Caesar is the mother of all salads, vegan or not. But especially vegan! Who can deny a briny, lemony, creamy, garlicky dressing? I think the reason that kale Caesars in particular are so popular (besides the fact that the name sounds like “hail, Caesar,” I suppose) is that the acidic dressing really breaks down the kale’s toughness. It still retains its crunch and heartiness but after the massage it’s, well, relaxed a bit! This dressing uses nori as a seasoning, adding that ocean flavor to the mix. I love roasted Brussels sprouts instead of croutons, for their toasty crunch. If you’d like to add protein, toss in some chickpeas or top with tempeh bacon, or baked or grilled tofu. Avocado, of course, never hurts, either.
The dressing breaks down the kale’s toughness, revealing its true, velvety nature. There's crunch from the Brussels sprouts, but you can add croutons, too.
- 455 g (1 lb) Brussels sprouts, quartered
- 30 ml olive oil
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 cup (120 g) whole unroasted cashews (if you don’t own a high-speed blender, see Note)
- ½ sheet nori, torn into pieces
- ¼ cup (35 g) nutritional yeast flakes
- ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
- ¾ tsp salt
- Several dashes freshly ground black pepper
- 455 g (1 lb) Tuscan (lacinato) kale, tough stems removed, leaves torn into 5 cm (2 in) pieces
- Roasted sunflower seeds, for garnish, optional
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Lemon slices, for squeezing, optional
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
If you don't have a high-speed blender, allow a few hours to soak the cashews or 15-20 minutes for boiling them.
1. Make the brussels sprouts: Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Toss the brussels sprouts with the olive oil and salt. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned. No need to flip them, just let ’em roast.
3. Make the dressing: Place the garlic cloves in a high-speed blender and pulse to chop them up. Add the cashews, nori, nutritional yeast, 3⁄4 cup (180 ml) water, lemon juice, mustard, salt and pepper and blend until completely smooth, about a minute, scraping down the sides with a rubber spatula every now and again.
4. Pour about three-quarters of the dressing into a large mixing bowl. Add the kale and massage it into the dressing with your hands for about a minute. Don’t be afraid to really get in there like you’re kneading dough.
5. Top with the roasted brussels sprouts and drizzle on more dressing. Finish with roasted sunflower seeds, if desired, and a little extra black pepper, and serve with lemon slices, if using.
• For the dressing: If you don’t have a high-speed blender, that’s no problem! There are a few options to get your cashews creamy and dreamy. Note that an average blender could take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes to work its charm. Always use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and remember to give your blender motor a break every minute or so to ensure it doesn’t burn out.
- Soaking. At least a few hours ahead of time (even a day in advance), place cashews in a bowl and cover with a few inches of water. That’s it! Then drain and proceed with the recipe.
- If you forget to soak, then boil them for 15 minutes.
- If you forget to soak and you don’t hate microwaves, place in a microwave-safe bowl, submerge in a few inches of water, and heat on high for 2 minutes, then soak for 15 minutes or so.
• To make tempeh bacon: In a wide shallow bowl, whisk together 1½ tbsp (30 ml) pure maple syrup, 1½ tbsp (30 ml) tamari, 1½ tbsp (30 ml) olive oil 1½ tbsp smoked paprika and 2 tablespoons water. Add 225 g (8 oz) tempeh, cut widthwise into 6 mm (¼ -inch) slices, and marinate for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Spray pan with non-stick cooking spray. Add temped in a single layer, reserving the marinade. Pan-fry for about 10 minutes, until the tempeh is slightly blackened in some spots, flipping it occasionally with a thin metal spatula and adding splashes of marinade as you cook. Once ready, if not serving immediately, transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil until ready to serve.
Recipe and image from I Can Cook Vegan by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Abrams, hb, $45)