Vegan Caesar Salad

Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe

I almost spit out my cappuccino the other day when my dad told me he was reading The China Study. I think he even said the V-word. Vegan. I'm not sure why I was so surprised, the number of people wanting to explore a (more) plant-centric and less meat-focused diet/lifestyle is expanding and many people are looking for inspiration. Enter Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (of public access television's Post Punk Kitchen) with their recently released, and much acclaimed, vegan cookbook - Veganomicon. I'm featuring their Vegan Ceasar Salad recipe today for a few reasons. First, it's a fantastic recipe from a fantastic volume of recipes - a whopping 250 of them. Second, I'd like to point you to a handful of books and studies that make compelling arguments for incorporating more vegan-centric meals into your life. Vegan in this context simply means free of animal products - eggs, meat, milk, cheese, and the like.

There's a growing chorus of accomplished scientists, researchers, and writers documenting the toll our diet (processed, meat-centric) is having on our personal health and the well-being of our environment. There's been something in the air for a while, but as I mentioned before, I knew something was really starting to shift when my dad told me he was reading The China Study. "I'm totally into it," he said. The way the research was presented and explained in the book made sense to him. It should be noted, my dad is a strict meat and potatoes guy. The China Study surveyed death rates for twelve different kinds of cancer in more than 2400 Chinese counties - the most comprehensive study of nutrition in relation to health ever conducted. Read it for yourself, but I assure you - the book puts forth a compelling argument for shift toward a diet that emphasizes vegan meals.

Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe

I also stumbled upon John Robins latest book, Healthy at 100 (recently out in paperback), and a big portion of the book is dedicated to understanding four unique cultures who produce some of the worlds healthiest and longest-living people. The communities are sprinkled around the globe yet one of the things they all have in common is a primarily vegan diet, meaning 90%+ calories coming from plant-based sources in those communities.

We've seen Dr. Ornish offer up the veg-centric Spectrum. And in a stroke of irony, the Minimalist delivered a thousand pages of vegetarian recipes while Michael Pollan offered up seven simple words - Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

So Isa and Terry's book comes at a time of increased awareness, and whether you're a carnivore looking to eat more non-meat meals, or vegetarian, or vegan, or maybe you have an allergy to dairy/eggs - many people will be able to find culinary inspiration in Veganomicon. The recipes are approachable and a good percentage of them have tight, unintimidating ingredient lists. There are plenty of twists on classics, like enchiladas, sloppy joes, baked beans, po' boys, and lasagne. Another thing I love is that they cook from a minimally processed palette of ingredients - this isn't one of those vegan books that calls for a bunch of processed fake meat products. The book incorporates helpful icons alongside each recipe noting recipes that are soy-free, low fat or reduced fat, gluten free, doable in under 45 minutes, and supermarket friendly. The index in the back also breaks the recipes out into these categories which is helpful. The book is two-color with a 16-page color photo insert.

Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe

And onto the Caesar Salad - which was great. I made it for lunch today and ended up topping it with a few heart slices of hickory smoked tofu. Don't get too hung up on the name - whether or not it is an "actual" Caesar salad shouldn't send you into a tail-spin. Naming the recipe this way helps people understand what general realm of salad we are talking about. Use the best, freshest lettuce you can get your hands on to really make this salad shine. And keep in mind, you will have plenty of the creamy, anchovy-free lemony-caper dressing leftover - I'm going to drizzle it over some grilled kabobs this evening. The only remotely time consuming aspect of this recipe was making your own croutons. If you really need to shave of some time, pick up a bag of good quality croutons and use those. I've also found that tearing your bread into bite-sized pieces instead of diligently cutting it into perfectly uniform petite cubes is much more efficient (and oddly satisfying) if you want to D.I.Y. and still save time.

A few lInks:

- Directory of vegan recipes on 101 Cookbooks.

- More recipes to test-drive from Veganomicon.

- Watch episodes of Post Punk Kitchen via Google Video

- Photos tagged Veganomicon on Flickr.

- Portland-based Jess (of Get Sconed!) was one of Veganomicons all-star recipe testers - you can see some of her photos here.

