This vegan kale caesar pasta with crispy chickpeas is deceptively easy to make and is the perfect flavorful and satisfying weeknight meal!Jump to Recipe
This vegan kale caesar pasta is one of my favorite easy meals. It is absolutely packed with flavor, veggies, and plant-based protein (three of my favorite things). It also happens to be a sneakily easy meal to pull together, despite the seemingly long ingredient list and multiple steps. Every time I make it, I’m always asking myself “that was it?” by the end of it. It truly is a weeknight dream.
Kale Caesar Pasta Ingredients
Long-Cut Pasta: “Long-cut” pasta may seem fancy but it’s just what it sounds like. Think spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine, etc. Any of those will work wonderfully in this recipe! I used linguine.
Chickpeas: One of my favorite plant-based proteins! They’re so easy to toss in some oil and spices and throw in the oven.
Kale: We are going to chop up an entire bunch of kale, massage it in some oil and garlic, and throw it in the oven for just a few minutes until it roasts up nicely.
Olive Oil: Just a lil’ bit for the chickpeas and kale to make them nice and crispy.
Sea Salt: To bring out the flavors of the chickpeas and kale.
Garlic Powder and Cayenne Pepper: To add some flavor to the crispy chickpeas.
Garlic: To massage into the kale for that over-the-top garlicky goodness.
Plant-Based Parmesan Cheese: For sprinkling on top at the end. Dairy works if you’re not vegan.
Kale Caesar Pasta Sauce Ingredients
Cashews: To make our sauce creamy without using dairy!
Garlic: What’s a caesar sauce without garlic?
Capers and Caper Brine: These little guys are ideal for adding some umami flavor to the caesar sauce while keeping it vegan (in traditional caesar dressing the umami comes from parmesan cheese and anchovies).
Lemon Juice: To brighten everything up!
Nutritional Yeast: This deactivated yeast is a common vegan ingredient for creating a cheesy flavor. It’s also a good source of protein and B vitamins.
Dijon Mustard: To add a little spiciness.
Reserved Pasta Water: That’s right. When you drain your pasta, place a large bowl or measuring cup underneath your colander to catch that beautiful starchy pasta water. We will use less than one cup, but it’s nice to have extra on hand if needed.
Tips for Success
- Salt your pasta water! Don’t be shy. As my imaginary culinary mentors Samin Nosrat and Antoni Porowski say, your pasta water should taste like the ocean. This is what makes your pasta taste flavorful! Never fear, most of the salt will go down the drain anyway. By allowing the pasta to cook in well-salted water for an extended period of time, it salts the pasta from within and creates perfect flavor. Of course, if you have a medical issue or have been told by your doctor to reduce salt intake, ignore me and listen to your doctor.
- Don’t overcook your pasta! I usually cook until just al dente, meaning it will be slightly firm when bitten into. If your pasta is overcooked and mushy, that will definitely take away from the overall quality of this dish.
- Soak your cashews! It’s important to either soak these babies in room temperature water for 6-8 hours OR in boiled water for 30 minutes. It’s really a matter of planning ahead and doesn’t require much extra work. If you try to shortcut this process, your caesar sauce may be somewhat grainy instead of smooth and creamy.
If you make this vegan kale caesar pasta, be sure to leave a rating and review! This helps Google find my little blog and encourages others to give it a try.
Other Fantastic Vegan Recipes:
- Vegan Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
- Vegan Strawberries and Cream Overnight Oats
- Crispy Zucchini Black Bean Tacos
- Simple Vegan Dill Pesto
Vegan Kale Caesar Pasta with Crispy Chickpeas
- Small or Medium Bowl
- Blender or Food Processor
- Sheet Pan
- parchment paper
- Large Pot
- 8 oz long-cut pasta (such as spaghetti, linguine, or fettuccine)
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- ¾ tsp sea salt divided (plus more for pasta water)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
- 1 bunch kale stems removed and roughly chopped
- 2 cloves garlic peeled and minced
- parmesan or plant-based parmesan for serving
For the Caesar Pasta Sauce:
- ¾ cup raw unsalted cashews soaked in water for 6-8 hours
- 2 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 tbsp capers
- 1 tbsp caper brine
- ¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- ½-¾ cup reserved pasta water (plus more as needed) I like to place a glass measuring cup underneath my colander when draining my pasta so it catches the pasta water!
- Soak your cashews ahead of time! Place them in a bowl with room temperature water for 6-8 hours OR in boiling water for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Add chickpeas, 1 tbsp of olive oil, ¼ tsp of sea salt, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper, and give everything a toss. Bake for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring well-salted water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving around 1 cup of pasta water, and set aside.
- While your pasta water is boiling and the chickpeas are baking, massage the kale with the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp sea salt, and minced garlic. Remove the chickpeas from the oven after their 15 minutes are up and add the massaged kale to the baking sheet along with the chickpeas and place everything back in the oven for 10 more minutes.
- Once the pasta has been drained and water reserved, add all Caesar sauce ingredients to a high-powered blender or food processor and blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until everything is well-combined.
- Place pasta and caesar sauce in a large pot or bowl and toss until well-combined, adding more reserved pasta water as needed to make sure everything is super creamy. Serve in bowls and top with crispy chickpeas, roasted kale, and parmesan. Enjoy!
Photography by Hope Agresti