Caesar’s final words as he was being assassinated by Brutus were “et tu, Brute”, loosely translated to mean Brutus…dude, I thought we were friends. I can almost imagine my last Caesar salad, which was eaten some 10-15 years ago, coming to life to utter something similar as I shuv’d it aside in favor of beets, goat cheese and butter lettuce with champagne viniagrette. I simply lost heart for the heavy, mayo-ee, overdressed, versions that were rumored to be ‘the healthy choice’ during my college days. Nothing personal, Ceaz.
Flash forward to two weeks ago when the Mr. and I stopped for lunch at our local Italian spot. He was in the mood to share a Caesar salad and I couldn’t make up my mind. Raw egg isn’t part of the pregnancy program so I continued oggling the pizzas when our server let us know that the dressing was vegan, made without egg or cream or small, briney fish. We ordered the Caesar.
And it was out of this world!. Not at all the heavy, mayo-drenched thing that I remembered but bright, light, tangy and delicious. I came home and neurotically began my research and after a couple of attempts and tweaks, well…I’m back if you’ll have me, Caesar.
Yesterday, while most red-blooded, American sports fans were watching football, our eyes were glued to the Pe’ahi big wave surf challenge. If you haven’t caught these competitions, they’re completely captivating. Mostly, because it’s hard to comprehend the kind of fearlessness that it takes to dive into the belly of these monstrous waves over and over again, and they are having so much fun doing it. So, we watched surfing, roasted a chicken and threw together this ‘what’s old is new again’ salad. It was a the perfect Sunday feast, hearty, totally satisfying and it left us feeling good in our bods, not heavy or bloated.
As with most amazing cream and cheese substitutes, this dressing starts with cashews and ends with lots of salty, savory bits like mustard, capers and worcestershire. I’ve made this salad with both parmesan and vegan parmesan (recipe below) and really can’t tell the difference so either will work just fine.
The one thing that I willl put my food down on is the homemade croutons. The crunchy exo-crust and warm and chewy innards play a pretty significant role in this salad. That is, if they make it to the party. Not nibbling on them straight out of the oven is virtually impossible.
So, if you’re like me and have Brutus’d the ole Caesar, I encourage you to give this crispy, tangtastic, classic another chance. Happy Monday!
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for a minimum of 3 hours
- ⅓ cup water
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1½ tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 2-3 medium sized garlic cloves
- 1½ tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp capers
- ½ tsp salt and pepper
- ½ large head of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 2 cups of a dark leafy green like dino kale or spinach, roughly chopped
- ½ cup + a few tablespoons parmesan cheese (or vegan parmesan, recipe below)
- ½ loaf of your favorite bread, cut into large cubes (see notes)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Start by preparing the crutons, preheat oven to 400°.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine olive oil and cubes of bread, salt and pepper liberally.
- Spread cubes of bread onto cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes.
- Stir croutons well and return to the oven for another 7-10 minutes, until golden brown.
- Remove croutons and set aside while you prepare the salad.
- Add all dressing ingredients to blender and blend well. Set aside.
- Chop romaine and your choice of either spinach or kale.
- Assemble the salad by dressing the greens starting with ½ of the dressing and adding a tablespoon until the salad is fully dressed (being careful not to over-dress).
- Sprinkle with ½ cup of your preferred parmesan, toss thoroughly.
- Add croutons and toss to combine.
- Sprinkle with remaining parmesan and serve.
- ½ cup cashews (you can also use walnuts here)
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp salt
- Add all ingredients to food processor or high speed blender (I use a Vitamix).
- Blend until it crumbly, mealy consistency is achieved. Be careful not to over blend/process as the nuts will release their oils and you'll start to make nut butter.
- Add to airtight container, parmesan will keep for 5-7 days.