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.
Crowd-Pleasing Vegan Caesar Salad
6 small bowls
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.
For the Roasted Chickpea Croutons:
- 1 (14-ounce/398 mL) can chickpeas (or 1 1/2 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) 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 (60 mL) water
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) lemon juice
- 1/2 tablespoon (7.5 mL) Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 small garlic clove (you can add another if you like it super potent)
- 1/2 tablespoon (7.5 mL) 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 (15 mL) 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)
- Soak cashews in a bowl of water overnight, or for at least a few hours. Drain and rinse.
- Roast chickpea croutons: Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). 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 (200°C), 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Oh this is divine! Will make this tonight with kale from my garden :-)
Would it be as good if I didn’t use sesame seeds? I am intolerant :( Is there another seed I could sub in?
you could just use more hemp seed if youd like :) or another tbsp of cashews.
This looks delicious!!! I can’t wait to make it! I was in Vancouver a few weeks ago and had a similar Caesar. They made beet bacon which was to die for!! They said it was sliced thin with a mandolin and marinated in some maple syrup, a bit of liquid smoke and a quick fry. Do you have a recipe for beet bacon? I would love to know how to make it,
I’ve made coconut bacon before (its great on this salad too) but never beet – great idea!! i’ll have to try it.
in case anyone is wondering, here is the coconut bacon I made:
3/4 unsweetened large flake coconut
1/2 tablespoon coconut aminos or low-sodium tamari
1/2 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/8 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
Bake at 325F for 10 minutes, until the coconut flakes are golden. Turn on the range fan and open a window while it bakes as the smoked aroma is powerful.
Looks amazing! I love Caeser salad too, looking forward to making it. My family does have a non-traditional dish for Thanksgiving, black beans!…we’re Cuban, so a holiday meal can’t go without them. :)
This salad looks out of this world!!! I am loving this idea of coconut bacon too. I will be adding this to my arsenal as well :)
thanks! hope you like it if you try it out.
Do you know if the hemp seeds would show up in a drug test at work?
They shouldn’t. I’m not sure if it’s like poppy seeds, where you eat a bagel loaded with ’em the morning of and you test positive for opiates, so I wouldn’t recommend it the morning of a scheduled test, but it probably won’t show up. I’ve been eating hemp seeds for years, have had a few work related tests, and have had no failures.
@Angela Do you have any recommendations for replacing the cashews in the dressing? My vegetarian sister, who also happens to have the same name as you :), is very allergic to tree nuts. I was thinking maybe a thinner chickpea and seed mixture, sort of like a slightly runny hummus, but my concern with that would be the taste. I still want to feel like I’m eating a Caesar salad, not a hummus salad. Any input would be highly appreciated before I start experimenting. Before I go, I just want to say that you are fantastic. You have so many creative ideas and well thought out and clearly written recipes. If I need an idea for vegan menu items, this blog is the first place I check. You are an inspiration.
I have a tree nut allergy myself, and I usually sub sunflower seeds wherever cashews are called for. Their flavour is not overpowering so they tend to work pretty well.
No, THC is only present in the flowers of the hemp plant.
Eeeeek!! I can’t WAIT to make this with coconut bacon! What a wonderful suggestion for an addition. Thanks Angela!
As much as I love your bamboo salad bowl, I’m loving those roasted chickpea croutons even more. What a great idea! This Caesar salad is bursting with both flavor and nutrition. And the dressing looks fantastic too. No doubt, you’re dad loves this. I’ll have to search your site for a Peanut Butter pie for my dad, his favorite. Although he loves chili too =)
This salad looks delicious and like the perfect addition to any holiday meal! And I am loving your gorgeous bamboo bowl! Have a wonderful visit with your Dad – isn’t it the best when family comes to visit? :)
Oh this looks so rich and savory! I love salads but I haven’t been eating them lately since it’s winter. This looks hearty enough to fill me up and not leaving me wanting to nibble more.
Holy smokes, this looks delicious. It looks so creamy and crisp – I can’t wait to create this one!!
I love the addition of chickpeas! I’ve had one vegan caesar salad from Heirloom in Vancouver, and it’s totally sparked my love for them! Definitely can’t wait to give this a try.
This is a great-looking salad! I am going to make it for a neighbourhood potluck in December. Plus my favourite homemade cookies (crispy cacao cookies).
Thank you, Angela! I am sure my 2 kids and husband will love this salad as we often eat Caesar salad (we eat various versions of Caesar salad every 2 weeks or so).
I make myself caesar salad for dinner sometimes. I’ve made dehydrated croutons with nut milk pulp and flax seeds, but I also love the idea of using chickpeas!
Can you please share how you make the croutons with the leftover pulp. What a fantastic idea….Thanks!
Thank you!! One thing I have missed being a vegetarian is a good Cesar salad.
I will definitely try this!! Thanks again!!!
This looks incredible! I’m not a vegan, but as a vegetarian one of the things I miss most is caesar salad. I’ll hopefully be making this recipe by the end of this year. Maybe as a sort of post-Thanksgiving detox meal ;)
-E @ amie-eo.blogspot.com
This would be a great salad to add to our Thanksgiving day menu!! I can’t wait to make this!
