OK. I am going to start this recipe with a disclaimer that I always spell “caesar” wrong. I just keep screwing up the a’s and the e’s. I don’t know why. So if the Happy Veggie proofreading team (Mr Veggie and my mom) weren’t here, I’d have totally messed it up throughout the entire post. My first attempt at a photo with a text overlay (y’know, the ones I make for Pinterest purposes) had it spelled wrong. That’s super embarrassing. In fact, it’s spelled wrong all through my last caesar recipe. I really ought to get around to fixing that.
Now. That said, let’s move on.
This is a staple recipe in Veggie HQ and I suspect it always will be.
Creamy salad dressings are inevitably delicious. Duh. But there is always someone who will pipe up at the dinner table to remind you that a decadent dressing can make a salad less healthy than a cheeseburger or whatever.
HA. Not this one! This caesar salad dressing is packed with plant based nutrients. Instead of egg yolk and cheese, this dressing gets it’s creaminess from cashew and pine nuts, and flavor from fresh lemon, garlic, capers and miso. There is no ingredient here that I feel bad about using. And yet it tastes like it’s bad for you!
Even if, like us, you’re not vegan, you can probably benefit from swapping some of your animal fats for plant based ones, to keep things varied in your diet. This is an excellent starting point.
To up the star quality, I’ve added avocado (every veggie’s BFF) and garlic croutons, home made by toasting a fresh baguette with some olive oil and garlic. So much creaminess. So much garlic. So much joy.
Have you noticed that my photos are a little inconsistent here? That there are two different bowls of salad being featured depending on which photo you’re looking at? Well. Such is the joy of food blogging. I spent ages preparing and then photographing the bowl of salad you see directly above this paragraph.
I like how the scene is all nicely set up. Cute, right? And the bowl of salad has the right mix of lettuce, avocado, croutons, and a few extra drops of dressing on display. Just so.
Now, you see all the blurry salad that is still in the big salad bowl, and the not-yet-gutted avocado half just to one side? That was Mr. Veggie’s portion, and he had to patiently wait for me to finish my photos before I would dish it up for him and let him eat it.
When that moment finally came… his bowl looked so much more appetizing than the one I had lovingly prepared for the photo shoot.
So I refused to hand it over. Sorry, Mr. Your dinner is my hostage once more. Camera back on. Snap, snap, snap.
See? More sauce, more avocado, more mess, more yum. I guess that sometimes you can over-think and over-plan your food photos, and your real-life “OMG feed me now” portion may look more appetizing than your perfectly styled one.
I pondered that for a minute, and then finally allowed him to eat it. He was very grateful.
Vegan Caesar Salad with Avocado and Garlic Croutons
- 2 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 2 avocados
For the croutons
- Half a baguette, cut into large chunks
- 4 cloves garlic
- extra virgin olive oil
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup cashews
- ⅛ cup pine nuts
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tsps capers
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp white miso
- ½ tsp dijon mustard
- ½ tsp agave nectar
- 2 Tblsps extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup water
- A few grinds of sea salt
- To make the croutons
- Lightly brush the chunks of baguette with olive oil and spread over a baking tray
- Grill under a medium heat until toasted on the top
- Flip over and brush more olive oil on the other side, and sprinkle crushed garlic on top
- Put back under the grill until browned and toasted
- To make the dressing
- Combine all ingredients in a tall jug and use a hand blender to puree.
- Assemble the salad
- Toss all of the ingredients together in a large bowl, and dig in! Enjoy!
This recipe is a very close adaptation from the “living caesar” in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton. This is one of my favourite cookbooks, and the one that taught me to use nuts for creaminess in sauces and dressings. Life changing stuff! There are a few minor differences with my version of this dressing but the big one is in how we account for the lack of anchovies. Dreena’s recipe calls for kelp granules, but I was worried I wouldn’t get along with the flavour because I have a strong dislike of all things seaweed-y (even tiny bits in miso soup make me gag!). Instead, I’ve added a big dose of capers to the mix. I always have capers in the fridge so this made sense for me, and the overall taste is perfect for me.