Vegan Caesar Salad with Spiced Chickpeas

vegan caesar salad with chickpeas and croutons in a white bowl

Creamy, tangy, salty Caesar dressing—is there anything better? Unfortunately for vegans, strict vegetarians, or just your average anchovy hater, classic Caesar dressing with eggs, Parmesan cheese and yes, perfect little anchovies, is not an option. Well, in my opinion, foregoing Caesar salads all together is definitely not an option, so I sought out to create the easiest-ever vegan Caesar salad that anyone can enjoy. Topped with crisp, spiced chickpeas and homemade croutons, it’s enough for a full meal for two or tasty side dish that’ll have everyone eyeing seconds. I still love the original Caesar, but oh my, is this version delicious.

It starts with the dressing which, unlike other vegan Caesar dressings, requires zero blending or soaking or extra appliances. Just grab a bowl and whisk together creamy tahini, fresh lemon juice, and olive oil with a touch of Dijon mustard, honey, and garlic. A few shakes of nutritional yeast provide cheesy flavor, while a splash of soy sauce adds salty umami that an anchovy would otherwise provide. 

An important first step is to massage your kale—yep, use your hands to knead, squeeze, and ring out all the knots of those hearty leaves until they soften. This helps tenderize kale’s tough texture, removes any bitterness, and readies it for the dressing. 

Quick note about the croutons: they are not your typical, baked, crunchy croutons. They are simply well-toasted until deeply golden brown, crisp on the outside, and chewy on the inside. Just drizzle them with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and they are ready to eat. I started making croutons this way because I was too lazy to turn on the oven and wait for them to bake, but now I actually prefer the warm, soft cubes of toast instead of mouth-scratching bread rocks. It’s a win-win.

If you’re not serving this as the main, it would be the perfect side dish for:

How to make vegan caesar salad

kale and romaine in a silver bowl

Add the kale to a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Using your hands, massage the oil and salt into the kale until it is evenly coated and you can feel the kale start to soften. Toss in the romaine.

vegan caesar dressing in a white bowl with a spoon

In a small bowl or measuring cup, make the vegan caesar dressing: Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and soy sauce. Whisking constantly, add in ¼ cup olive oil. Stir in the nutritional yeast. If needed, adjust the consistency with a splash of water. The dressing should be creamy but pourable. Season to taste with salt and lots of pepper.

Pour 3/4 of the dressing over the kale and romaine and toss to coat. Add in the rest of the dressing if you think it needs more. Set aside while you make the chickpeas.

spiced chickpeas in a skillet

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium. Add in the chickpeas, garlic powder, paprika, and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat. Cook the chickpeas until warmed through and slightly crisp, about 5 minutes, turning down the heat if the spices start to burn. Taste and season with more salt as needed. Add the chickpeas to the salad.

three slices of toasted bread on a cutting board

Meanwhile, toast the bread until deeply golden brown. Drizzle each side with olive oil and season with salt. Slice the bread into ½-inch pieces, add to the salad. Toss salad again to combine all ingredients and serve, passing extra black pepper at the table.

close up of vegan caesar salad with chickpeas and croutons in a white bowl

Vegan Caesar Salad with Spiced Chickpeas

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Dinner; Side Dish American
By Samantha Serves: 2 as a main dish, 4 as a side dish
Prep Time: 35 minutes Cooking Time: 5 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes

The easiest-ever vegan Caesar salad topped with crisp, spiced chickpeas and soft, chewy homemade croutons. No blender required!

Ingredients

  • 1 small bunch curly or lacinato kale, stemmed and leaves chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 romaine heart, chopped into bite-sized pieces (3-4 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp tahini
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon), plus more as needed
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1 large garlic clove, grated or pressed
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3 1/2-inch thick slices whole wheat bread, sourdough, or country loaf (5-6 oz)

Instructions

1

Add the kale to a large bowl, drizzle with olive oil and a pinch of salt. Using your hands, massage the oil and salt into the kale until it is evenly coated and you can feel the kale start to soften. Toss in the romaine.

2

In a small bowl or measuring cup, make the vegan caesar dressing: Whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, honey, garlic, and soy sauce. Whisking constantly, slowly add in ¼ cup olive oil. Stir in the nutritional yeast. If needed, adjust the consistency with a splash of water. The dressing should be creamy but pourable. Season to taste with salt and lots of pepper.

3

Pour 3/4 of the dressing over the kale and romaine and toss to coat. Add in the rest of the dressing if you think it needs more. Set aside while you make the chickpeas.

4

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium. Add in the chickpeas, garlic powder, paprika, and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat. Cook the chickpeas until warmed through and slightly crisp, about 5 minutes, turning down the heat if the spices start to burn. Taste and season with more salt as needed. Add the chickpeas to the salad.

5

Meanwhile, toast the bread until deeply golden brown. Drizzle each side with olive oil and season with salt. Slice the bread into ½-inch pieces, add to the salad. Toss salad again to combine all ingredients and serve, passing extra black pepper at the table.

Notes

If you've dressed the salad and feel like it needs more dressing, just drizzle it with a little extra tahini, olive oil, and lemon juice. Toss and season with salt.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    martha
    August 2, 2021 at 11:00 am

    Wow~ that looks awesome! I can’t wait to try this one! Thanks AHC 🙂

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