Cacio e Pepe Kale Salad

This kale salad recipe has everything you could possible want, healthy greens, a wealth of cheese, and crunchy homemade sourdough croutons. It doesn’t get much better than that.

How to prep your kale salad

Leaves only: Remove those hearty leaves from their ribs. This recipe, like most kale salads, calls for the leaves only.

Spin it: A salad is only as good as its clean leaves. This is the salad spinner I use and it does’t disappoint one bit. It’s firm, easy to use, and gets every single bead of water off.

Massage your kale: Loosen all the tension. When it comes to massaging your kale, this is a step you simply cannot skip. Kale is a tough cruciferous vegetable that needs to be tenderized. Otherwise, you’ll have a leather-like salad which is not enjoyable for anyone. With just a 2-3 minute massage, you’ll have softened leaves ready to be devoured. And just like any massage, you’ll need your oils – or in this case, your olive oils.

Shop All My Favorite Salad Essentials From Food52

What cheese you’ll need

Like a traditional cacio e pepe, the pecorino romano is the star of this dish. But, if you don’t have pecorino at hand, a grated parmesan will work just fine. Which ever cheese you use, just make sure to apply it liberally. This is not the time to skimp on cheese here.

How to make homemade croutons

Truly if the cheese is the star of the dish, these croutons are the crunchy co-star. They take almost no time at all and a great way to use up any stale bread you have hanging around.

Hope you enjoy this salad as much as I do. It comes together so quickly, but tastes as if you spent all day putting it together.

Cacio e Pepe Kale Salad

Cacio e Pepe Kale Salad

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes


  • 1 bunch of red kale (can use lacinato or green), leaves stripped and ribs discarded
  • 3 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 slice of sour dough bread, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp of grated pecorino romano cheese or parmesan cheese
  • 2 tsp of black pepper


  1. Pre-heat your oven to 375
  2. Place your cut-up slice of bread in a medium-sized bowl, add in 1 tbsp of olive oil and garlic powder. Mix until all ingredients are combined. Place on a sheet pan and put in oven until bread is golden brown - about 10 minutes.
  3. While the croutons are crisping, remove leaves from kale ribs and wash in a salad spinner. Once kale leaves are dry, roughly chop and place in large salad bowl.
  4. Add in your remaining olive oil and squeeze the juice of half a lemon. Massage kale leaves for 2-3 minutes or until kale is softer and tender.
  5. Add in your cheese and black pepper. Mix and taste. Adjust as necessary. If more cheese is needed, add it.
  6. Once the croutons are finished, add them in and toss. Plate and enjoy.
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