Vegan Caesar Salad

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Close up of a bowl of vegan Caesar salad on a placemat

Done in 20 minutes – this creamy, tangy Vegan Caesar Salad is delicious topped with crispy chickpea croutons, straight out of the oven. The dairy free dressing is a blend of macadamia nuts, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard and garlic.

The classic Caesar salad is actually pretty easy to vegan-ise, and even easier to make. The creamy dressing is what brings it all together, and the addition of crispy chickpeas as ‘croutons’ makes it suitable for those avoiding gluten.

The salad base is a mix of cos lettuce with just a little baby kale – adding some bitterness which I like more for its health benefits than taste (obvs!). Bitter greens stimulate production of gastric juices and for the most part out diet is lacking since our fruits and vegetables have been hybridised to make them sweet and palatable. Sigh.

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Fresh ingredients for a vegan Caesar salad laid out on the kitchen bench

I’ve added big juicy Sicilian green olives for a little umami flavour, some cherry tomatoes and ripe avocado.

The dressing is entirely dairy free, and whipped up in 30 seconds flat. I chose macadamia nuts as they have a milder flavour than cashews, and, because they are so soft and buttery, they don’t need to be soaked to soften in advance of blending.

In place of anchovies, I’ve used a little toasted nori – as in the wrappers you use for making sushi. A little goes a long way, but it lends a salty-sea flavour without the fish. Genius.

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Large bowl of vegan Caesar salad on a woven placemat with bowl of olives and croutons nearby

The dressing also contains a little Dijon mustard, nutritional yeast (which is a little cheesy tasting and full of B group vitamins), garlic and olive oil.

As for the croutons, I know you’re going ask – are the chickpeas really crispy?! To be honest I fear the homemade crispy chickpeas thing may be a bit of a myth. In saying that, I think I have found a way to make them somewhat crunchier – definitely not soft anyway.

The trick to crispy chickpeas is to dry them as well as you can before baking. To do this, you place them in the centre of a clean tea towel, then fold the sides over and give them a good rub. I’ve read one recipe that calls for peeling off all the outer layers – erm, no thanks, that seems far too laborious!

From here you toss in olive oil and spices, then bake till they start to pop. They’re yum, and close enough texture wise – just enjoy them straight away.

Vegan Caesar salad being served on a dinner plate

Health + Nutrition Highlights:

  • 12g protein per serve
  • 12g fibre per serve
  • 40mg vitamin C per serve
  • 8mg iron
  • 41mg magnesium (a cofactor in more than 500 enzymatic reactions in the body – 40% of the Australian population do not get enough of this mineral)
  • 2mg zinc (for skin and immune health)
  • Avocados and olives are pure beauty foods. They are both full of fatty acids that nourish the skin, and contain the antioxidant vitamin E
  • Avo’s contain carotenoids called lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect the retina from oxidative stress (generous dietary intake can also help reduce the risk for cataract). They are also found in leafy greens, nasturtium leaves, spirulina and egg yolks – but are heat sensitive so raw is best. Carotenoids, like vitamins A, D, E and K, are fat soluble – so the fat within avocado (+ olives and macadamia nuts) promotes their absorption
  • Cos (romaine) lettuce may surprise you – it features in the top 10 list of most nutrient-dense vegetables on the planet – earning the status of a ‘powerhouse vegetable’ if you will! (According to a 2014 study)

That’s all from me today friends, thanks for reading, enjoy the recipe, and see you next week!

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4.67 from 3 votes
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Vegan Caesar Salad

Vegan Caesar Salad with a creamy, tangy dressing and crispy chickpea croutons. Serves 2-4 depending on whether you enjoy as a main or a side.

Course Mains, Salad with dressing
Cuisine Gluten free, Healthy, Italian, Vegan
Prep Time 20 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 376 kcal
Author Lauren Glucina

Ingredients

SALAD

  • 4 cups cos romaine lettuce (I also included a little baby kale)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • 12 Sicilian green olives select olives in brine rather than oil

DRESSING

  • 1/3 cup macadamia nuts
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard Dijon
  • 1 g toasted nori
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

CHICKPEA CROUTONS

  • 1 tin chickpeas 400g
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder not onion salt!
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • Generous sprinkle of red chilli ground

Instructions

  1. First, get the croutons on to cook. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then rub dry in a clean tea towel. Toss them with the rest of the ingredients to coat and bake at 175˚C (347˚F) for 15 minutes or until they start to pop, tossing frequently.
  2. To make the dressing, blend all ingredients on high till creamy.
  3. Wash the greens and spin them dry, then cut the cos into 1 inch strips and the kale into smaller ribbons. Add to large bowl with the halved cherry tomatoes, then pour the dressing over and massage in with your hands.
  4. Add sliced avocado, olives and cooked chickpea croutons, serve and enjoy!

Lauren's Notes

  • You might like to add some good old garlic croutons in here – I prefer to use a gluten free bread, but my partner can’t go past sourdough. Just toss in olive oil and minced garlic, and bake till golden.
  • I used a blend of cos lettuce with a little baby kale.
  • Remember – the dryer your chickpeas are before baking, the crispier they will turn out!

If you make and enjoy this recipe, please leave a rating!

Large serving bowl of vegan Caesar salad on the kitchen bench

Vegan Caesar Salad with Chickpea Croutons - gluten free

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lauren Glucina is a plant-based whole foods Nutritionist, Naturopath and Medical Herbalist. She is a passionate advocate for food as medicine. Lauren has also formally trained as a Raw Foods Chef and has a soft spot for raw treats. 

Lauren is available for Natural & Nutritional Medicine consultations here.