Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Caesar Salad

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veganCaesarsalad-2905

My dad is coming to visit this week. This means two very important things are on my “what to make dad” menu. 1) Chili, always and 2) Caesar salad. Those are essential food groups for the guy. Anything else is icing on the cake. Plus, I always welcome the opportunity to use my huge bamboo salad bowl that we received as a wedding gift from our friends. When this bowl comes out, it’s something special!

Even though Caesar salad isn’t traditional holiday fare, I totally think you can serve it as part of a holiday menu. I love an unexpected twist on the table personally. Do you have any non-traditional dishes that are go-to’s for your family? My mother-in-law used to always serve Caesar salad as part of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and I swear it was one of the things that went the fastest, next to her famous croquettes. And my dad, well…let’s just say his famous Caesar salad and chili make an appearance at every Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve gathering.

I’ve made a couple vegan Caesar salad recipes over the years (one of which is in my cookbook), but I think this version is my best rendition yet. Recipes are always works in progress for me and I find each time I make it, I’m always trying new things. In addition to a new dressing, I also added roasted chickpea croutons and a nut and seed based parmesan cheese. I used a blend of traditional romaine lettuce with non-traditional Lacinato kale (destemmed of course). This way you have the classic flavour of romaine with the nutritional boost of the kale, without scaring anyone away (ahem, dad). I love the two tone greens in the bowl too. It’s a great make ahead salad because you can prep everything the day before (except for the roasted chickpeas) and then just mix it up the day of your event!

The first time I made this dressing, I actually used double the quantities you’ll see in the recipe below. However, I found that it made way too much (I had half leftover after mixing the salad), so I cut the dressing ingredients in half and it still worked out fine in the blender. I’m just mentioning this in case you are wondering about making a larger batch for a crowd – this dressing doubles beautifully!

I had a lot of fun with the photoshoot for this recipe, so I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking.

And in case I’m not back again this week, I’d like to wish my American readers a lovely Thanksgiving! Thank you for coming here each week and eagerly trying out so many of the recipes I share. If you’re looking for my favourite Thanksgiving recipes, you can find them here. Also check out my 3 Course Step-by-Step Vegan and Gluten-Free Holiday Menu.

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Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Caesar Salad

Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, no bake/raw, refined sugar-free

By

This is a delicious, creamy vegan Caesar salad that will wow any crowd! Everyone who’s tried it goes absolutely nuts over it, and it’s my most popular salad recipe on the blog. To take it over the top, I garnish the salad with a generous amount of crunchy Roasted Chickpea Croutons and a delectable Nut and Seed Parmesan Cheese for the ultimate vegan Caesar salad. The dressing recipe easily doubles for a larger group and it’ll keep in the fridge in a sealed container for a few days so you can make it in advance. Dressing adapted from My Vega.

Yield
5-6 small bowls
Prep Time
Cook time

Ingredients:

For the Roasted Chickpea Croutons:
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas (or 1 1/2 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
For the Caesar Dressing (makes 3/4-1 cup):
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 small garlic clove (you can add another if you like it super potent)
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce (I use Wizard's gluten-free brand)
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt and pepper, or to taste
For the Nut and Seed Parmesan Cheese:
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons hulled hemp seeds
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • fine grain sea salt, to taste
For the lettuce:
  • 1 small/medium bunch lacinato kale, destemmed (5 cups chopped)
  • 2 small heads romaine lettuce (10 cups chopped)

Directions:

  1. Soak cashews in a bowl of water overnight, or for at least a few hours. Drain and rinse.
  2. Roast chickpea croutons: Preheat oven to 400°F. Drain and rinse chickpeas. Place chickpeas in a tea towel and rub dry (it's okay if some skins fall off). Place onto large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle on oil and roll around to coat. Sprinkle on the garlic powder, salt, and optional cayenne. Toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes at 400°F, then gently roll the chickpeas around in the baking sheet. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden. They will firm up as they cool.
  3. 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.
  4. Prepare the Parmesan cheese: Add cashews and garlic into a mini 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.
  5. Prepare the lettuce: Destem 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.
  6. Assemble: Add dressing onto lettuce and toss until fully coated. Season with a pinch of salt and mix again. Now sprinkle on the roasted chickpeas and the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Tips:

  • Be sure to check the label to ensure your Worcestershire Sauce is gluten-free (if necessary) as not many are. I use Wizard`s Gluten-Free Organic Worcestershire Sauce.
  • The dressing thickens when chilled, so be sure to leave it at room temperature to soften before using.

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

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Francesca April 20, 2017
Recipe Rating:

I would eat this every day if I could! This is my favorite salad of all time, I’ve probably made it 10 times this past year. Thank you!

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janine April 16, 2017
Recipe Rating:

I made this today for Easter lunch and just tried it and it is VERY good. All the components are great. Dressing is delicious and love the crunchy chickpeas! I only changed one thing, instead of Worchester sauce (didn’t have) I used soy sauce. Still came out great. I’m excited to take it to lunch and know everyone will love it as much as I do!

Thank you for the great recipe!!

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Angela Liddon April 17, 2017

Thanks for sharing, Janine! It’s great to hear the soy sauce worked out so well as a swap. Hope you had a happy Easter!