Wow! Read my mind! I was thinking a caesar salad would be an awesome Thanksgiving side to bring to my family’s celebration!! I may just have to make this one; the one from your book is fabulous, too :) Odd thanksgiving traditions with food are the best…my family usually has something uber-cheesy, since we’re all native cheese-heads :)
Wow, This is so amazing. I love the ingrdiants and I have to cook this… heading to the market tomorrow morning… thanks for this dinner tip! Will have this wonderful meal tomorrow evening! – Kati
I love love love a good caesar salad, especially with those chickpea croutons! Is it weird I kind of want this for breakfast?! : )
Oh wow, this looks amazing! I love the addition of kale and chickpeas…need to make immediately. Hope you have a great visit with your Dad :)
Oh my gosh, I swear you read my mind (and stomach growls) sometimes! I have been craving caesar dressing for so long but have kept my cravings at bay as I feel so much better without any trace of dairy in my life. But this salad…this is happening in my kitchen as I type! Also, do I spy a glimpse of your new kitchen in these photos?! Looks beautiful from what I can see. :)
you`ll have to let me know how it goes! enjoy
I am thrilled you posted this. My husband loves ceaser salad, and I’ve made the traditional dressing from scratch. However, I have long wanted a vegan version. We’ve both enjoyed cashew-based dressings/sauces, so we will absolutely give this a try. Though I don’t know much about finding vegan worst. sauce. . . will have to look around.
Annie’s makes a vegan worcestershire sauce, if you are state side. Don’t think it’s GF though.
I love the idea of adding kale for a more nutritious and beautiful two-toned Caesar Salad! Chickpea croutons look fabulous too!
Love the use of chickpeas as croutons! I know some die-hard caesar salad lovers, so this would be great for them!
Really nice recipe en lovely pictures. Makes me hungry!
This looks wonderful and so tasty as well as filling!
Chickpea croutons are such a brilliant idea! This salad looks amazing. I can’t wait to try it!
YUMMMM!!!! My dad is also a caesar salad fanatic, and this would be a great recipe to get him to eat more nutritionally packed veggies in a way that he enjoys. I’ll have to save this for our Thanksgiving meal this week! Thanks!
Oh my! The kale mixed into the romaine, the roasted chickpeas, and the gorgeous bamboo bowl – I love them all! This sounds awesome Ange. We tend to keep dishes pretty traditional around the holidays, and whenever I have anything to do with it, the meal is very heavy on the roasted veggies and salads! Now I’ll need to add yours to the mix too. ;)
This looks super yummy, making me very hungry haha!! The chickpea croutons look amazing!
Roasted chickpea croutons!?! You are a genius! A genius, I say. I don’t have Caesar salad very often as a vegetarian, so I love having this lovely alternative. :] // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲
Any suggestion on what seed would be best to replace the cashews for a nut free version if possible?
I love this! i love the chickpea use instead of croutons!
I made this for dinner tonight and added tempeh sauted in coconut oil. I couldn’t stop sampling the dressing, it is so good. The chickpea croutons and the cashew Parmesan all work so well together. I’ll definitley make this recipe again!
This looks absolutely amazing! Definitely want to use this to impress my non-vegan friends and family :)
Wow Angela, this looks so delicious. I love it!
do you think instead of cashews you could use leftover almond pulp for the vegan parmesan cheese? Other than that this recipe looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it! Also, could you use avocado for the dressing as a nut-free alternative?
Beautiful photography (as usual)! I am making your raw pumpkin pie for thanksgiving this year. first time making it. can’t wait to give it a try.
I am completely obsessed with the nut and seed cheese on this salad. Making this asap! Pinned!
This looks so delicious! I have one question – I can’t tolerate garlic and it does appear in this recipe three times, so do you think it would suffer a lot from the omission of the garlic?
You did an amazing job with this photo shoot. All the colors. I love your countertops! What a great place to take photos… someday! I am living in Asia, and most kitchens here are not meant for family cooking. They are meant as a space for the maid to work, so are very untilitarian, and rarely have light. We did renovate our kitchen to make it a nicer space, but there wasn’t much we could do about the lack of lighting.
I can’t wait to move back to the States and have a big America kitchen again! But– we’re on the 5 year plan. It’s hard to leave the careers we have here– more opportunity!
Oh gosh; this look fantastic! I could see this being a staple salad around our house. Can’t wait to try it.
I’m all over this – stunning, healthy, and soooooo yummy looking! Easy too….love!
This looks so amazing! I now have one of my sides for my thanksgiving feast, thank you!
I am drooling over this at my desk and it’s only 9am! I love the idea of a vegan Caesar dressing, do you think it could be saved in the fridge for day to day salads?
I think it should last for at least 5 days (as it did in my fridge), possibly longer.
I will definitely be making this soon; I love salads and could eat them every day! By the way I made your crispy smashed potatoes with garlic avocado aioli last night. They were so delicious!!! I especially love that aioli; that was so tasty!
This is perfection.
This sounds absolutely fantastic!! Thought I had my holiday meal set but now I’m adding this to the menu. Thanks for the inspiration. :)
My son is allergic to cashews (and dairy… ) and a lot of your recipies call for it. Can you suggest an alternative? Thanks in advance for your help. PS Love your site!
Hi Sonya, Sometimes soaked raw sunflower seeds work, but i cant comment for all recipes. its really trial and error! Hope this helps.
Yes, I love a good Ceasar as long as it has no anchovies! That bowl is really beautiful too!
Lol wow this looks amazing!!! oh myyyy goddddd. i pinned this immediately. i don’t know when i’m gonna make this. but i WILL make it. Thanks so much for posting!! Love you Angela!
This looks amazing! Lovely photos.
Delicious-sounding recipe, nice photos, and coolest. bowl. ever.