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Baby Kale Salad with Lemon, Parmesan & Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

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This delicious salad makes a satisfying and healthy lunch all on its own, or a perfect side to jazz up a simple rotisserie chicken for dinner.

Plate of baby kale salad with lemon, parmesan, and crispy roasted chickpeas.

Kale, a.k.a. the “queen of greens,” is one of the healthiest things you can eat, but it doesn’t always taste great raw. In fact, I once read an article that likened the experience of eating raw kale as feeling like your mouth was being battered by a giant tree. But a good kale salad, prepared properly with the right mix of ingredients, can be a revelation.

This version — made with tender baby kale, crispy roasted chickpeas (love!), nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano and a zingy lemon vinaigrette — is just that. It makes a satisfying and healthy lunch all on its own, or a perfect side to jazz up a simple rotisserie chicken for dinner.

What you’ll need to make kale salad

Salad ingredients including lemon, garlic, and sea salt.

Before we get to the recipe, let’s talk about the two main types of kale. The first is Curly Kale, the kind you see in most supermarkets, which is dark green with tight ruffled leaves. It has a pungent, peppery flavor and is quite chewy, making it better for cooking (especially kale chips).

The second is Lacinato Kale (also called Dinosaur kale or Tuscan kale), which is typically a dark blueish-green color with long, narrow leaves. It’s slightly sweeter and more delicate than curly kale, which makes it better suited for salads.

To serve kale raw in a salad, you have to remove all the thick ribs running through the leaves, chop the leaves finely and then let them marinate in the dressing so they soften up.

Container of Earthbound Farm kale.

For this recipe, I decided to forgo all that and use tender baby kale instead. It has a milder flavor than mature kale, similar to arugula, yet its leaves are still peppery and sturdy enough to stand up to bolder flavors. It comes pre-washed and ready to serve, so even though you might have to make a trip to Whole Foods to find it, it will save you time and effort in the end.

How to make Kale Salad

Chickpeas rinsing in a sieve.

Begin by rinsing and draining the chickpeas.

Spatula tossing chickpeas on a lined baking sheet.

Toss the chickpeas with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast for about 10 minutes, until the chickpeas are slightly browned and crisp.

Roasted chickpeas on a lined baking sheet.

Meanwhile, make the dressing by combining the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl.

Fork in a bowl of dressing.

Toss the kale with the dressing.

Forks tossing a bowl of salad.

Use a vegetable peeler to shave the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Pieces of shaved parmesan on a cutting board.

Transfer the kale to plates and top with roasted chickpeas and shaved Parmesan.

Plate of baby kale salad with lemon, parmesan, and crispy roasted chickpeas.

Note: If you can’t find baby kale, feel free to substitute any other deep green blend, arugula or Lacinato kale (you’ll just have to chop the leaves and let it marinate a bit).

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Baby Kale Salad with Lemon, Parmesan & Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

This delicious salad makes a satisfying and healthy lunch all on its own, or a perfect side to jazz up a simple rotisserie chicken for dinner.

Servings: 2-4
Total Time: 20 Minutes


For the Roasted Chickpeas

  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Salad

  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, from one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 5oz Bag or Container Baby Kale or Kale/Dark Greens Mix
  • ½ cup shaved Parmigiano-Regianno


  1. Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Place the chickpeas on the prepared baking sheet and toss with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 10-12 minutes, stirring once, until the chickpeas are slightly shrunken and crispy. Let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Add the greens and toss until evenly coated. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary (I usually add a bit more salt). Arrange on plates and top with Parmigiano-Regianno shavings and crispy roasted chickpeas.
  4. Note: If you can't find baby kale, feel free to substitute any other deep green blend, arugula or Lacinato kale (you'll just have to chop the leaves and let it marinate a bit).