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NightSky April 8, 2017

I go to comment/review sections to see if people have actually tried a recipe or a product to see if it’s worth making or buying. But 99.9% time I get ppl saying, “oh that looks great and I can’t wait to try it”, or “I’m so excited to try this”, or “thank you for posting this blog” which is worthless to say the least….it’s really frustrating. Perhaps there is should be a separate section for ppl who actually tried and bought a product/recipe and another for ppl who are just “excited” about making them.

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Sue June 20, 2017

I couldn’t agree more! Check out Minimalist Baker. After her (vegan!) recipes the comment section has 3 options – All comments; I made this; Questions – and only the folks who have made it can rate it.
My favorite recipe is her Coconut Oil Blueberry Scones (I omit the rosemary)
https://minimalistbaker.com/coconut-oil-blueberry-scones-with-rosemary/

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casey bird April 6, 2017

Hi guys anyone know the calorie count of this dish? Just curious

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Angela Liddon April 12, 2017

Hey Casey, You can the find nutritional information in this pdf, made up for the recipe as it appears in my new Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook: http://cdn.ohsheglows.com/docs/OhSheGlows_Every_Day_Nutrition_Info.pdf. It should be comparable to the recipe as it appears on the blog (though I believe it may not include the “cheese”). Hope this helps!

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Jessica April 4, 2017

I am so looking forward to trying this recipe!! do you have any nutritional information for each of the parts (dressing, nut/seed cheese and the croutons?) thanks so much

Reply

Angela Liddon April 12, 2017

Hey Jessica, You can the find nutritional information for my Crowd-Pleasing Caesar Salad (without the “cheese”, I believe) in this pdf of the nutritional info from my new Oh She Glows Every Day cookbook: http://cdn.ohsheglows.com/docs/OhSheGlows_Every_Day_Nutrition_Info.pdf. I hope this helps, and that you enjoy the recipe when you get around to making it :)

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Kathryn March 27, 2017
Recipe Rating:

I am SO happy that I found this recipe! I thought I would have to search for weeks to try and find a delicious caeser dressing recipe. I absolutely love this dressing. I’ve been using this recipe for a few months now and am finally printing it out so I stop googling it every time I need it! I omit the chickpea croutons and the capers as well. Congratulations on creating this because it is perfect! :) :)

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Angela Liddon March 28, 2017

Thank you for the kind words, Kathryn! I’m thrilled you found this recipe and love it so much.

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Kristen March 27, 2017

Wow! This salad is crazy good. Even my omni picky family agrees. My 12 yo and I were fighting over the left over dressing.

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Carissa March 23, 2017
Recipe Rating:

Delicious! Even my cheese loving non-vegan husband thought this was better than traditional caesar salad. It was filling enough for a meal when we added some nice slices of garlic toast on the side :)

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Bethany February 20, 2017
Recipe Rating:

I had two carnivores coming for dinner – one LIVES on dairy :) I could not figure out what to make for a side…this was AMAZING! They loved it, would never have none if I didn’t tell them. Thank you…this will be a go to for me!!

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Lydia February 12, 2017

Hello there :)

I loved this recipe and can’t get enough of it. Just wondering if it can be frozen?

Thanks!

Reply

Angela Liddon March 15, 2017

Hey Lydia, As a whole dish, this is best served immediately, but I think some readers may have tried freezing the dressing on its own with some success (though I haven’t tried it myself). I’d suggesting reading back through some of the comments to check for tips & tricks on that!

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Hannah January 26, 2017
Recipe Rating:

Hi Angela,

Okay, so I have both your books and cook out of them all the time. Your recipes are amazing. This caesar dressing, though… It was a bit tasteless. I had to at least double (sometimes triple) each of the flavouring ingredients to get some bite out of it!

Did I maybe use the wrong capers? I bought Non-Pareil, not knowing the difference, and perhaps they’re milder in flavour.

Anyway, thanks for all the other amazing recipes you post.

Reply

Karlyn January 22, 2017
Recipe Rating:

I am obsessed with this salad! I’ve eaten it 6 times in the past week. I will go as far as to say that not only is it the best Caesar Salad I’ve ever had, it’s the best salad I’ve ever had. I’ll be making this over and over again! Thanks for this wonderful recipe!

Reply

Angela Liddon January 23, 2017

Thanks so much for your kind words, Karlyn! I’m so, so happy you love this recipe, especially as it’s one of our absolute faves, too. :)

Reply

MishMac January 19, 2017
Recipe Rating:

SO delicious! Yet another OSG hit(-: A crowd-pleaser for a dinner party last night.

Reply

Sam Sas January 17, 2017

Hi Angela!
I am so excited to make this recipe. I had a couple gal-pals rave about it, so now I have to try it. I have a question for you though before I make it tomorrow night for my boyfriend.
Is the 1/4 cup of water that you indicate for the dressing intended to be put in the blender, or is that the amount of water to soak the cashews in?
Thank you so much!
-Sam

Reply

Bernadette January 6, 2017

Hi Angela,

Made this last night … everyone loved it! One question: the roasted chickpeas were plenty crunchy when I took them out of the oven. Once cooled, I put them in a glass dish with a snap-on lid .. left them on the counter. All this the day before I served it.
Next day, they were soft .. almost rubbery, or chewy. I expected them to stay crunchy. Did I do something wrong?

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