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There's that old saying about how nothing in life is certain but death and taxes. Well, in my case, you can add Caesar salad to the idiom. Without fail, you'll be able to open my parents' fridge and there, somewhere nestled among the cabbage and the leftover dahl, is a jam jar full of Caesar dressing. It's the one thing, no matter what the season or the amount of groceries my parents have, that will be there like clockwork.
So naturally, as one would have guessed, I ate a lot of Caesars growing up. But for whatever reason, I feel like they have gone out of fashion. And to me, that's almost criminal. Personally, I blame this on that weird trend ten years ago where every school cafeteria was placing a boiled chicken breast on them and wrapping them up in a tortilla. What was that trend??? Anyways, I have optimism that the trend in kale Caesars will help it make the resurgence that it's long overdue for. To me it's the perfect salad. It's salty and creamy, and feels decadent and satisfying, all the while being able to pack a powerful amount of veggie. Using a hearty green like kale makes for the perfect dressing-grabber, and is substantial enough that it can sit a while dressed before turning to a watery wilted lettuce mess like the classic romaine. And beside guys, dark greens are your buds!
Most, if not all, egg-free Caesars rely heavily on the addition of tahini. Now, while I love (love love love) tahini, sometimes I feel like it's in just about everything I eat. And while I appreciate it's flavour, it can sometimes be a little overpowering, especially if you just want a good ol' classic Caesar dressing. Opting for a high quality egg free sandwich spread like Hellmann's new GMO-free spread, is the perfect substitute for the typical raw yolk, and helps create a Caesar dressing that will fool even the staunchest of traditionalists. The richness of Carefully Crafted Sandwich Spread, when mixed with the olive oil and lemon juice, makes for a super silky dressing that won't separate in the fridge. Even better, is the the wonderful zip and tang it brings to the dressing, which is very reminiscent of the classic. Capers help to bring the salty kick that anchovies often contribute, and while I used a vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, feel free to used the 'normal' one (containing fish). In lieu of bread based croutons, crispy chickpeas provide a spicy crunch and a good hit of protein, making this salad nice and ample. I went a little overboard here and even made a batch of smokey Coconut Bacon and Nutty Parm, which I can't recommend enough. But even if you don't manage to get your garnish game on super strong, this dressing, with some greens and maybe some avocado and hemp seeds, will most likely be the best part of your day (or maybe just your new favourite lunch). Making up a batch of dressing, à la my mama, allows you to make a salad anytime throughout the week, making meal times a helluva lot easier.
Print the Recipe Here
3 Cloves Garlic, Grated
2 Tbsp. Hellmann's® Carefully Crafted Sandwich Spread®
½ tsp. Sea Salt
¼ tsp. Ground Pepper
1 Tbsp. Capers, Drained
1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice, about ½ a lemon
¾ teaspoon Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (or regular)
1 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Tbsp. Nutritional Yeast
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Bunch Kale, about 6-8 cups once removed from the stem
Coconut Bacon (Recipe Below)
Chickpea Croutons (Recipe Below)
Nutty Parm (Recipe Here)
1. In a small bowl, add the grated garlic, Hellmann's Carefully Crafted, salt, pepper, Worcestershire, yeast, and mustard. Whisk until combined. Slowly add the oil in a slow steady stream, while whisking. Once emulsified, stir in the lemon juice and capers. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
2. Rip the kale off the stems and tare into bite sized pieces (you want about 6-8 loss cups). Poor the dressing over the kale (a bit at a time until you have enough) and using your hands, toss to combine. Garnish the salad with the Chickpea Croutons, a couple handfuls of coconut bacon, and a couple Tbsp. of the Nutty Parm. Serve with the extra garnish and lemon, just in case you want some extra goodness.
If not using right away, refrigerate the dressing.
2 Cups Cooked Chickpeas
1 ½ Tbsp. Avocado or Coconut Oil
½ tsp. Sea Salt
¼ tsp. Black Pepper
¼ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1. Begin by drying the chickpeas really well with a tea towel. Some of the skins will slough off, but they can just be discarded.
2. Toss the dried chickpeas with the oil and the spices and roast in a 205 C (400 F) for 25 minutes, stirring every ten minutes or so.
I opted not to use liquid smoke in this recipe, but if you have it on hand, feel free to add about 1 tsp.
2 Cups Coconut Flakes or Ribbons (not Shredded)
1 tablespoon Coconut Oil, melted
2 tablespoon Tamari
2 tablespoon Maple Syrup
Big Pinch Cayenne
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1. In a bowl combine the oil, tamari, maple syrup, cayenne, and pepper. Toss with the coconut, until coated. Let sit to marinate for 10 or so minutes before placing spreading on a tray and roasting in a 150 C (300 F) oven. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring every 5. Keep a keen eye on it as the coconut will burn quickly. The 'bacon' may moist when you take it out of the oven, but it will crisp up as it cools. Once cool, store in an airtight container.