So for those who aren't yet super well-versed in all things vegan, let's answer the obvious question: what's not vegan about traditional Caesar salad? Barring bacon bits, it seems pretty friendly, but the truth is that caesar salad dressing is decidedly un-vegan. Even if you don't put in egg to emulsify the dressing (which usually you would), you have the anchovies to worry about. Yes, you heard me right: traditionally, there are anchovies in Caesar salad dressing, which is what gives it its distinctive flavour. And, sadly, anchovies are not on the vegan menu.
Then, of course, there's the parmesan. The salty tang of it just totally says that this is a good Caesar, and without it, I can't help but feel like it's just a glorified garden salad.
So here you have it: the vegan version of this classic salad, facilitated by my friends, Emily and Meaggy, who came over one day to help me give this a whirl, and who made the day doubly enjoyable! (Special thanks to Emily for taking all the photos for today's post!)
Definitely the easiest (and probably the most rewarding) part is making the croutons. We're talking about something that takes 10 minutes, start to finish, and it will take you about 10 minutes to demolish the croutons if you don't hide them. No, seriously. They're like crack.
|These croutons were made from whole-grain bread, but you can use any kind of light, European-style bread. Don't use Wonder Bread. Trust me, that won't turn out well for you.|
Then we moved on to the parmesan. I ended up getting the idea from Madison to use cashews and nutritional yeast, which turned out pretty well. It was really, really salty for my tastes, though, so I cut the salt by quite a bit. (Revised version is below with the recipe.) It even looks like parmesan, which is awesome, and makes me feel like I'm really eating cheese...even though I'm not.
|This vegan parmesan is super tasty, with a cheesy hint and a salty tang, just like real parmesan.|
|This dressing is as easy as it is delicious. No, seriously, it tastes amazing.|
|We're pretty sure that Meaggy's favourite part was getting up to her elbows in tossing. First the croutons, and then the salad, she was our tosser extraordinaire!|
Then we plated the salad, sprinkled with some parmesan, and then added a generous helping of croutons...largely because we'd already been snacking on them and the girls knew just how tasty they were.
And the final step? To dig in.
|Tasty, vegan Caesar isn't so hard to make at home!|
Vegan Caesar salad
Makes 4 generous servings
For the croutons:
4 thick slices European-style bread (vegan)
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
For the "parmesan":
1/2 cup raw, unsalted nuts (I used cashews)
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the dressing:
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1 head romaine lettuce
Preheat the oven to 425°F.
To make the croutons, cut the bread into bite-sized cubes. In a large mixing bowl, toss the bread with the olive oil and garlic. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until golden brown and crispy. Set aside.
To make the parmesan, place the cashews, nutritional yeast and salt in the food processor and process to a powder. Set aside.
To make the dressing, add lemon juice and vinegar to the bowl of the food processor, along with the salt, pepper, garlic and mustard. Process until very smooth. With the blade turning, slowly add the oil through the chute on the top of the machine, until the oil is all blended in and the mixture thickens a little.
To assemble the salad, wash lettuce and dry leaves as best you can. Tear or chop into bite-sized pieces. Toss with enough dressing to coat the leaves, then serve with croutons and parmesan sprinkled over each plate of salad. Enjoy!