This Vegan Caesar Salad Will Be Your New Go-To

Photo: Courtesy of The Crunchy Radish.
Caesar salad is often known for its cheesy, garlicky, creamy dressing and its leafy, watery greens. It's not usually known for is its nutritional attributes. Traditional Caesar salad dressing contains anchovies, raw egg yolk, and Parm: tasty, but not necessarily virtuous. For a vegan and health-fortified version, I made a few swaps and modifications to add nutrient density to a classic dish without sacrificing its palatability and mass appeal. 

The anchovies in traditional Caesar dressing add an umami quality. White miso paste delivers a similar savory and salty taste with the added benefits of being a fermented food. Capers also lend a briny flavor note, and soaked cashews serve as the creamy, dreamy foundation. In order to add nutritional mileage to the salad, shredded Brussels sprouts and Lacinato kale are partnered with crisp hearts of romaine to create a trifecta of greens rich in fiber, vitamin K, and vitamin C.

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Big hunks of toasted white bread traditionally serve as croutons in your everyday Caesar. Here, crispy roasted chickpeas provide crunch, flavor, and texture along with a dose of plant-based protein. Think you'll miss the finishing touch of a generous sprinkling of Parm? Think again: Nutritional yeast and hemp seeds emulate the look and taste of cheese, minus the sodium and animal origin.

For a spin on the salad, throw the dressed greens in a whole-grain, brown-rice, or nori-paper wrap with avocado and thinly sliced cucumber, or add it to a bowl with quinoa and roasted veggies.

Photo: Courtesy of The Crunchy Radish.
Vegan Caesar Salad 
Makes 3-4 entrée-sized salads

For the dressing
1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours and drained
Juice of 5 lemons
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup filtered water
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp white miso paste
2 tsp capers

For the chickpea croutons
1 BPA-free can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and dried
1/4 tsp paprika or cayenne pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of sea salt 

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For the greens
1 bunch of Lacinato kale, thinly sliced, bottom stems discarded
1/2 lb Brussels sprouts
2 hearts of romaine, chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of sea salt

Garnishes (optional)
Hemp seeds
Nutritional Yeast       

Photo: Courtesy of The Crunchy Radish.
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, paprika (or cayenne pepper), garlic powder, and sea salt. Add chickpeas and coat well with the spice mixture. Spread chickpeas out evenly on pan and roast 15 to 20 minutes or until chickpeas are crispy. Toss halfway through cooking. 

2. While the chickpeas cook, combine all the ingredients for the salad dressing in a high speed blender until smooth and creamy. Taste and make adjustments if needed. Set aside. 

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3. To shred the Brussels sprouts, slice off the ends and remove any tough, brown colored, or dried-out outer leaves. Slice each Brussels sprout in half from top to bottom. Turn each Brussels sprout cut-side down and shred by slicing crosswise from root to top. Tease apart layers and place in a big salad bowl. 

4. (Optional) Add the sliced kale to the Brussels sprouts. Pour in the juice of 1 lemon and a pinch of sea salt. Using your hands, massage the greens for 2 minutes in order to soften the leaves.

5. Add romaine to the kale and Brussels sprouts and pour in the salad dressing. Toss well to fully coat all the greens. 

6. Top with chickpeas and a sprinkling of hemp seeds and nutritional yeast, if desired.

Next:  A Fun Way To Eat Your Vegetables

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