Vegan Caesar Salad with Crispy Chickpea Croutons

Hi friends! I've been a little quiet on the blog for the last few weeks because I've been a busy little bee! I've been working on some projects that have taken a lot of my allocated work time. Balancing work and family time is something I'm still figuring out. Progress, not perfection! That's what I keep telling myself :) 

We also just got back from a trip to California which was SO. MUCH. FUN! We visited my brother who lives out there and had the best time. To be honest, I was a liiiiitle curious/nervous about the longer flight and the 3 hour time change, but Rhys handled it like a champ! I think I mentally prepared myself for the absolute worst (crying the whole way on the plane, up at 3am every morning due to the time change, etc.). Things went exceedingly better than expected and I was relieved! We did pretty much everything we wanted to do, were home and in bed on the early side, and up starting our day before the major hustle and bustle of southern California started. That's what I call a pretty perfect trip! The flight on the way there was a completely full flight so handling an active 11 month old in a small space who was overly tired was quite a workout. I was basically sweating the entire flight LOL...whew! But there was no real crying and he did great overall. On the way back, there was one open seat on the entire plane and it was the one in our row! No one wants to take a chance sitting next to a baby ha. But it was SO nice having that extra seat. Rhys was able to spread out more and it was overall just a much more enjoyable experience. Rhys is such a charming little ham. He made friends with the people sitting around us by smiling and waving at everyone we saw. 

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But you probably came here for the food.

I am so excited to share this DEEEEElicious salad that I know you are going to love. 

Vegan. Caesar. With crispy chickpea croutons. I'm really into it. It's such an easy dish to whip up and it's a great way to spruce up a regular ole' boring salad. This salad is a great way to add some leafy greens into your diet. Leafy greens are like little nuggets of nutrients! And the more we can eat, the better. Many people know that certain lettuces, like ice burg lettuce, tend to be lower in nutrients than other varieties (although ice burg DOES have nutrients!). Sometimes romaine lettuce gets confused as falling into this lower-nutrient category. However, romaine lettuce nutrition is actually quite impressive due to it's high levels of antioxidants and other vitamins and minerals including folate, manganese, and many many more. 

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The components of this salad come together pretty quickly which makes for a great lunch at home or easy base or addition to any evening meal. Each component of this salad is incredibly flavorful on it's own, but come together in a beautiful, delicious harmony! Every time I make this salad, I can't help but snack on a few (or a lot) of the crispy roasted chickpeas. Talk about a yummy snack! You could easily make a double batch of these and save the rest for a protein packed flavorful snack! I'm all about a good 2 for 1 ;)  

Speaking of the chickpeas, I love that this salad has some protein..and a yummy one at that. Plant protein for the win! Also, THE DRESSINGGG!! I can't believe we haven't talked about the dressing yet! It' good. Really, really good. A good dressing is the make or break aspect of a salad. Otherwise it's just some lettuce and toppings. Meh. You know it's a good sign when you start eating the dressing with a spoon straight out of the blender. I've made this dressing a few times just to have around during the week. I have used it on salads, drizzled it over roasted veggies, and have even used it to add an extra punch of flavor to plain cooked lentils. 

This is the type of salad you can't really go wrong with. And also the type of salad you will crave (at least we do!). 

Let me know what you think!

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Vegan Caesar Salad with Crispy Chickpea Croutons

| Makes 5-6 small bowls or 2-3 larger bowls |

Ingredients

For the croutons: 

  • 1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (or to taste)

For the dressing: 

  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews, soaked for at least 30 minutes 
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • juice of half a medium sized lemon (about 2-3 Tbsp)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder 
  • Sea salt + pepper to taste 
  • 1-2 Tbsp water (if needed to thin out the dressing)

For the salad: 

  • 2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegan parmesan OR parmesan cheese 

Instructions 

  1. Soak cashews in a bowl of hot water for at least 30 minutes (the longer, the better!). 
  2. Preheat oven to 400ยฐF. Place chickpeas in a towel and gently rub dry (it's okay if some skins fall off). Place onto a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Gently roll around to coat.
  3. Sprinkle on the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes at 400ยฐF, then gently roll the chickpeas around in the baking sheet. Roast for another 10 to 20 minutes, until lightly golden. They will firm up as they cool.
  4. Prepare the dressing by adding the cashews and all other dressing ingredients into a high-speed blender or food processor, and blend on high until the dressing is super smooth. You can add a splash of water if necessary to get it blending. Add additional salt to taste and adjust other seasonings, if needed. Set aside.
  5. Place prepared romaine lettuce into an extra large bowl. Add the dressing onto lettuce and toss until fully coated. Season with a pinch of salt and mix again. Now sprinkle on the roasted chickpeas and the vegan Parm.  Serve immediately and enjoy!

xoxo, 

Lauren

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