Meatless Monday Inspiration: Vegan Caesar Anyone?
Caesar salads have always felt like the junk food of the salad world, am I right? From the super creamy mayo dressing to the croutons and bacon bits (a delicious Canadian tradition I believe) it’s more like a vehicle for a heart attack. Yet as a longtime vegetarian in a time before that was widespread, it was an easy go-to for me in most restaurants. Hold the bacon, of course.
With time though, and with my ongoing omnivore’s dilemna (eggs or no eggs, meat or no meat, no fish, wait maybe a bit of fish, or nothing, or lately a bit of everything…) I’ve come to develop a recipe that is both healthier and which can be made vegan or vegetarian in a snap—to very delicious results.
Base Dressing (this should be enough for a small head of romaine):
—1 tbsp dijon
—1 tbsp Vegenaise (try the new soy-free one!)
—Juice of half a lemon
—1 tsp of caper brine (and capers if you like them)
—2 tbsp olive oil
—lots of pepper (wait to salt because of caper juice and also if you add parm, you may not need it)
—a clove of crushed garlic
—a small splash of Tobasco (optional but really adds something, even if you’re not a spice person)
For extra umami and some protein I like to add about a teaspoon or so of nutritional yeast right into the dressing and then sometimes more on top. Toasted pine nuts can also help make this salad into a bit more of a meal (especially with the croutons). This Parma stuff, that is made with walnuts, nutrional yeast and various seasonings is also pretty darn good.
Nothing really beats the taste of a high-quality parmesan, whether you prefer it shaved or finely grated. I like both, so I sometimes add a little grated right into the dressing (so that it’s sure to coat) and then some bigger shaved chunks too. My husband likes putting feta to his caesar—a super weird but super yummy choice for you cheese lovers out there (again if you’re making this salad into a meal, that bulks it up a bit).
I often make this salad sans croutons but boy does it taste good when I go the extra mile. I’ll use whatever bread is around (including Ezekiel or something gluten-free depending on company), chop it into little cubes, throw some olive oil, butter (or a combo) in a pan with another clove of crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Then toss the bread in there making sure it’s coated, and cook on medium to low heat for 10-15 minutes. The trick is cooking the bread long enough to let it get crunchy, without burning it.
Toss it all together (don’t over-toss though, romaine gets soggy), and that’s it—bon appetit!