Eccentric Caesar Salad

Eccentric-Caesar-SaladBy Myra Goodman

This delicious Caesar salad would never have been created if my daughter Marea and I hadn’t dreamed up the idea of writing a cookbook exclusively featuring 100 percent plant-based recipes. Until then, I’d assumed that a perfect Caesar had to include an egg yolk and Parmesan cheese. Not so!  Marea’s innovative recipe pairs two very healthy ingredients to make a creamy and flavorful dressing: raw cashews and nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast flakes are nutrient dense and have a wonderful cheesy flavor. Because Marea added a pinch of curry powder to the dressing, we call it “eccentric,” but this unexpected spice is subtle and makes it extra flavorful. 

Hemp seeds are another uncommon ingredient in this recipe.  These delicious little morsels look like sesame seeds, taste similar to pine nuts, and are packed with protein and healthy omega-3 fatty acids. We sprinkle them on this salad instead of cheese, and now I eat them every day at home. Both hemp seeds and nutritional yeast are available at natural food stores and online.

What I learned from writing Straight From the Earth is that my use of animal products in cooking is habitual – not essential. When I committed to creating meals that were 100 percent plant based, I began producing scrumptious food that is extra healthy with much less impact on the earth’s resources. The food tastes great and makes me feel good. This Caesar is a great example. Just one small serving has 13 grams of protein, a third of your day’s recommended amount of fiber, 80 percent of your Vitamin A and 40 percent of your Vitamin C.  And, vegan food never has any cholesterol!

Marea said, “When I created this Caesar salad, I did a silly dance around the kitchen. Seriously, it is that good!” Topped with croutons, capers, avocado and hemp seeds, this dynamic salad will delight your taste buds.

Eccentric Caesar Salad – Serves 6

This recipe makes extra dressing that you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Caesar Dressing

½ cup/70 g raw cashews

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

3 tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 large garlic clove

¾ tsp salt

¼ tsp curry powder

Freshly ground black pepper


2 large heads romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces

2 cups/120 g Croutons

1 ripe avocado, medium dice

½ cup/65 g hemp seeds

⅓ cup/55 g capers

To make the dressing: Combine the cashews, oil, lemon juice, yeast, mustard, garlic, salt, curry powder, and pepper in a food processor and add ¼ cup plus 3 tbsp/75 ml warm water. Process until the mixture is very smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

To make the salad: Toss the romaine with ½ cup/120 ml of the dressing. Add more to taste if desired. Divide the lettuce among six plates, and top each with some of the croutons, avocado, hemp seeds, and capers. Serve immediately.

Myra Goodman, with her husband Drew, founded Earthbound Farm on their 2 ½ acre backyard in 1984. She and her husband live on their original farm in Carmel Valley, California.

Marea Goodman grew up on the farm where Earthbound Farm began, and learned to cook surrounded by an abundance of fresh organic produce. She now lives in Oakland, California, and is an apprentice midwife.

Excerpted from Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone by Myra Goodman and Marea Goodman, Chronicle Books, March 2014.

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