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California Avocado Kale Salad with Cashew Ranch Dressing and Crispy Chickpea Croutons (vegan)

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  • Author: Elaine Gordon
  • Total Time: 45 mins
  • Yield: 2 1x
  • Diet: Vegan



Crispy Chickpeas

  • 1, 15-ounce can chickpeas (rinsed, drained and thoroughly dried)
  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

Cashew Ranch Dressing

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews (soaked*)
  • 1 1/4 filtered water
  • 1/2 California avocado
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine ground black pepper
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian, flat leaf parsley, large stems removed
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, large stems removed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives


  • 10 ounces lacinato kale (also known as Dino or dinosaur kale), stems removed, finely chopped (~6 cups)
  • 1/2 California avocado, sliced

Additional topping ideas:

  • hemp seeds
  • cooked quinoa
  • salted and roasted pepita seeds
  • red or green onions


  1. Prepare the crispy chickpeas: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a fine mesh strainer, rinse the chickpeas.  Use a kitchen towel while the chickpeas are still in the fine mesh strainer and thoroughly dry the chickpeas. While drying the skins will naturally fall off as you gently press the chickpeas into the strainer using the kitchen towel.  This is good as the skin would otherwise lock in the moisture and the chickpeas would get soggy while roasted.  Place dried and skinned chickpeas in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and toss with avocado oil. Bake for 35 minutes, tossing halfway. Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.  Set aside.
  2. Prepare the dressing: In a high speed blender, add all the dressing ingredients. Blend on high speed until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. You may want to add more lemon juice for more tang, more maple syrup for sweetness or more seasonings or fresh herbs for added flavor. For a thinner consistency add more water. If possible this is great to make ahead of time as the blending process can warm the dressing. Ideally, I like to make in advance and chill in the refrigerator before using.
  3. Assemble the salad: Place kale in a large salad bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the dressing and toss to combine well so all leaves are evenly coated. Add more dressing if desired. The recipe makes more dressing than you will likely need so save the rest for dipping raw veggies or for future salads. Plate the dressed kale salad and top with warm crispy chickpeas and freshly sliced avocado. Serve and enjoy!


*To soak the cashews, place in a large lidded glass jar or bowl and cover with boiling water. Allow to soak for 30 minutes minimum or up to 8 hours. After soaking drain the soaking water and discard. Rinse the soaked cashews with fresh water then thoroughly dry. Learn more about How (and Why!) to Soak Cashews in this post.

Avocado Selection and Storage:

When shopping for avocados look for avocados with no soft spots. To accelerate the ripening process, place the avocado in a brown paper bag along with an apple, banana or tomato and place in the warmest spot in your kitchen. You will know it is perfectly ripe when the skin changes from green to slightly black and it it still firm but yields a gentle pressure. Once ripe you can refrigerate for two to three days.

  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Category: Salad