Vegan caesar salad? How is this even possible? Anything is possible in the kitchen if you have the right spices and flavours. Most dishes are not about the main ingredient but the way its seasoned and prepared so its entirely possible to recreate your pre-vegan faves without the meat, fish or even dairy elements!
But wait… this is not just vegan its…
Gluten Free, Nut Free & Oil Free Vegan Caesar Salad!
There are 3 elements to this dish but don’t be put off by that, all are quick and very simple. We are going to make vegan parmesan and vegan caesar dressing to go with our leaves and crispy chickpea croutons so this dish is gluten free and with a nut free parmesan option also.
We will make enough parmesan to keep some in the fridge for a few weeks to liberally sprinkle on salads, soups, pastas and anything you would normally use parmesan on but this non-dairy parmesan is cholesterol free and choc full of essential healthy fats!
The vegan caesar dressing is oil free and uses capers and hemp hearts, also called hemp seeds which combined give a little flavour hit of the sea, replacing the anchovies found in traditional caesar dressing.
I previously didn’t like fish BUT I do LOVE capers so don’t be afraid to give this a go even if you are not a fish lover also.
Instead of oil we are using aquafaba, if thats new for you its the liquid from the can of chickpeas. Its found to be an amazing egg replacer (thats another story… hello meringues!!) but in this dish we are using it to replace the oil and beautifully emulsify our dressing.
Also snuck into the vegan parmesan and vegan caesar dressing are hemp hearts (seeds). Now these are optional so again, if this is something new for you you can leave them out BUT they will add extra protein, omega 3s and a lovely nutty flavour. Maybe you’re wondering what else you will do with this previously unknown ingredient if you go ahead and buy some… you can use them in smoothies and sprinkle on salads or just keep using them to make more parm which I guarantee you are going to want as a fridge staple!
Finally, we are going to garnish with crispy chickpea croutons making this dish gluten free AND ramping up the protein and fibre. No empty calories here, everything is adding healthy nutrients to nourish your body while delighting your taste buds. Win Win!
OK lets do this…
Vegan Caesar Salad – Gluten Free, Nut Free & Oil Free
Vegan Caesar Salad
Gluten Free, Nut Free Option & Oil Free
- 1 Romaine Lettuce or pack of 3 Romaine Hearts
- 400 g can of chickpeas retain the liquid
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- pinch of salt
- 200 g pack smoked tofu
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 lemon juiced
- 1/2 - 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 3 tbsp hemp hearts (seeds)
- 1 tbsp capers
- splash caper brine
- 1 tsp vegan worcestershire sauce
- pinch salt
- 90 ml aquafaba from can of chickpeas
- 1/2 cup cashews sub with sunflower seeds if nut free
- 1/2 cup almonds sub with sunflower seeds if nut free
- hemp hearts seeds
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
- 1/2 - 1 tsp salt to taste
1. If you don’t have an air fryer set your oven to heat to180 C.
2. Wash and chop your salad leaves. Pat them dry or dry them in a salad spinner and then roll up in a tea towel or 2 and pop in the fridge. If you are organised enough to do this at least an hour in advance of making your salad it just helps to get the leaves nice and crispy, if not just get them in the fridge anyway while you put everything else together.
3. Drain the chickpeas but don’t rinse! Retain the liquid to go into the salad dressing. Toss them in a bowl with the smoked paprika and a pinch of salt. If you have an air fryer fry them at 180 C for 10 mins, shaking half way through. If you don’t have an air fryer, slice your tofu thinly and lay on a baking tray, pop the chickpeas on another baking tray and bake them in the pre-heated oven for 10-20 mins. Check the chickpeas and give them a shake at about 7 mins into the cooking and flip the tofu slices. These are going to be our salad croutons and bacon bits.
4. While the chickpeas are cooking combine the vegan parmesan ingredients in your food processor and pulse until you reach the desired consistency, adding more salt if required. If you need to toast the sesame seeds first just heat a dry frying pan on medium heat then add the seeds and turn down to low, toss them for a few minutes until they start to colour slightly and you’re done. Set aside. (For nut free leave out the nuts and use some sunflower seeds instead).
5. If you have an air fryer your chickpeas should be lovely and crispy and set aside now. Your thinly sliced tofu can now go into the fryer for 10 mins on 200 C.
6. Combine all your salad dressing ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend smooth.
7. Take your crisped up salad leaves from the fridge and put in a big bowl. Pour your dressing over the leaves a bit at a time, tossing with some tongs to make sure all the leaves are evenly coated. Don’t drown them in the dressing, a little goes a long way, ideally you want them to stay crispy!
8. Cut your crispy slices of tofu into pieces, ‘bacon bits’ style and throw over your salad leaves. Add your chickpea croutons and finally a good sprinkling of the parmesan and your vegan caesar salad is ready to serve. Enjoy!