Before I log off, I recognize that many of my readers aren't vegan (or even vegetarian for that matter). And many who are. I want this site to be a place where there is room for everyone and their ideas. Figuring out where you stand in relation to food politics and personal nutrition is an individual journey, please respect each other. Whether or not you believe a strict vegan diet is right for you or others, I think we can all agree that getting more real, plant-based food on our plates is a good thing. A book like Veganomicon is a great source of inspiration on this front (whether you are a hardcore vegan or not).

Vegan Caesar Salad Recipe

HS notes: If you don't have time to roast the garlic for the croutons, you can use raw - the flavor will be more pronounced, with less depth and mellowness. Feel free to use your favorite multi-grain bread for the croutons. If a salad like this is going to be a main meal for me, I make it topped with something like smoked tofu, something with some protein (for staying power) but use your imagination. If your dressing is too thick just thin it with a bit of warm water.

Caesar dressing:
1/3 cup slivered or sliced almonds
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3/4 cup silken tofu
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 heaping tablespoon capers
4 teaspoons caper brine
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
Salt

Croutons:
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves roasted garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 medium size loaf French or Italian bread (little less than 1 pound), stale and torn or sliced into bite-sized pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt

Salad:
1 large head romaing lettuce, chopped
Freshly cracked black pepper
Handful or two of spinach and/or arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces (optional)

Prepare the dressing: Pulse the sliced almonds in a food processor or blender until crumbly. Empty the ground almonds into an airtight container that you'll be using to store the finished dressing. Blend the garlic, tofu, and oil in the food processor or belnder until creamy. Add the lemon juice, capers, caper brine, sugar, and mustard powder, and pulse until blended. Adjust the salt and lemon juice to taste. Put into the container with the ground almonds and whisk to combine. Cover and allow the dressing to chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes, optimally 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

While the dressing is chilling, prepare the croutons: Preheat the oven to 400F. Combine the olive oil, roasted garlic, and lemon juice in a large bowl. With a fork or immersion blender, mash orblend the mixture until creamy. Add the torn bread and toss to coat each piece with the oil mixture. Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, if desired, and bake for 12 to 14 minutes until golden brown. Toss the croutons twice during the baking process. Remove from the oven and cool the croutons on the baking sheet.

To assemble the salad, place in a large bowl 2 to 3 cups of lettuce/greens per individual serving (amount depending on whether it's a side or an entree). Ladle on 1/3 cup of the dressing (or more or less to taste), and use kitchen tongs to toss the greens and coat them with dressing. Add the warm croutons, toss again, and transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with a little freshly cracked pepper. If not serving right away, warm croutons in 300F oven for 5 to 8 minutes before adding to the salad.

Serves 4 to 6 as a side, 2 to 3 as a main.

from Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (Marlowe & Company, 2007) - reprinted with permission.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • just curious. im new to eating, or Living Well, by eating more fruits and veges and way less red meat. Loving everything so far. When you talk about adding 'silken tofu' to the Ceasar Salad what do you mean? I've see two different types, Japenese and Chinese. One is hard and the other, i think, is more....soft? Which do you use and in what atmosphere? thanks i need all kinds of advice but this is a good start. thanks again.

    joeswife
  • A open question to you and your blog users: how might one replace butter with a non-animal product in baked goods like the scones you featured recently, in which the fatty substance has to be "cut" into the dough? Thank you for your wonderful recipes and informative posts.

    sometime-vegan
  • thanks for an interesting post and an interesting recipe - I am a vegetarian who loves cheese and yoghurt but doesn't like eggs and milk much, so I find vegan recipes really good for me. I also wanted to say thank you for your post in September last year about the sundried tomato and cheese muffins - I tried the recipe last weekend and they were fantastic - the first thing I've been able to bake that my gluten free niece will eat! I also was inspired by your love for Rose Elliot to buy one of her cookbooks (the zodiac cookbook) in a second hand shop because it made me check on the web and find it was out of print - so I wont take her second hand books for granted so much when I see them (although I have quite a few already that I love).

