Healthy Crispy Chicken Kale Caesar Salad (Gluten-Free!)

This salad is like spring in a bowl.

It’s fresh, bright, light, amazing. And there’s not one itty bit of gluten in sight.

After placing a rather obscenely expensive order on Revolve, I knew it was time to get my diet in order. Those high-cut bathing suits aren’t going to wear themselves, and in my current condition, neither am I. So in typical basic bitch fashion I’ve been resorting to all the usual tactics — running, green shit, no carbs. It’s a boring, painful concoction, but hot damn does it work. And luckily I can still incorporate salads like this into the scheme, because I need at least ONE meal a day to look forward to.

You start by dredging in the chicken tenders in egg + egg white, then coating in seasoned panko. Transfer to a piping hot skillet (cast iron is best) then bake in the oven for 20 minutes, flipping once. To grease the wheels — aka: get dem chicken crispy — I relied on cooking spray, which I normally don’t do. But again: SUMMER! So I’ve gotta step my game up. I suggest buying a true olive oil spray like Bertolli, Trader Joe’s or Chosen Foods. These feel less carcinogenic than other brands (ahem… PAM), so go that route. Anyway, between the cast iron, spray, and panko this chicken bakes up CHOICE.

Crunchy, golden, tender, delicious! And without any unnecessary calories or carbs.

While the chicken cooks, attend to the salad. The dressing here is LIGHT, with absolutely no egg (traditional dressings have this) and less than a quarter of the usual dose of parmesan. It’s still insanely flavorful, of course, but it’s lightened-up for all your leggy needs. Minced anchovies are recommended here — it truly lends that classic Caesar flavor — but anchovy paste can be used too. And if you want to swap out the reduced-fat sour cream for greek yogurt, go for it!!

Be even more hardcore than me and watch my jealousy soar.

Once the chicken is cooked and the dressing prepped, this recipe is basically over. Pile it high with all sorts of toppings — I used tomato, red onion, and avocado! — dress the kale, slice the chicken, and there you have it. I’ve gotten in the habit of massaging my kale with lemon juice before dressing with the Caesar, as this strategy seems to remove a lot of bitterness. And of course, flaked parmesan on top is MANDATORY, even though bikini season is here.

You gotta live for something, right?

Overall this is filling, satisfying, and SO easy to put together. Serve it once for you and your boo, or enjoy it yourself over multiple days — The dressing keeps nicely for about a week. xo

Healthy Crispy Chicken Kale Caesar Salad (Gluten-Free!)

Ingredients:

  • SALAD:
  • 1 lb boneless/skinless chicken tenders
  • a few dashes of salt & pepper
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 avocado
  • 7 oz kale lettuce, torn + stems removed
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • cooking spray to coat
  • DRESSING:
  • 3 tbsps fat-free greek yogurt
  • 3 tbsps reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsps dijon mustard
  • 3 – 4 anchovies, minced
  • 2 tbsps parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of salt & pepper

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F. Please a cast iron skillet or oven-proof skillet in the oven while heating.
  2. Amply season the chicken tenders with salt & pepper. Next, in a wide-set bowl add the panko crumbs, cayenne pepper, and thyme, tossing to combine. In another bowl add the egg and egg white, lightly beating to mix. Dredge each chicken tender in the egg, then amply coat with the panko crumbs — Transfer to a wire rack or cutting board, and repeat until all chicken has been coated. Spray the top of each tender with cooking spray.
  3. Remove the heated skillet from the oven and neatly arrange the chicken tenders inside, placing them spray-side down. Spray the now naked tops once more with cooking spray, then cook on oven rack for 8 – 10 minutes. Gently flip with a fork, then bake 8 – 10 minutes more until browned, crisp, and cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, on a cutting board halve the grape tomatoes and thinly slice the onion and avocado. Next, in a mixing bowl combine all dressing ingredients and whisk until smooth. Start with just 3 minced anchovies, then taste to see if you’d like to add one more.
  5. Once the chicken is cooked, allow it to cool for 5 minutes before slicing. While it cools, toss the kale in lemon juice, then the Caesar dressing. When ready, build your salads with the dressed kale, sliced chicken, tomatoes, onion, avocado, and parmesan cheese. EAT!
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