Garlicky Kale Parmesan and Panko Salad

Garlicky Kale Parmesan and Panko Salad - Healthy and Delicious Salad Recipe

Garlicky Kale, Parmesan and Panko Salad. The name stumped me on this one. For a while I considered calling this the “Best Thing That Happened To Me This Week” salad. The first time I served it to my husband, he mumbled those words between elated mouthfuls. Yes, this kale salad has the power to induce major feelings of euphoria… kale! The thing I once despised, then learned to massage, then grew to love. Can you imagine?

It’s kind of hard to describe this salad. What started as a Caesar dressing evolved into more of a creamy roasted garlic dressing with Parmesan. Croutons (which I’ve always felt are somewhat unwieldy, especially the big ones) were replaced by toasted panko and crushed red pepper flakes. I massaged the kale with the dressing till it mellowed out, then tossed it with the panko and Parmesan. The resulting salad has a Caesar-ish flavor, but with a bit of a spicy kick. It’s heavenly. You’ll just need to trust me here.

You probably already know this, but just in case you don’t, kale is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It’s a cruciferous leafy green packed with Vitamins A, B6, C, and K along with magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese and phosphorus. It also contains strong phytonutrients and cancer-fighting antioxidants. The fiber in kale helps to lower blood cholesterol levels. Eating kale regularly can lower your risk of cancer and heart disease. It’s fabulous stuff, especially when prepared like this. I feel slightly addicted to this salad. Serve it at a party and prepare to be asked for the recipe over and over and over again.

Looking for a gluten free version of this salad? Just leave out the breadcrumbs and make sure your packaged products are certified GF (Lea and Perrins Worcestershire is gluten free, as is Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce and Annie’s Dijon mustard). Now go eat your greens!

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Garlicky Kale Parmesan and Panko Salad - Healthy and Delicious Salad Recipe

Garlicky Kale Parmesan and Panko Salad


  • 1 bunch kale, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup panko style breadcrumbs (may omit for gluten free or use certified GF panko breadcrumbs)
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp grated parmesan, divided
  • 2 1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce (for gluten free use a certified GF Worcestershire sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
  • Dash of tabasco, to taste

You will also need

  • Blender, small saucepan, mixing bowls, frying pan
Servings: 8 side servings
Kosher Key: Dairy (Fish)
  • In a small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup of olive oil with the garlic cloves. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until the garlic turns light golden brown and roasted, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove from heat. The oil will be very hot. Once the oil has cooled to room temperature, remove and reserve the garlic cloves. Keep the garlic-infused oil, you'll need it soon.
  • In a blender combine roasted garlic cloves, mayonnaise, lemon juice, water, 1 tbsp parmesan, dijon mustard, worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and tabasco. Blend until smooth and well combined.
  • Turn the blender to medium and very slowly drizzle in the roasted garlic oil through the opening in the top. Do not pour it in all at once or it will not emulsify and you will have a broken dressing.
  • Remove the lid and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. Replace the lid and blend on high once more. The finished dressing should be smooth and well combined with no streaks of oil.
  • In a small mixing bowl combine panko breadcrumbs, 1 tbsp olive oil and crushed red pepper. Toss to combine.
  • Garlicky Kale Parmesan and Panko Salad - Healthy and Delicious Salad RecipeTransfer the breadcrumb mixture to a frying pan and cook over medium heat till the breadcrumbs are toasted golden brown, stirring often to prevent burning. Remove the breadcrumbs from the pan and set aside.
  • Garlicky Kale Parmesan and Panko Salad - Healthy and Delicious Salad RecipePlace chopped kale into a large mixing bowl or salad bowl. Pour the roasted garlic dressing over the kale, then massage the kale for 3-4 minutes till kale is wilted and well coated with dressing.
  • Garlicky Kale Parmesan and Panko Salad - Healthy and Delicious Salad RecipeAdd breadcrumbs and 1/4 cup of parmesan to the salad and toss to combine.
  • Garlicky Kale Parmesan and Panko Salad - Healthy and Delicious Salad RecipeServe.
  • Garlicky Kale Parmesan and Panko Salad - Healthy and Delicious Winter Salad Recipe