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (4 servings)
  • Calories: 342
  • Fat: 20g
  • Saturated fat: 4g
  • Carbohydrates: 29g
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Fiber: 8g
  • Protein: 14g
  • Sodium: 940mg
  • Cholesterol: 10mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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  • I needed to make a kale salad on the spur of the moment and only had on hand curly kale (labeled “kale greens”) and had no chickpeas. Nonetheless, I went with what I had and the salad I made was delicious, a testament to the wonderful dressing and helpful instructions in the recipe about substituting other kale. Thank you so much, Jenn. I look forward to trying the recipe with baby kale and crispy chickpeas. I am sure it will be even more fabulous.

    • — Ellen Mac on March 5, 2024
    • Reply
  • Great salad! Used arugula since baby kale was out of stock. Followed the recipe as written and it was a perfect and elegant companion to the “nice” lasagna recipe on this site which I served with steak. Will definitely make again.

    • — SK on December 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • Simple and delicious!

    • — Kim H. on October 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • YUM! I just finished eating my salad and thoroughly enjoyed it. I followed the recipe exactly but added dried a handful of cranberries for sweetness.

    • — Linda on July 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • Delighted with the super-simple dressing – though it needed a brief massage into the baby kale to soften the greens before portioning the salad. The shaved parmesan curls looked & tasted great with it. As for the chickpeas, even after rinsing, draining, and rolling in a tea towel to dry, they took longer than expected to crisp up at the surface (even with convection on) and were quite soft in the inside. If I make these again I’ll roast them thoroughly in advance and add flavorings beside salt & pepper: possibly garlic, rosemary, or green goddess seasoning. I recommend adding halved cherry tomatoes (or pomegranate seeds as suggested by another reviewer) to the salad for color and taste contrast. Looking forward to trying this recipe again with other greens from this summer’s CSA share.

    • — Jean on June 26, 2023
    • Reply
  • This is incredibly good salad and incredibly easy to make!
    I made it with 50-50 baby spinach and mixed greens (because the store didn’t have baby kale). Wow it was good! Everybody at the dinner raved. Really good leftovers the next day.

  • I love chickpeas, but I must have done something wrong with these chickpeas even though I followed the directions exactly, because they came out chewy and not crunchy. Kind of ruined the whole salad…but sauce was good!

  • I would like to take this to the beach but we camp so I would need to make it ahead. Will it be ok if I make, mix it all together and store it in a container?

    • Hi Heather, It depends on how long it will be sitting, but for the best results, I’d probably store all the components separately and then combine them before serving. Hope that helps!

  • This salad is SPECTACULAR! Love love love. My family and I can eat it every day. Super easy to make, too!

  • I really wasn’t expecting much when I made this salad. After all, there’s not a whole lot to it. But it is DELICIOUS and the roasted chickpeas are absolutely snack-worthy. It seemed like a lot of dressing to me (and I usually like it that way), so next time I will probably add more greens.

  • Love this recipe. Simple, elegant, delicious. I did not roast the chick peas, used straight out of the can

    • Simple and delicious! I wanted a little more lemon in the dressing. It’s super easy to adjust based on taste.

  • Easy, healthy, and most of all delicious.

  • A family favorite! Thank you

  • Hi Jen,

    I’ve made this salad before and it’s perfect just as you have it. My mom doesn’t want kale and I wonder if I can substitute butter lettuce? Thanks.

    • — Glorianne Naughton
    • Reply
    • Sure, Glorianne, that should work. Enjoy!

  • Nothing but deliciousness and quick and easy to make!

  • Delicious Jenn, light and fresh salad that was easy to prepare. I brought it to dinner with friends. Enjoyed by all. I’m thinking of adding dried cranberries during Christmas for a festive feel .

    So many more recipes to try Jenn – You are truly my go to favourite 🙂

    Can’t wait for your next Cookbook.

    • — Deborah Ottawa Canada 🇨🇦
    • Reply
  • I have made this salad several times and absolutely love it!!! The flavours are amazing and I would recommend it to everyone! I didn’t measure the salt and pepper precisely, just add to taste if you are on a low sodium diet 🙂

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