Vegan Caesar Salad
In an effort to put together some pieces of a heath puzzle, I decided to do an elimination diet. After doing extensive research (Google.) and talking to my doctor, it seemed more effective and recommended than a full food allergy panel.
Before taking the plunge, I didn’t really know anything about elimination diets. I assumed it was pretty simple: just eliminate all the fun food you formerly put in your mouth. (Turns out, that wasn’t too far from the truth.)
In the last week alone, I have turned down some of my very favorite junk food: Oreos, Pirate’s Booty, S’mores, and the hardest of all… coffee. Oh, delicious, creamy caffeine-laced coffee. If dreaming about coffee is wrong, I don’t want to be right. Sugar, gluten, coffee, dairy. Gone, gone, sob, gone.
But I will admit this whole process has been incredibly helpful. It feels good to be disciplined and intentional about what I put into my body. It has made me pay more attention to how food makes me feel. And it has forced me to get more creative in the kitchen which is never a bad thing. I never thought I would say this about a vegan recipe, but I really loved it. I’m a fan of combining pretty basic ingredients in a new, unusual, delicious way.
I usually run the other way when words like vegan or Kardashian are thrown around, but this recipe grabbed my attention when it ran in the Oregonian’s Foodday section back in June. The dressing ingredient list was pretty basic. I love a good Caesar salad, and this rich, creamy dressing left nothing to be desired. (And not a single anchovy paid me to say that.)
I’ve always been curious about polenta but never actually cooked with it before. These crispy, spicy croutons replace those teeth-shattering cubes of stale bread found in most Caesar salads. They are best eaten fresh off the baking sheet. If you have leftovers, they’ll soften up so just heat them up again before serving.
If you aren’t the vegan type, just throw some grilled chicken and Parmesan cheese on top. I’m cool with that. Hey, while you’re at it, have an iced coffee and a pack of Oreos for me.
Cheesy Caesar Dressing
adapted from a Foodday recipe
This dressing will thicken after refrigeration. You can thin it by stirring in 2-3 t. of milk or water.
Yield: about 1/2 cup
1/3 c. soaked and drained raw cashews
1-2 T. nutritional yeast
1 t. whole chia seeds
1/2 t. salt
1 t. capers
1 clove garlic, chopped
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 c. plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk (like almond milk)
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 t. maple syrup
- Using a blender, combine all ingredients until very smooth.
- Serve tossed into romaine lettuce, along with Seasoned Polenta Croutons.
Seasoned Polenta Croutons
adapted from a Foodday recipe
1 tube (18 oz.) prepared organic polenta
1 T. nutritional yeast
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. paprika
1/8 t. pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut the polenta into 1/2-inch cubes and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
- Sprinkle with the nutritional yeast, salt, paprika, and pepper. Pick up the edges of the parchment paper and gently roll back and forth to lightly toss and coat the cubes.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, flipping once or twice, until golden and crispy on the edges. Remove from oven, let cool slightly.
- Serve warm over salads and soups.
Both of these original recipes come from Plant-Powered Families: Over 100 Kid-Tested, Whole-Foods Vegan Recipes by Dreena Burton (Amazon).
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