Caesar Salad with Capers and Crispy Chickpea Croutons
I had mixed feelings about Caesar salad. Then I tried this one!
I have mixed feelings about caesar salad. As a kid, I hated eggs. My mom would mix in a lot of American cheese when she scrambled them and I still struggled to get them down. We had pet chickens and I refused to eat their eggs – the yokes were a deep orange so they looked weird to me compared to the store-bought versions with their pale yellow centers.
My mom would sometimes make a caesar salad with a soft boiled egg, anchovies and parmesan cheese. Between the egg and the anchovies I practically ran from the dinner table. Sometimes she and my father would order it at a fancy Italian restaurant where the Maitre d with a napkin draped over his forearm, would prepare it at the table using a minimally cooked egg, lots of olive oil, fried croutons and lots of fresh grated parmesan cheese. The anchovies hidden in the dressing, I guess. But he lost me at the egg. Every time.
I was delighted when Vegan Caesar salads started popping up on plant-based menus and blogs around the country. And I was even more excited when the New York Times Cooking pages created their own vegan version. It was the best I have ever made and eaten! Here is my modified version:
For the crispy chickpeas:
1 – 2 cans chickpeas, drained
1 tsp garlic granules
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
For the dressing:
1 cup raw cashews or pieces
3/4 cup water
1 tsp kelp granules
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves
1 T caper brine (from jar)
1 tso dijon mustard
1 tsp white miso paste
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
For the salad:
1 small bunch lacinato (dinasour) kale, thinly sliced
1 large head romaine lettuce (or romaine hearts), chopped
3 T capers
Start with the crispy chickpeas:
If you have an air fryer, line a wide bowl with a kitchen towel (or paper towels) and toss the drained chickpeas in. Toss them on the towel to remove excess liquid. Remove towel and squeeze the lemon over the chickpeas and toss. Add the garlic, salt and pepper.
Air fry at 380 for 12 minutes. Check and toss, cook 5 minutes or more. Allow chickpeas to cool in the air fryer.
If you don’t have an air frier, just pre-heat your oven to 350. Line a wide bowl with a kitchen towel (or paper towels) and toss the drained chickpeas in. Toss them on the towel to remove excess liquid. Remove towel and squeeze the lemon over the chickpeas and toss. Add the garlic, salt and pepper.
Line a baking sheet with sides with parchment paper and spread the chickpeas evenly. Cook for 20 minutes, flipping at least once, until crispy. Shut the oven off and let the chickpeas cool in the oven.
To make the Caesar dressing:
Blend all the ingredients (see above) in a high speed blender until smooth. I like using a Nutribullet or Magic Bullet.
Place the kale in a large salad bowl, pour on a little of your dressing, and massage the kale with your hands. Add the romaine and more dressing, then toss together. Garnish with capers and the crispy roasted chickpeas you just made.
Note: Ovens and air fryers vary, so you may need to adjust the time. It is best to check a few times during cooking. The chickpeas are done when golden and crispy. Letting them cool in the air fryer or oven helps with crispiness.