I came up with this Vegan Chicken Caesar Salad recipe on the fly a few weeks ago to satisfy some Summer salad cravings. It’s totally perfect and easy for quick summer meals, and exactly what the body needs during these warm months.
This vegan Caesar salad is my take on this classic dish, but without stinky fishes, obviously, and without bread. The vegan chicken makes the salad filling enough without adding croutons or bread – but of course add them if you like. If you’re not interested in faux meats, a few roasted chickpeas would be good here too. Add that to a base of chopped Romaine, some shredded kale or spinach, and grated zucchini for extra veggie power and top with this super-creamy cashew dressing.
This salad is best on the first day – the lettuce gets wilted and it does not make for good leftovers. The dressing will be good for up to a week, however, so make a double batch and use for other salads, as a dip, and just as a veggie dip.
But can we talk for a second about how YUMMY capers are? These tiny flowers (yep, they are the flower bud of a bush) offer a huge punch of flavor for this recipe. They are a really underutilized condiment, but are really important here for the proper briney flavor. Capers, packed in brine usually in a jar, are found near mustard and olives at your favorite grocery store. Even though the jars are small, you only need a few capers to make a big flavorful impact. These are often used in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, specifically puttanesca sauce. The liquid is strong and briny – if you wish for a stronger taste for the dressing use an extra Tablespoon of the liquid in place of water and blend in a few extra capers, too.
Vegan Chicken Caesar Salad
1 package Beyond Chicken or Gardein Breaded Chicken Tenders, see note
2 heads Romaine lettuce, chopped roughly
2 cups chopped fresh kale or spinach
1 small zucchini, grated
2-4 Tablespoons capers, more as needed
Creamy Caesar Dressing
1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
1/4 cup hempseeds
1 Tablespoon white miso
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon prepared dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon capers
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup water, more as needed
- Cook vegan chicken according to package directions, and let cool slightly
- Toss the romaine, kale, zucchini, and capers into a large bowl.
- To make the dressing: Drain and rinse the cashews.
- In a food processor, blend cashews with all dressing ingredients, starting with 1/4 cup of the water. Add more water as needed to make the dressing creamy but not runny.
- Divide greens into serving bowls, top with vegan chicken, and then toss with lots of dressing and extra capers if you like.
Yield: 2-4 servings of salad
A note about the chicken: I’ve made this with both types of vegan chicken, the Beyond Chicken strips and the Gardein Chicken Tenders; while both were good, the Beyond Meat held up better as a salad ingredient. The Gardein strips got quite soggy in the salad. Still good, but not really the texture I was craving. There are other Gardein chicken options though, and perhaps those would work better.
A note about the greens: Romaine is the classic ingredient here, but it would absolutely be good as a kale salad, with mixed greens, or with spinach or arugula. Use whatever leafies you love here for a mix of texture and flavor.
I hope you love this new recipe as much as I do! Andrea