Although it’s a false notion that all vegans eat is salad, I do love a good salad fairly regularly. Unfortunately, my salad routine has gotten pretty boring over the years: romaine lettuce, cucumber slices or whatever’s fresh from the garden, maybe a few beans, and oil and vinegar dressing. Delicious in its own way, but not very exciting after a while. It was high time to spice up my salad selection when I decided to try Allison’s Caesar. Just the idea of Caesar salad, with all its creamy garlic-y sauce, crispy lettuce, and salty, crunchy croutons makes my taste buds perk up. Allison uses miso instead of mayo as the dressing’s base, and adds a few nori flakes to mimic the fishy flavor of anchovies.
Hearty and delicious, this salad could easily be a meal in its own right and often is for Allison – she adds home-cooked garbanzo beans.
Vegan Caesar Salad
1/2 cup safflower oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 large clove garlic, minced and divided
4 sliced bread, cubed
2 tablespoons light miso
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon capers
1 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon toasted nori flakes
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 large head romaine lettuce, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a sheet pan with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons safflower oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, paprika, and half the garlic. Add bread, toss until completely coated, and spread onto sheet pan. Bake for 7 minutes, stir, and then bake for 5 more minutes. Set aside.
2. In a blender, process remaining 6 tablespoons safflower oil, remaining salt, remaining garlic, miso, olive oil, water, vinegar, lemon juice, capers, nutritional yeast, nori, mustard, black pepper, and white pepper until smooth.
3. In a large bowl, add lettuce and toss with 3/4 of the dressing until well coated. Add more dressing if desired. Sprinkle in croutons and toss again. Serve immediately and garnish with black pepper.
Nori’s not just for wrapping up sushi. In fact, Allison uses it in many of her recipes to impart a “seafood” flavor, as it does in her (Save the) Tuna Salad. If you can’t find nori flakes in the store, they’re easily made: just tear toasted nori sheets into pieces and then grind in a coffee grinder or food processor.
Don’t be alarmed by the large amount of oil and other ingredients in these photos. At our house we now make giant batches of this dressing for use on salads throughout the week. For a batch about the size of your large blender, try making 4x the recipe.
While you’re at it, you might want to make extra croutons, as well. These are seriously the best croutons I’ve ever had and would make an awesome alternate topping for French Onion Soup.