This vegan Caesar salad is kind to sea creatures and only takes a few minutes to whip together.
When I was growing up, the salads served at my parents’ house were — I’ll be generous — lacking in imagination. I was pretty sure I hated salad. It wasn’t until college that I was exposed to the zesty arugula, grated veggies, chunks of avocado, fresh herbs, raisins, and toasted nuts that grace my salads today. But at 13, having forced down all the ranch-dressing-covered wilted iceberg I could stomach, the discovery of Caesar salad blew my lettuce-hating brain right open.
Of course, traditional Caesar salads contain both dairy and dead animals, so after over a decade of it being off the menu, I was delighted to find two different versions of Caesar salad dressing in an older vegan cookbook, Vegan Vittles* (which actually got this recipe from Connecticut’s very own It’s Only Natural). I tweaked said recipe to my tastes and have fallen in love with Caesar salad all over again. It’s creamy and crunchy, salty and tangy, and it doesn’t mandate the untimely death of tiny fish.
I often hear friends complaining about having a glut of romaine in their CSAs this time of year, so I hope you can all hear me when I say: I wish I had your problem! Sure, you might not drool over it the same way you do micro greens, but it isn’t difficult to make romaine’s better qualities shine. Lettuce-haters, send your locally grown romaine my way; I would be more than happy to kill a head of it with this recipe. And I promise to save you some croutons.
- 2 c good bread (it's OK if it's stale!)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- salt, to taste
- 1.5 c silken tofu
- 15 green olives, pitted
- ¼ c water
- 3 Tbsp toasted nori flakes
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ Tbsp mustard
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ c olive oil
- 1 head romaine lettuce, torn
- nutritional yeast, to taste
- toasted nori flakes, to taste
- For croutons, slice bread into 2" cubes.
- Heat olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
- When oil is hot, add bread cubes to pan in a single layer (depending on the size of your pan, you may have to do two rounds).
- When bread cubes are golden on the bottom, flip them and toast the other side.
- Season with salt, transfer to a plate or cookie sheet, and set aside to cool.
- For the dressing, place tofu, olives, water, nori, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic, pepper, and salt in a blender.
- Blend until mixture is smooth.
- With blender running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until incorporated.
- To assemble, toss romaine and dressing together in a large salad bowl until lettuce is well-coated.
- Add additional nutritional yeast and nori flakes for texture if desired.
- Top with croutons and serve.
* I cannot possibly give enough credit and praise to this cookbook, which contains a ton of important recipes that current-day vegan bloggers have only recently discovered and identified as groundbreaking — cashew-based nog, “doughnut muffins,” baked seitan, eggless omelets, tofu ricotta — they had it all down way back in 1996! And as if that weren’t enough, it was also inspired by the non-human residents of Farm Sanctuary, a place near and dear to my heart.