Vegan “Creamy” Caesar Salad with Gluten-Free Crunchy Croutons

September 6, 2012

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“Et tu, Brute? (pronounced [ɛt ˈtuː ˈbruːtɛ]) is a Latin phrase often used poetically to represent the last words of Roman dictator Julius Caesar to his friend Marcus Brutus at the moment of his assassination. While it can be variously translated as “Even you, Brutus?”, “You too, Brutus?”, “Thou too, Brutus?” or “And thou, Brutus?,” the most literal translation is “And you, Brutus?”[1][2] Immortalized by Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (1599), the quotation is widely used in Western culture to signify the utmost betrayal.” -Wikipedia

My mind often wanders to this phrase whenever I make a Caesar salad. It’s a phrase most often used to indicate shocked surprise. And my recipe for a vegan, gluten-free Caesar Salad Dressing may evoke similar sentiments in some people, although I hope it will be a happy shock and surprise for you!

I admit I have most brutally betrayed the original recipe – there is no cheese, no anchovies, no coddled egg and no cream! Yet, it tastes divine and I promise you that none of those traditional ingredients will be missed. Even my husband says he much prefers this dressing to the original.

When making the croutons you could use any gluten-free sliced bread; however, I decided to use Udi’s brand gluten-free hotdog buns so I could control the thickness of the croutons. These come out thick and crunchy and so yum that I often serve them in a bowl as a nibble with wine when friends visit. Just so you know how amazing they are: ‘sometimes-picky stepson’ loves them and said he couldn’t tell that they were gluten-free!

Getting back to betrayal – unfortunately I know too well that it can feel like the ultimate hurt and stress. Yet, somehow, those experiences have been my greatest teachers. They’ve challenged me to not become a victim. They have led me to dig deep inside myself to find and claim the next level of love and resiliency and power that I did not know I possessed. It’s in the “doing” of that inner-work that I continue to grow to become a better human being. A better human being, a better salad dressing – when Life throws you a challenge, I hope you choose to take it on in as healthy a way possible.

Vegan “Creamy” Caesar Salad Dressing

I love how a brief soak in water makes cashews so creamy when ground up! You can make this recipe as a dip by adding less water.

It’s also a delicious sauce for grilled chicken, tofu or even shrimp! If this dressing thickens too much as it sits in the refrigerator, just stir in a bit of water until it gets to the consistency you like.

1 cup raw cashews (I get mine at Trader Joe’s)

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced (I use 2!)

Pinch of cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

Zest of half a small lemon

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Water to achieve desired consistency

Romaine lettuce

Gluten-Free Crunchy Croutons (see recipe below)

How to make Vegan “Creamy” Caesar Salad Dressing:

Place raw cashews in a bowl and fill with water to cover the nuts. Allow to soak for an hour. Drain.

Into a food processor add the soaked cashews, capers, nutritional yeast, garlic, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Blend until mixture starts to incorporate and become creamy.

With processor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Check the consistency. Pulse a bit more if you want less texture. Add a small amount of water if it’s not blending easily. Transfer to a bowl and slowly whisk in additional water, if needed, until you get to the dressing (or dip or sauce) consistency you want.

Check seasoning, adding more pepper or salt if needed. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.

To make the salad: toss romaine lettuce with as much Vegan “Creamy” Caesar Salad Dressing as you like and add Gluten-Free Crunchy Croutons to your heart’s content!

Makes about 1 ½ cups vegan salad dressing


Gluten-Free Crunchy Croutons

This has become a staple in my home. They are easy to prepare and if they soften during storage, a quick minute in the toaster oven crisps them right up again!

 4 gluten-free hotdog buns ( I like Udi’s brand best)

3 – 4 tablespoons olive oil, or as needed

1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon salt

Pinch cayenne pepper

How to make Gluten-Free Crunchy Croutons:

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

Separate hotdog buns into their natural halves and slice each half lengthwise down the middle. Cut each length into 5 chunky cubes of bread. (Of course you may make these any size you like, just remember to adjust your baking time accordingly – a bit less time for smaller, a bit longer for larger)

Combine all the olive oil and spices into a small bowl. Place bread cubes into a large bowl, drizzle seasoning oil over top and carefully lift handfuls of bread cubes to distribute the seasonings well. If you find that the bread is too dry, add in a few drizzles of olive oil and combine as before.

Divide cubes between two baking sheets. Bake about 8 – 10 minutes, until golden and toasty, turning once halfway through baking time.

Remove from oven, cool on baking sheets. When completely cooled, store airtight.

Makes enough gluten-free croutons for about 8 salads in my home.









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