Crisp, creamy, rich and decadent, there’s no question Caesar is the glorious emperor of salads. And there’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular dressings!
From a nutritional perspective, there’s nothing really inherently wrong with a traditional Caesar dressing as long as you’re using high quality components. The essentials of egg, lemon juice, anchovies, Dijon mustard etc. are all great ingredients in their own right. Where it goes south is when companies and restaurants start adding in all sorts of cheap oils, preservatives, sugar and other garbage that can cause a slew of health concerns. Not only that, but the addition of refined white flour croutons doesn’t beg for wellness bonus points. And of course, what if you’re allergic to eggs, or have an issue with anchovies?
Luckily for you this recipe avoids many of those potentially problematic options. Completely plant-based, and free of any junk, the dressing provided below is an easy winner. Mix it with a combination of baby kale and romaine hearts and you’ve got the classic crunchy base with an added deep-green nutrient rich accompaniment. Instead of croutons, try some toasted almonds, crispy roasted chickpeas, and enzyme-rich bean sprouts, and garnish it all with some protein-packed hemp hearts, the endless goodness of avocado slices, any roast or sautéed veggies you have lying around (pictured here with zucchini), and maybe even a couple grain-free chicken tenders, and you’ll be feeling like royalty in no time!
Recipe: Grain-Free Chicken Tenders
Super Caesar Salad
Prep time: 10 minutes (plus overnight for soaked cashews)
Cook time: 10 minutes (for almonds)
Makes about 4-6 servings
To Make the Plant-Based Caesar Dressing...
- ½ cup raw cashews, soaked overnight and rinsed thoroughly
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tblsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1-2 garlic clove
- ½ tblsp Worcestershire sauce (preferably sugar-free)
- 1 tbsp capers
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Add the cashews and all other dressing ingredients (except salt and pepper) into a high speed blender, and blend on high until the dressing is super smooth. *Note: you may need to add extra water or olive oil if it's not blending enough
- Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust other seasonings, if desired. Set aside.
To Make The Toasted Almonds or Chickpeas (or double up and do both!)...
- 1 cup raw almonds or chickpeas
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- A sprinkling of salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Mix the almonds or chickpeas with the oil and seasoning in a large bowl, and evenly distribute on the baking sheet.
- Bake for about 10-15 minutes (a little more for the chickpeas, a little less for the almonds), until they're slightly toasted and crispy, but not burnt. Set aside. *Note: if doing both, bake them separately because of their differing cook times
The Lettuce Base...
- 4-5 cups baby kale
- 2 heads romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and chopped (about 4-5 cups)
- 1 cup bean sprouts
- ¼ cup hemp hearts
- 1-2 ripe avocados, sliced
- Grain-free chicken tenders to top
To Assemble the Salad...
- Slowly add the dressing to the lettuce and toss until coated to your liking (you may have some leftovers which should be stored in the fridge).
- Add the almonds, chickpeas bean sprouts, and hemp hearts and toss gently until evenly combined.
- Garnish with the avocado slices, and add a few grain-free chicken tenders, or another protein of your choosing (salmon also goes wonderfully).