Vegan Caesar Salad with Nutty Herb Croutons


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I realize now that the delicious little croutons on top of this yummy salad look like meatballs, but this meal is in fact completely vegan. So what are those meatball-looking things? They are Nutty Herb Croutons that will make your taste buds do a happy dance—I kid you not. How so many flavors are packed into these tiny little clusters is beyond me. I’m talking about parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary…all sorts of dried herbs! The main ingredient though is almonds. Yessss, that’s right! Not a lick of bread involved here (well, except for the piece I served with this salad). Just healthy goodness all around.

Vegan Caesar Salad with Nutty Herb Croutons l Love.Bake.Read

The thought that Caesar salad is not typically vegan has probably already crossed your mind, so let me explain. This Caesar dressing is made with almonds and I can assure you it tastes just like typical Caesar dressing. I almost skipped the dry mustard in this dressing, but it’s a darn good thing I didn’t because it’s pretty much the key ingredient here. At first taste, I kept thinking it was the 1 raw garlic clove I added that gave this dressing its zing, but it’s actually the dry mustard. Very distinct flavor! Dare I say it resembles the anchovy in typical Caesar dressing? I should mention that this dressing is very thick—you can add a touch more water, but I wouldn’t recommend adding too much because it will dilute the flavor. I went ahead and made a double batch of the recipe listed below…because why not?

Now for the salad itself, it’s pretty simple. I used kale here, but feel free to use any combination of lettuce and dark greens. I tossed in some romaine for leftovers and it added a nice bit of crispness. Spinach would be a grrreat addition as well. Don’t hesitate to mix it up!

Vegan Caesar Salad with Nutty Herb Croutons l Love.Bake.Read

We actually topped our salads with tofu bites, diced Portobello mushrooms, and diced avocado—these are certainly optional add-ins, but they really bulked up this already incredible salad. Steve always says I’m starving him with my healthy meal options (ha!), so I typically find ways to make a meal more hearty, but still completely healthy.

We will be having this again!

Vegan Caesar Salad with Nutty Herb Croutons

Yields 4-6 servings + 54 croutons

Ingredients

For the nutty herb croutons

  • 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. water
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 2 tbsp. chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp. salt

For the Caesar Dressing

  • ½ cup raw almonds—soaked for 12 hours, skins removed
  • 1 whole head of garlic, for roasting + 1 raw clove
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ¼ tsp. dry mustard
  • ¼ – ½ tsp. salt
  • ¼ – ½ tsp. black pepper
  • ¼ cup water

For the salad

  • 1 (16 oz.) bag of kale—de-stemmed and cut small with kitchen shears
  • optional mix-ins: chopped romaine lettuce, or spinach leaves

Optional Add-ins

  • tofu cubes (click here for directions on how to cook tofu – use garlic powder instead of chili powder)
  • diced Portobello mushrooms (sauté with a bit of olive oil)
  • diced avocado

Directions

For the nutty herb croutons

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray, or lightly coat with oil.

To a small bowl, add the ground flaxseed, oil, and water. Let sit 5 minutes, until thickened a bit—stirring occasionally.

To the bowl of a food processer, add the garlic and process to mince. Add the almonds and process again until finely ground. Add the flaxseed mixture, onion, dried herbs, and salt and process until well incorporated. Pinch a bit of the mixture between your fingers to make sure it holds together well. Transfer to a bowl. Using a ½ teaspoon, scoop out some of the mixture and form it into a ball (they don’t need to be perfect) and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until golden (make sure they don’t burn).

For the Caesar dressing

Turn the oven up to 425 degrees.

Cut the top off of the head of garlic to expose all the cloves. Wrap the garlic head in foil, place it on a baking sheet, and bake for 40 minutes, or until golden. Let cool and then pop each clove of garlic out of the skin.

While the garlic roasts, drain and rinse the soaked almonds and peel the skin off each almond by pinching it between your thumb and index finger. The skin should pop right off.

Add the soaked/peeled almonds to the bowl of a food processor along with the roasted garlic, 1 raw garlic clove, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, dry mustard, salt, pepper, and water. Process until smooth, adding just a small amount more of water, if needed (don’t add too much, or you’ll dilute the flavor).

To Assemble

Add some chopped kale (and/or chopped romaine, spinach) to a bowl with a lid, dress with your desired amount of dressing, and top with a few nutty herb croutons (I also crumble a few of the croutons over-top the salad). If using, also add the tofu, mushrooms, and diced avocado. Cover with lid and shake to distribute dressing.

Store leftover dressing and salad separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator.

Source
The Oh She Glows Cookbook

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