Caesar Pasta Salad
For the longest time, Caesar salad was one of my top restaurant orders. It didn’t matter if it was a starter or main, if it was on the menu, I wanted it. It was also one of the dishes I really missed with plant-based eating, so after a few years of lamenting the lack of good vegan Caesar dressings on the market, I finally decided to just make my own! My creamy cashew Caesar dressing has been one of my most popular recipes on social media, so I knew it had to be included in this cookbook (with a few new tweaks from the original recipe).
For this dish, I decided to take Caesar salad one step further and add pasta! Say hello to the pasta salad you never knew you needed: crisp romaine lettuce, crunchy herb and garlic croutons, smoky tofu “bacon” crumbles, and creamy cashew Caesar dressing, all tossed with chewy penne and garnished with homemade Almond Parm.
- For the Dressing
- 1 cup (146 g) whole raw cashews, soaked in water
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) cold water
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon (8 g) Almond Parm
- 1 tablespoon (18 g) white miso paste
For the Garlic Croutons
- 2 thick slices sourdough bread (or other rustic, crusty loaf)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons (38 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for tossing pasta
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced (or 1 tsp garlic powder)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or ½ tsp dried parsley and ¼ tsp each dried oregano and basil)
- 1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt
For the Salad
- 6 oz (170 g) dried penne or fusilli
- 1 large head romaine lettuce, ripped or chopped
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) cashew Caesar dressing, plus more to taste
- 1/2 cup (75 g) Tofu Bacon Crumbles
- Almond Parm
- Pepper, to taste
For the dressing, soak the cashews in water overnight or in boiling water for 1 hour if you’re pressed for time. Drain the water and add the cashews to a blender, along with the cold water and the rest of the ingredients for the dressing. Blend until smooth, then transfer to a jar and chill in the fridge until you’re ready to use it. You can make the dressing ahead of time and keep it refrigerated for 2 to 3 days.
For the croutons, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Cut the bread into large cubes or rip it into chunks. Add them to a mixing bowl, along with the olive oil, garlic, Italian seasoning, and salt. Toss well so the bread is evenly coated in the seasoning, then spread across a large baking tray and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and crunchy, flipping the croutons halfway through. Let them cool completely before adding to the salad.
Put the pasta on to cook in a pot of boiling, salted water. Cook to al dente or a little softer, if you prefer, then drain and rinse with cold water, until the pasta is completely cool. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and toss with a little olive oil to keep the noodles from sticking together.
Add the lettuce to the bowl with the pasta, then toss with the dressing, until everything is well coated. Feel free to add more if you like. Add ½ of the croutons and fold into the salad, along with ½ of the Tofu Bacon Crumbles.
If you’re serving the salad in individual bowls, divide the salad and top each bowl with more croutons, Tofu Bacon Crumbles, and Almond Parm. Otherwise, transfer it to a serving bowl and add the rest of the garnishes to the whole salad. Add pepper to finish it off and dig in!
Reprinted with permission from The Vegan Pasta Cookbook by Rebecca Hincke. Page Street Publishing Co. 2022. Photo credit: Rebecca Hincke.
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