Tag Archives: salad

Doing the impossible: Make a vegan Caesar worth celebrating

I’ve heard that many restaurant chefs despise making Caesar salads, but I don’t understand why. Who wouldn’t love making lemony-cheesy-black-pepper-salad dreams come true?

So my resourceful little self has always had a solid Caesar salad game going at home. My original recipe was rooted in the classic for years: raw egg yolk, umami-laden anchovies, nutty Parmesan cheese, tart lemon juice. I then top that basic Caesar salad with almost any protein to turn it into a truly satisfying meal. Steak, shrimp or chicken work well, but so do turkey meatballs, roasted pork tenderloin and — my secret weapon —  just about every kind of canned fish available.

Over time, I’ve adapted and adjusted my beloved Caesar salad recipe to account for changes in my family. When I was pregnant, I avoided raw eggs. My daughter’s gluten intolerance kicked the sourdough croutons to the curb. And my vegetarian niece and nephew had me searching for a worthy umami substitute for anchovies.

Recently, I faced my greatest challenge: a completely vegan Caesar salad for some dinner guests. No Parmesan cheese? I thought it would be impossible. But you guys, here is the impossible: a totally tasty vegan Caesar salad.

This salad gets its rich umami flavor from a cool combination of miso paste and nutritional yeast (not to be confused with brewer’s yeast). The croutons are back in for this recipe, but I just leave them out for my gluten-free daughter. To turn this salad into a fully vegan meal, top with nuts, seeds, lentils, white beans or tofu. And a note to my carnivore friends: Don’t let the word vegan scare you off this recipe. It’s also great topped with a few ounces of meat.

 

VEGAN CAESAR SALAD

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Servings: 6

1/3 cup raw unsalted cashews

Boiling water

1/4 cup toasted walnuts

1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes

1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons white miso paste

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

3 tablespoons cool water

3 hearts romaine lettuce, roughly chopped

2 cups bread cubes, brushed with olive oil and toasted

In a small bowl, combine the cashews and enough boiling water to cover them. Let sit for several minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the walnuts, nutritional yeast and granulated garlic. Pulse until the mixture has the texture of sand. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.

Drain the cashews and transfer them to the blender. Add the lemon juice, fresh garlic, mustard, olive oil, miso, pepper and cool water. Blend until the mixture is mostly smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings.

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the dressing, then top with the bread cubes and the ground walnut mixture.

Nutrition information per serving: 220 calories; 140 calories from fat (64 percent of total calories); 16 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 330 mg sodium; 16 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 7 g protein.

 

About the author

Food Network star Melissa d’Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook, “Supermarket Healthy.”

The fine art of the simple tossed salad

Summer time is salad time. When it’s hot out and the garden is bountiful, everyone’s in the mood for a light and refreshing entree salad.

And what could be easier? You just toss together a bunch of lettuce with some cooked protein, add an excellent dressing, and boom! You’re done. Or not. Turns out that if you pay a little more attention to the components of the salad, you won’t need to rely quite so much on the dressing to provide all the flavor. In fact, it’s easy to make something wonderful.

Here’s the basic formula per serving of salad: 2 cups of lettuce, a heaping 1/3 cup of halved cherry tomatoes, 1/3 cup of sliced cucumbers, a quarter of an avocado (cubed), and 1 tablespoon of dressing. The key, though, is to season each and every part one at a time, and to do so at just the right moment.

It’s also important to deal with the water. Vegetables contain a high percentage of water. If you remove some of that water, you concentrate and amplify the vegetable’s flavor.

Let’s start with the cherry tomatoes. You’ll be amazed at how much more tomato-y they’ll taste after they’ve been salted and drained, preferably for 30 minutes. Cucumbers, likewise, become more cucumber-y with salting, though the salt also tenderizes them. If you care more about a cuke’s crunch than its flavor, skip the salting of them.

By the way, here’s a little tip I learned from Rachael Ray about how to slice a raft of cherry tomatoes all at once rather than one-by-one. Put a whole bunch of them on a small plastic lid, then place another lid on top of them. Stabilize the tomatoes by gently pressing the lids together. Insert a serrated knife into the gap between the lids and slice all of the tomatoes in half at one time.

While the tomatoes and the cucumbers are draining, you should cut up the avocado, put it in the bottom of the salad bowl, season it, and toss it with the dressing. This last step prevents it from oxidizing and turning color. Pile on the additional ingredients as they become ready. Note: To remove the pit from an avocado safely, cut it into quarters. As tempting as it might be to imitate the TV chefs _ who cut the avocado in half, slam a huge knife into the pit, and twist out the pit _ it’s a technique that has landed many a home cook in the emergency room.

After rinsing the lettuce, spin it dry or gently pat it dry with paper towels. Dressing will slide right off of wet greens. Keep in mind that a variety of lettuces is more enticing than just one kind, and mixing in whole herb leaves with the greens makes a salad extra special.

Finally, after all of the components have been prepped and added to the bowl, sprinkle the greens with a little salt and pepper and toss the salad with your hands. Lettuce bruises easily. Your hands are exactly the right tool for this delicate job. Now that your basic salad is dressed and ready to go, top it off with grilled chicken, shrimp, beef, pork or tofu to turn it into a substantial summertime entree.

TOSSED SALAD 101

Start to finish: 50 minutes (15 active)

Servings: 4

1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes

Kosher salt

6 ounces English cucumber

1 firm ripe avocado

8 cups lightly packed torn lettuce

Ground black pepper

1/4 cup dressing

Set a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.

Halve the cherry tomatoes and arrange cut side up on the wire rack. Sprinkle the cut sides liberally with salt, then turn the tomatoes so the cut sides are down. Let stand for 30 minutes. Peel the cucumber if it has a thick skin. Halve it lengthwise, then slice it thinly crosswise. Toss the sliced cucumber with some salt and let drain in a colander set in the sink for 30 minutes.

Quarter the avocado, remove the pit and lay the avocado, skin side down on the counter. Using a paring knife, make a crisscross pattern in the flesh in 1/2-inch cubes, cutting down to the skin. Use a spoon to lift out the cubes and transfer them to a salad bowl. Sprinkle the avocado lightly with salt and toss gently with a fork. Add the dressing and toss again.

When the tomatoes and cucumber have sat for 30 minutes, pat them dry with paper towels and add them to the bowl with the avocado. Add the lettuce, sprinkle with salt and pepper and use your hands to toss the salad very gently just until the leaves are coated. Serve right away. 

Nutrition information per serving: 140 calories; 90 calories from fat (64 percent of total calories); 10 g fat (1.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 440 mg sodium; 13 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 3 g protein.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and has written three cookbooks, including
Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”