There’s nothing more satisfying than feeling inspired to make a recipe, and when you scroll down to read the dreaded recipe list … YOU HAVE ALL OF THE INGREDIENTS! I don’t know about you, but this almost never happens for me. Especially when it’s a more complex recipe that I’m trying to recreate with hopes to impress either myself (yes, I actually do this) or a few guests. So it usually goes one of two ways, I either begin reading the list and give up before even I’ve even finished reading because a girl can only dream of having a kitchen filled with all of those delicious things, OR I decide to take on the challenge and find myself frantically running around the grocery store gathering all of the ingredients the night before, and usually an hour before the store closes. Can anyone else relate?
Well, the other day I was craving a caesar salad and faring well just so happened to have a dairy-free “caesar” dressing that I had been wanting to try out, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity. It turns out the recipes gods were in my favor because when I read the ingredients, which I’ll give you a fair warning is pretty long, I just so happened to have everything at my disposal… Queue recipe inspiration!!!
As I was blending the dressing in my high-speed blender, I thought “okay but dairy-free “caesar” dressing, how can this possibly taste like the real thing?” And guys, it seriously DID! I was blown away by the creamy consistency and how the flavor was almost identical to the classic caesar salad dressing that we all grew up on. And then knowing that it’s healthy and made up of real ingredients in their natural form made it that much better.
I couldn’t contain my excitement because I get pleasure out of small, ridiculous things like really good dressing (don’t judge me) and starting chopping up the salad. I used kale because it’s what I had on hand, but romaine would work just as well and would probably give it more of that classic caesar salad taste. I continue by massaging the dressing into the kale and spiced it up adding red onions and roasting chickpeas in the oven to mimic croutons. For the finishing touch, I crumbled some of my tempeh bacon on top.
Let me just tell you that this was incredibly delicious. I definitely succeeded at not only impressing myself but also the guests that I had over the following night. This salad keeps well in the fridge and almost tastes better with age since the dressing gets soaked up into the kale leaves. You can feel free to make this recipe as simple or complex as you like, but I think the dressing was definitely the star of the show.
"Caesar" Salad with Chickpea Croutons & Tempeh Bacon
- 1 stalk green kale stems removed, chopped finely
- 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
Roasted Chickpea Croutons
- 1 can chickpeas drained, rinsed well
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp pink Himalayan salt
- 1/4 - 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 package fresh tempeh
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp EVOO
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp tamari
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 1-2 cloves fresh garlic finely chopped
- 1 tsp maple syrup
Wash kale stock and place in between paper towel to pat dry
Begin destemming kale and chop into fine, edible pieces. They will wilt when you massage the dressing.
Add caesar dressing to the kale and begin the massaging process until the leaves are completely coated.
Finely chop red onion and add it to the salad.
Preheat oven to 400°F
Drain chickpeas from can and rinse thoroughly. Place chickpeas in paper towel and pat dry to remove any excess water
Place chickpeas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle olive oil and add spices.
Toss and coat the chickpeas and roast them in the oven for approx. 20 minutes. Stir occasionally until they're golden brown. They will crisp up as they dry.
Mix all of the marinade ingredients together until smooth, using a blender or a whisk.
Remove tempeh from package and steam over boiling water on the stove the for 5 minutes each side. Steaming the tempeh beforehand will help it absorb the marinade.
Preheat oven to 350F
After steaming, cut the tempeh into thin slices and line in an oven friendly baking pan.
Pour marinade over the sliced tempeh and mix to coat each piece evenly. Cover and set aside for anywhere in between 20 minutes and overnight. The longer the tempeh marinates, the better the flavor.
Preheat oven to 350F.
Place the marinated tempeh in the oven and cook for 12-15 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool.
*I have found that peeling the skins off the chickpeas after rinsing them helps to make them extra crispy as they roast. This is completely optional as it makes for a much longer process.