    Johanna
  • Where can one buy mustard powder? Just wondering:)

    Micah Rose
  • Thank you for sharing this recipe! Caesar salad is not something I can live without !

    Hillary
  • looks FABULOUS - I own Veganomicon, and can definitely verify that it is a worthwhile cookbook.

    VeggieGirl
  • Heidi, yay for vegan recipes! Thanks so much for posting one explicitly labeled as such. I'm totally going to make this salad this weekend, and now I'm coveting Veganomicon, too ... Hmm, maybe I should even crack "How To Cook Everything Vegetarian" before I let myself buy another cookbook as recommended by your blog, though! :-)

    Nori
  • Hello! I'm a regular visitor on this site, and I really enjoy reading your blog. When I saw this gorgeous picture of srumptious salad, I was thrilled. Vegan caesar salad? Why not. I'm neither vegetarian nor vegan, but I don't mind experimenting in every realm, and I do enjoy eating a vegetarian meal now and then. [I'm in the "everything in moderation" club, I focus on eating healty food, try to buy local-bio-small-scale-production food]. So I read on, but then twitched at the word "capers". I really, really, really don't like capers. "No problem, I told myself, I'll leave them out, it shouldn't be a problem". That's when I got to the "caper brine" part. Now that seems a little bit more problematic. If I don't put brine in, won't that dressing be awfully thick, not quite salty enough? Any suggestions for what I could use instead of caper brine? Green olive brine, maybe? Feta brine (but that would ruin the vegan part)? Plain water with a bit of salt? Help!

    Yamp
  • i'm flexitarian, and that cookbook is next on my amazon wish list!

    amy
  • Thanks for this goldmine of info about vegan. You made me curious about this book.

    Babeth
  • I'm not vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination, though I have scaled way back on my meat consumption, mostly through cooking for my semi-vegetarian boyfriend. For Christmas I asked for (and received) both Super Natural Cooking and Veganomicon. :)

    gigi
  • I've been a vegetarian all my life, but don' know if being vegan is aa really healthy option...most part of our calcium and protein comes from the dairy, right? plants and legumes have proteins and fiber, but definitely low in calcium.. neways, that's a great-looking salad, and vegan or not, I'll have it:)

    Mansi
  • I've been a vegetarian for thirteen years, and for a long part of that time I didn't eat dairy products really at all (i never called myself a vegan though because i still had leather shoes, etc). but people always used to ask me whether i was getting enough calcium, and my response was that in cultures where people get their calcium from plant sources, there are MUCH lower rates of osteoperosis than in america. i think there's a lot that we don't know about how the body absorbs nutrients from plant sources, as opposed to animal sources. lovely recipe, i don't think i could give up dairy products again, i love ice cream and eggs too much, but everything in moderation, i guess.

    katy
  • Great post! You wrote really sensibly and even-handedly about food politics and nutrition--topics that are really personal and emotional to people. I'm a Pollan-style eater, but I do enjoy the occasional vegan recipe. Julie

    Julie O'Hara
  • I am overjoyed every time I see a vegan recipe! Thank you. =)

    Romina
  • Heidi, first and foremost, I really enjoy reading your blog entries and seeing your gorgeous photos. You do such a nice job with all of it. Second, my heart skipped a beat when I saw that you had featured Isa and Terry's newest book, Veganomicon. Like Vegan with a Vengeance and Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World, Veganomicon really goes a long way toward showing that anyone can cook healthy, tasty and inexpensive dishes in a short amount of time. I haven't been vegan in quite a while, but I probably eat vegan-ly about 3-4 days a week just because there are so many yummy options -- even more now from Veganomicon and your great blog. If you haven't seen their other books, I highly recommend them. There are more to come as well! Looking forward to your next post.

    Deb Schiff
  • I wonder how soaked cashews would work in place of the silken tofu. Tofu is too processed for my liking...just a thought. Love the site & the philosophy- keep it up!

    marci
  • This is something that I think my sister in law (soon to be) might enjoy.

    Paul Van Voorst
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