Comments (64)Post a Comment

    1. Janet panko is widely available in most grocery stores now, it can be found near the regular breadcrumbs. They are lighter and crispier/crunchier than traditional breadcrumbs, as Paul noted. They make a great coating for deep fried foods– here they take the place of croutons and add a nice crunch throughout the salad. :)

  1. I can’t wait to try this salad!! I love anything kale. I even got my husband to try it sautéed and he agreed it was “ok”. How does it hold up? As in leftovers. I know in most houses there wouldn’t be any, but knowing 1 person living in my house, there might be a serving or two leftover. Is it too wilty the next day?

    1. It will last a day or two in the fridge Renee, however I would add the Parmesan and Panko to each individual serving rather than to the whole salad so they don’t get soggy/clumpy (keep the Parmesan in the dressing though). Store the panko and Parmesan in separate zipper bags and add them just before serving. Enjoy!

  2. Why this sudden fascination with Kale? All of a sudden it is the “must have” green! Just like Panko….who decides to push them above all other ingredients? Not picking on you Tori…just curious.

    1. Theresa kale is pretty much the healthiest green you can eat, plus it’s seasonal which may be why you’re seeing lots of kale recipes lately. As for panko, it’s really different than regular breadcrumbs, and I think people are having fun experimenting with it in recipes. I’m not necessarily “pushing” panko– I prefer regular breadcrumbs in some applications. But I do like panko in this salad. Breadcrumbs wouldn’t give you the same kind of light, airy crunch. :)

    1. Diana the mayo is there for creaminess and to help emulsify the dressing. It doesn’t give an overly-mayo taste to the dressing, if that’s what you’re concerned about. If you’re worried about cholesterol, you can sub vegannaise. Worcestershire sauce often contains a small amount of anchovy paste, which is why the recipe says “fish.” You can sub a vegetarian Worcestershire sauce if you prefer, there are a few on the market.

    2. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
      I substituted regular mayo with wasabi mayo (since its lower in saturated fat) and took out the tabasco and it was great.

  3. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Tori this is so so so delicious and different- a big hit with lasagna for tonight’s dinner!! Thank you for sharing. I used reduced fat mayo and it was still fab!

  4. Excellent!
    I just had two servings and I want to go back for a third. I love the crunch of the panko and the salt from the cheese.
    For those freaked out about the mayo, a little of this dressing goes a long way so you won’t taste the mayo, promise.
    This is a keeper!

  5. My caesar dressing is supe simple and a twist on the recipe from Gourmet Cookbook.

    Caesar Dressing:

    In a blender add:
    1 to 2 tablespoons anchovy paste
    1-2 chopped garlic cloves
    1 teaspoon of worcestershire sauce (more to taste)
    1 teaspoon white vinegar
    1 tablespoon lemon juice; blend while streaming 9 tablespoons of olive oil through the opening in the lid of the blender.

  6. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi Tori, have been using your recipes ever since I discovered your Passover suggestions. Favorites have included pumpkin challah, brussel sprouts with pomegranates. Had to write to say this kale recipe completely lives up to your description! Everyone loved it and went for seconds. Thanks for the fantastic inspiration.

  7. Tori, I do not like kale EXCEPT in this recipe! It is terrific! I have made it twice, and I’ve loved it each time.

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    My daughter just introduced me to my newest obsession, kale chips, and then I found this kale salad recipe. Absolutely delicious! I’ve made a ton of your recipes, and almost every one has turned out perfectly. My family (including my Israeli husband) loves you! Chicken shwarma is on the menu for this week…

    1. Beth you could try subbing 1 tbsp of mayo for the parmesan in the dressing and omitting the parmesan in the salad, however I personally think the parmesan flavor really makes this recipe… here’s hoping it turns out tasty!

