This crisp, hearty, tangy, and vegan Caesar salad is a refreshingly healthy take on the old classic. While I can certainly live without a Caesar salad, Tanner can’t. When we go out and Caesar salad is on the menu, he’s ordering it. Every single time.
Since we don’t eat out that often, I never even thought about transforming the “old classic” into a healthier plant-based alternative. However, when Tanner brought a bottle of a Caesar salad dressing home a few weeks ago (just so that he could make Caesar salad more frequently), I really wanted to come up with a healthier alternative. Having Caesar salad as an occasional treat in a restaurant? OK. Turning it into a staple with a store-bought dressing? Not so OK.
If you’re wondering why I’ve never been a big fan of the classic Caesar salad, it’s the heavy dressing, flood of Parmesan cheese, and white-bread croutons. While Caesar salad dressing can turn your bowl of leafy greens into a savory delight, it’s one of the worst additions to an otherwise healthy salad. And the croutons? If it’s loads of refined carbs and empty calories, look no further.
The good news is that it’s not that difficult to turn this salad into a nutritional bomb! Here is how:
- Leafy Green Base – while I have nothing against romaine lettuce, when it comes to a nutritional value, it pales in comparison to other leafy greens like spinach, kale, or Swiss chard. Generally speaking, the darker the leafy green, the more nutrients it possesses. So mix some de-stemmed dino kale with the romaine lettuce for added fiber and nutrients. You can check out this visual guide to leafy greens for some more options.
- Dressing – there’s a reason cashews are labeled a culinary wonder. Cashews provide a creamy rich consistency without any diary. Capers stand in for the salty, briny flavor. Mustard adds the much needed zing. And lemon juice with olive oil balance the dressing. Tweak the garlic and salt to your taste and voila – you have a perfect Caesar salad dressing.
- Parmesan – while this Parmesan doesn’t melt, it’s delectable and super easy to make. Throw some nuts, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt together and serve it over your favorite salads or pasta dishes.
- Croutons – swap out the bread croutons in favor for roasted chickpeas. These chickpea croutons are not only healthier, but also crunchy, savory, and very addictive.
The first time I made this vegan Caesar salad, Tanner finished all 6 servings, aka the entire bowl! He actually thought that I used the dressing he bought for himself. So when I told him that it’s dairy-free, his jaw dropped. Yes, this vegan Caesar salad is that close to the original.
If you like Caesar salad, try this recipe. And as always, leave a comment to let me know how you liked it.