of the oven and before adding to the salad.
- Other Mix-In Ideas: If you’re wanting to add more variety to this salad, it makes a great base. Try adding cucumbers, shredded carrots or cabbage, avocado, sunflower seeds, pepitas, or other nuts.