  9. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I just had to say that this recipe was absolutely delicious!! My entire family gobbled it up – my three kids (5, 8 and 11, and the 8-year old is normally really picky!), plus my husband who usually does not care for kale. I am sending this recipe to my friends – everyone should try it! So yummy!!

    1. Great Leigh! I recently brought it to a friend’s house for a potluck and her son said it’s his favorite salad ever. I was very pleased, as he’s only 8 or 9 years old– the fact that he loved a kale salad says something!

  10. Hi Tori,
    to chime into to jubilations, we had this kale yesterday with a Za’tar roasted chicken, piri-piri sauce and sweet potato wedges. I only knew curly kale cooked (a staple winter dish from the North of Germany) and I wanted to try a raw kale dish for a long time and this was just the push. Oh, lovely. The whole combination was so nice that I’d like to include it in one of the next posts on my blog (with link and all the credit, of course), if you are d’accord. Am I happy there are leftovers for lunch…
    Greetings, N.

    1. Hi Nicole! I’m so pleased you enjoyed it (and funny, I had za’atar roasted chicken last night for dinner as well!). I love it when people share my blog with others, but I ask that the recipes be shared as links to my site rather than reproducing the entire recipe on your own site. As you might imagine, running a site as complicated as mine is costly and time consuming. One way I am able to provide this service is with advertising revenue, which is generated by traffic to my website. When people reproduce the recipes on their own site, it takes traffic away from my site and I am less able to provide the large amount of free content that I share. I hope you understand. I am always happy for link mentions, though. I really love it when people share their own picture of one of my recipes, then link back to my site for the recipe… that way I get a pingback, so I can check out how yours turned out!

    2. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
      Hi Tori,
      Of course, I’ll link, that’s why asked. For me it is a perfect recipe (where you could get such a great garlicky-Caesar hand-massage, I might open a SPA, interested?) and I normally change a lot, there is no way adapting it and anyway why rewrite it. The photo is a bit difficult – we ate the lot and completely forgot. Next time. There will be quite a lot of kale salad experiments here and I hope most of them will be as good as this. N.

  11. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I just made this last night. It was delicious! My family and I loved it! I used Ian’s gluten free original style panko breadcrumbs and they were great. We will make this again and again! Thank you, Tori.

  12. This looks wonderful. Must try tonight.. Thank you for not only the recipes, but the detailed descriptions step by step & the history of the holidays.

  13. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    This sounds awesome. I made *(& massaged) a kale salad with shredded brussels sprouts just the other day. I used what I call a basic dressing (oil, cider vinegar, fresh crushed garlic, dry mustard, Worcestershire, oregano, Hungarian paprika) that’s been in the family forever. I took a little of that and added the juice of 1/2 naval orange, and added some of Trader Joe’s Sweet & Spicy pecans. Love the idea of the panko breadcrumbs.

    1. Right?? It’s so addicting. It’s become a regular on my menu when I host dinner parties, friends always ask me to make it… even the ones who formerly “hated” kale!

  14. When making this for a dinner party, how far ahead can you make it? Or how much of it can you do ahead and then finish at the last minute. I would hate to be in the kitchen massaging kale with guests waiting for dinner.

    1. Carol, you may make the dressing up to a day ahead– that is the most time consuming part of the process. If you make it properly (slowly drizzle oil into the blender to emulsify) it will stay thick and won’t separate in the fridge. You can also toast the breadcrumbs ahead. Massage the kale that morning without dressing until it is wilted and sweet-tasting, and keep it in the refrigerator. Toss everything together just before serving. Enjoy!

  15. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious! My only suggestion would be to not put the whole dressing on the kale leaves as I did find there was a tad too much.

    Thank you for the delicious recipe!

  16. I always have boatloads of kale (I own rabbits, and they love the stuff), so I love a new recipe for what to do with it. This looks amazing. Will definitely be trying. Thanks :)

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