Kale Salad with Cajun Spiced Chickpeas and Buttermilk Dressing

Oh how I love my dark leafy greens! When I saw that lacinato kale was on sale at Whole Foods again this week, I had to indulge. Lacinato kale has become my favorite variety because its dark, glossy green leaves are much easier to work with (IMHO) and a bit more tender than curly kale, which makes it perfect for raw salads. For this kale salad, I added Cajun spiced chickpeas for a flavorful kick, a tangy homemade buttermilk dressing, a few thin slivers of red onion, and a light dusting of Parmesan cheese. The savory combination of flavors in this kale salad is right up my alley and interesting enough to serve as a light summer meal. Or, if salad meals aren’t your thing, this salad would be the perfect compliment to the smoky flavors of grilled meat.

P.S. I really believe in using real buttermilk rather than a buttermilk substitute (like milk plus vinegar or lemon juice) because it has a unique flavor that really makes the dressing. If you’re hesitant to buy a quart of buttermilk just for one recipe, check out my tutorial on how to freeze buttermilk so that the rest won’t go to waste and you’ll always have some on hand for buttermilk biscuits, pancakes, or whatever recipe you want to take up a notch.

Kale Salad with Cajun Spiced Chickpeas and Buttermilk Dressing

Kale Salad with Cajun Spiced Chickpeas and Buttermilk Dressing. BudgetBytes.com

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Kale Salad with Cajun Spiced Chickpeas and Buttermilk Dressing

This kale salad is spiked with cajun spiced chickpeas, a tangy homemade buttermilk dressing, slivers of red onion, and a light dusting of Parmesan cheese.

Total Cost $3.93 recipe / $0.98 serving
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

BUTTERMILK DRESSING

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk $0.30
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise $0.37
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice $0.07
  • 1/4 tsp salt (plus more to taste) $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.03
  • 1/4 tsp oregano $0.03
  • Freshly cracked pepper $0.03

CAJUN SPICED CHICKPEAS*

  • 15 oz can chickpeas $0.99
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil $0.16
  • 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika $0.05
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder $0.03
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder $0.02
  • 1/4 tsp oregano $0.03
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper $0.02
  • 1/8 tsp thyme $0.02
  • Freshly cracked pepper

SALAD

  • 1 bunch lacinato kale (about 1/2 lb.) $1.50
  • 1/4 red onion $0.20
  • 1.5 Tbsp grated Parmesan $0.20

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dressing first, so the flavors have time to blend. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk dressing ingredients (buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, oregano, and about 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill). Taste the dressing and add more salt if desired. Refrigerate the dressing until ready to use.
  2. Drain the chickpeas in a colander and rinse with cool water. Add the olive oil to a non-stick skillet and place over a medium flame. Add the drained chickpeas along with the salt, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cayenne, thyme, and another 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill. Sauté the chickpeas and spices for about five minutes, or until the chickpeas are slightly toasted. Remove from the heat.
  3. Remove the stems from the kale, then slice the kale leaves into thin strips (see step by step photos below for more detail). Rinse the kale with cool water and allow the excess water to drain away. Thinly slice the red onion.
  4. To build the salad, place the washed kale in a large bowl (or four serving bowls), add the spiced chickpeas, a few slices of red onion, and a light dusting of Parmesan (about 1 tsp per serving). Finally, taste the buttermilk dressing after it has had time to refrigerate and adjust the salt if needed. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and then serve.

Recipe Notes

*Feel free to use a store bought premixed Cajun seasoning blend (about 1/2 Tbsp). Just check to see if it contains salt or not. If not, add salt as needed.

Kale Salad with Cajun Spiced Chickpeas and Buttermilk Dressing. BudgetBytes.com

Kale Salad with Cajun Spiced Chickpeas and Buttermilk Dressing. BudgetBytes.com

Step by Step Photos

Okay, some how I forgot to take a photo of the dressing, but it wouldn’t have been much anyway, so I’ll just tell you what to do: In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1/3 cup mayonnaise (I used light), 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp oregano, and about 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill. Taste and add more salt if desired (I think I added a pinch more, but not even 1/4 tsp). Refrigerate until ready to use to allow the flavors to blend. The taste will become more “smooth” with refrigeration.

Rinse Chickpeas

Drain a 15oz. can of chickpeas, then rinse with cool water. Let the excess water drain away.

Cajun Spiced Chickpeas

Add the drained chickpeas to a non-stick skillet along with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/8 tsp thyme, and another 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill. Sauté the chickpeas and spices over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the chickpeas get a little toasted.

Cajun Spiced Chickpeas close

Here’s a close up of the chickpeas so you can see that they just have a little brown on the edges. You don’t want to cook them too long or they’ll get dry. After they’re cooked, just remove them from the heat.

Remove Kale Stems

Next it’s time to de-stem and clean the kale leaves (1 bunch, or about 1/2 lb.). You can remove the stems by sliding the point of a knife along each side of the stem, but that would take forever with 20-25 leaves. So, what I do is hold the base of the stem with my left hand and pinch with my right hand just above where I’m holding it with my left hand. Slide the pinching fingers down along the stem towards the tip of the leaf and it will pull the leafy green off of the tough stem. The stem will naturally break where it becomes tender. The leaves above had the stems remove with this pinch-slide technique. It’s fast and easy!

Slice Kale

Then just stack the leaves and slice them into 1/2 inch wide strips.

Rinse Kale

Finally, rinse the kale well to make sure there is no dirt, debris, or critters. 😳

Slice Red Onion

The only other thing you need is very thinly sliced red onion. The key is to make it paper thin!

Kale Salad with Cajun Spiced Chickpeas and Buttermilk Dressing. BudgetBytes.com

Now just build the salads! Place some of the rinsed greens in a bowl, add some spiced chickpeas, a few pieces of sliced red onion, about a teaspoon of grated Parmesan (to each bowl), and a drizzle of the dressing. Since the dressing kind of mellows out while it refrigerates, it’s always a good idea to give it one last taste before adding it to the salad to see if you want to adjust any of the ingredients.

Kale Salad with Cajun Spiced Chickpeas and Buttermilk Dressing. BudgetBytes.com

Now make your mom proud and eat your greens. :)

Kale Salad with Cajun Spiced Chickpeas and Buttermilk Dressing. BudgetBytes.com

Kale Salad with Cajun Spiced Chickpeas and Buttermilk Dressing. Cheap eats, GOOD eats.

Kale Salad with Cajun Spiced Chickpeas and Buttermilk Dressing. BudgetBytes.com