When I did my teacher training in Costa Rica the chef at the retreat made the most insane vegan caesar salad with chunks of roasted aubergine, a sunflower seed “parmesan” sprinkle and a delicious creamy cashew dressing. One of the first things I did when I got back home was to try and recreate it, and I think I’ve come pretty close! I’ve swapped the aubergine for creamy avocado and the nutty sprinkle for spicy roasted chickpeas, but the dressing is the same - thick, garlicky, creamy from the soaked cashews, and with a bit of a lemony tang.
I’ve had the recipe ready and waiting for months now, so hadn’t actually eaten it for a while when I made it for photographing, and oh baby, I forgot how much I love it! I know a lot of people hate vegan versions of brownies/burgers/pizzas that claim to be just as indulgent as the original, but in this case I’m sticking to my guns. I genuinely think this is as naughty and delicious, if not more so, than normal caesar dressing… And if you don’t believe me then you will have to make it and see for yourself!
1/2 cup cashews (soaked over night)
Salt and pepper
1 clove of garlic
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch of chilli powder
2 tablespoons water
1 tin chickpeas
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons olive oil
Big handful rocket
Big handful watercress
Big handful baby kale
Handful of cress
Small handful of sunflower seeds
Soak your cashews in water overnight or for at least 4 hours. When you are ready to make your dressing, drain and rinse the cashews then blend them with all the other ingredients until totally smooth.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.In a baking tray mix the chickpeas with paprika, olive oil and salt, then bake for 20 minutes, or until crunchy. You might need to take them out a give them a stir halfway through to check they cook evenly.
When the dressing and chickpeas are ready, simply chop up the cucumber and avocado and toss both with the salad leaves and cress in a big salad bowl. Pour over the dressing and give the salad a good stir to spread the dressing evenly, then sprinkle with the baked chickpeas and sunflower seeds before serving!
*You can use any salad leaves you like, spinach and lamb’s lettuce are also great, I just like to use a mixture of different types to make it a bit more exciting.