Not sure if it's due to overkill of all the soft, creamy holiday food, but I've been obsessed lately with crunchy vegan caesar salads! My favorite restaurant version here in NYC is from Blossom, and upstate (in Ulster County), it's Garden Cafe in Woodstock.
Here's one we can all try at home. Kale is a wonderful (and more nutrient-rich) replacement for romaine, just sans crunch of course.
VEGAN CAESAR SALAD
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup non-dairy milk
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
5 Kalamata olives
Salt & pepper to taste
3 slices whole-grain bread (to make croutons)
Soak the cashews for at least 4 hours. The longer you soak them, the easier they will blend into the final dressing. When ready to make, drain the soaking liquid and then…
In a high-powered blender or food processor, combine all ingredients except lettuce and bread (cashews, non-dairy milk, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, olives, and a dash of salt & pepper) and let it run for several minutes. Seriously, several minutes. You want the cashews to turn into a creamy sauce with no chunks remaining.
At this point, the sauce will likely be very thick. Slowly add several tablespoons of water at a time and continue blending until it has the perfect salad dressing consistency. Now, give the mixture a taste and feel free to adjust any ingredients. More salt, lemon, or garlic? Another olive? Throw in whatever it needs and blend until the dressing is perfect.
Cover and refrigerate. In a pinch, you can use the sauce as is, but cashew sauces tend to get much better after chilling for several hours. It can be saved (sealed) for several days in the refrigerator.
When ready to serve, chop the romaine lettuce and add it to a large bowl with as much dressing as you’d like. Then, use the best kitchen tools you have (clean hands) to toss and evenly coat the lettuce. Garnish with homemade whole wheat croutons (follow link for full recipe).