Is it possible to make a good Caesar salad without that dreamy, lemony emulsion of egg yolk, Parmesan and anchovies? Is it even a Caesar without the traditional dressing?
More importantly, can a Caesar salad be – gasp – vegan?
Here’s a recipe that makes a good case for a Caesar that’s egg-free, Parm-free and anchovy-free. The creamy texture and umami notes are left to two darling ingredients of the vegan pantry: cashews and nutritional yeast.
The reinvented dish comes via Gena Hamshaw’s cookbook “Power Plates: 100 Nutritionally Balanced, One-Dish Vegan Meals,” released this week by Ten Speed Press ($24.99). A New York-based nutritionist, Hamshaw writes The Full Helping blog.
And because some of us want a “full helping” out of a Caesar, and not just a side salad, Hamshaw added a meaty element to the dish – tamari-scented cubes of baked tempeh.
What does tamari have to do with Tijuana, birthplace of the Caesar? Granted, Hamshaw takes artistic license in this salad. But the spirit of the Caesar rests in her reimagined dressing, which exalts the power of the cashew. The flavor notes are all well represented. Even the traditional dressing’s most briny, salty element, the anchovies, have been replaced with capers. Genius.
The following recipe and author’s note is reprinted from Gena Hamshaw’s newly released cookbook “Power Plates: 100 Nutritionally Balanced, One-Dish Vegan Meals” with the permission of its publisher, Ten Speed Press.
“Everything about this Caesar salad, from the tangy sun-dried tomatoes to the egg-free dressing to the baked tempeh, is nontraditional. Yet somehow the spirit of classic Caesar salad shines through in all of its tart, creamy, salty glory, proving that recipes don’t have to be faithful to be evocative.” – Gena Hamshaw
Makes 4 servings of salad and 1 1/2 cups of dressing.
For the tempeh:
8 ounces tempeh, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons agave nectar or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 slices whole grain bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder
For the dressing:
3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons capers
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
For the salad:
1 small bunch Lacinato kale, stemmed and cut into thin strips
5 cups firmly packed, chopped romaine lettuce
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, oil-packed or dry-packed