The best vegan Caesar salad EVER

I’ve never really been a fan of the limp and plain garden salad.  Because of this, in pre-vegan/pre-WFPB days, I would usually order a caesar salad if it were an option: more flavor, more cheese, more texture.

Since changing to a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet, I’ve only strayed a few times to have a wee bit of caesar salad once in a while for the sake of nostalgia.  It’s one of those things my husband and I have missed in regards to salads…but didn’t really think much of until I finally ran into Angela Liddon’s recipe on Oh She Glows.
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I saw it, the hubs and I started salivating, I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, so I instantly set out making it.

It was kind of late in the evening to be eating and there was a bit of prep work and cooking time (roasting chickpeas!), but we did it anyway.  And it was so worth it.

caesar2hcaesar3h caesar4hThe dressing that Angela came up with is inspired.  The thought of getting lactino kale mixed into the greens means increased nutrition. Using roasted chickpeas as croutons is an ingenious idea. The parmesan cheese? You really don’t miss it.

This salad is a must! Even though it was close to 10 o’clock at night, we could not stop eating it. We’ve served it to omnivores who go back for seconds. And thirds.

SO GOOD.
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Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Caesar Salad

By Angela Liddon. Serves 5-6 people as a side, slight adaptations on original recipe

INGREDIENTS:

Roasted chickpea croutons:

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (or 1.5-2 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Sprinkle of cayenne, optional (if you like it spicy)

Dressing (makes 3/4 to 1 cup):

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (soaking unnecessary with a high speed blender like Vitamix or Blentec)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • Less fat option #1 = 1 tbsp evoo + 1 tbsp water
    • Even less fat option #2 = 2 tbsp water + a couple dashes of guar/xanthan gum + 1/4 tsp ground flax seed
  • 1 small garlic clove (you can add another if you like it super potent)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt and pepper, or to taste

Nut and seed parmesan cheese (makes 1/2 cup):

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds (*if you don’t have this, you can sub with more cashews)
  • 2 tablespoons hulled hemp seeds (*if you don’t have this, you can sub with more cashews)
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Fine grain sea salt, to taste

Lettuce:

  • 1 small/medium bunch Lacinato kale, destemmed (5 cups chopped)
  • 2 small heads romaine lettuce (10 cups chopped)

DIRECTIONS:

Soak cashews in a bowl of water overnight, or for at least a few hours; drain and rinse.

Roast chickpea croutons: Preheat oven to 400 deg F. Drain (keep that aquafaba!) and rinse chickpeas. Place chickpeas in a tea towel and rub them dry. Place onto parchment paper lined (or similar) large rimmed baking sheet. If using, drizzle on oil (or lightly spray with olive oil) and roll around to coat. Sprinkle on the garlic powder and salt and toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes at 400 degrees F, then gently roll the chickpeas around in the baking sheet, then roast for another 10-15 minutes, until lightly golden. They will firm up as they cool.

Prepare the dressing: Add the cashews and all other dressing ingredients (except salt) into a high speed blender, and blend on high until the dressing is super smooth. You can add a splash of water if necessary to get it blending. Add salt to taste and adjust other seasonings, if desired. Set aside.

Prepare the parmesan cheese: Add cashews into a food processor and process until finely chopped. Now add in the rest of the ingredients and pulse until the mixture is combined. Salt to taste.

Prepare the lettuce: De-stem the kale and then finely chop the leaves. Wash and dry in a salad spinner. Place into extra large bowl. Chop up the romaine into bite-sized pieces. Rinse and then spin dry. Place into bowl along with kale. You should have roughly 5 cups chopped kale and 10 cups chopped romaine.

Assemble: Add dressing onto lettuce and toss until fully coated. Now sprinkle on the roasted chickpeas and the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Recipe Notes:

  • I would caution against using highly uniform packs of romaine lettuce – you know, like that bulk pack you can get at Costco. The conventionally grown kind & mass produced kind doesn’t seem to stay very crisp and turns quite soggy after a single night in the refrigerator. (If it’s romaine from your own garden, that’s different!)
  • If I decide to use olive oil when roasting the chickpeas, it involved merely a light spray. Usually I omit it and don’t miss it at all.
  • Don’t have a salad spinner? I’ve heard of people using a net laundry bag or large towel to put the greens in, grab the ends tightly, and whirl it around real fast (think: lasso, yo-yo). Might want to do it outside in case something slips or you don’t want water drops to fly everywhere!
  • If you don’t manage to eat everything the first day, yes, it does get slightly soggy after a night in the fridge but the taste is so good that you highly likely won’t care.

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