Vegetarian Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons

Tangy and lemony Vegetarian Caesar Salad with crunchy Homemade Croutons is a salad lovers delight.  This vegetarian version has no raw eggs and no anchovies.

I used to like Caesar Salad until I realized anchovies were one of the ingredients in almost every commercial salad dresssing and in most of the recipes I could find.  As a vegetarian this posed a problem for my palate as Don and I do not eat fish as well as meat.  I stopped buying Caesar dressing and no longer ordered Caesar salad in resturants.  Once I found a dressing without the anchovies but it was cheap and didn't taste very good.  I eventually just used a Ranch dressing on lettuce and made do with that. 

But I missed the tang of the Caesar dressing so I eventually started digging around the internet and found several recipes that used things such as tofu and cashew nuts.  The recipes really didn't seem that appealing (though I have nothing against tofu and cashews) and looked as if they would be too heavy on a light lettuce salad.  I didn't even try to make them and resigned myself to the Ranch dressing. 

Then just a couple of years ago I ran across a Caesar dressing recipe by Martha Stewart that used mayonnaise instead of raw egg yolk.  She still used the anchovies but that started my mind in motion as I searched for vegetarian Caesar dressing recipes.  I found several and eventually came up with a good combination of ingredients that I think make for a delightful dressing.

The salad is easily converted to vegan by using the suggested vegan alternatives. 

Vegetarian Caesar Salad Dressing
3 tablespoons lemon juice or 1 lemon juiced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoon real mayonnaise (Or use a vegan mayo to make this recipe vegan.)
¼ cup olive oil or any favourite oil you may have
1 or 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, optional (Leave out for vegan dressing.)

Use a blender or food processor for best results.  You may also use a whisk if you don't have a power machine. 

Place all ingredients in blender or bowl, except the oil.  Blend until ingredients are well mixed.  With the blender still running dribble in the oil.  If using a whisk, beat continually while adding the oil.  The mixture will not thicken significantly but the oil will be mixed in.  Stir in the Parmesan cheese if using. 

Makes about ¾ cup of dressing, enough for a family-sized salad.  Refrigerate any left-over dressing for no more than a week.

Homemade Croutons
2 or 3 slices bread, white, whole wheat, etc or a mixture
Butter, softened and/or Olive oil
Garlic powder
Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, etc.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Spread bread on both sides with butter or brush both sides with olive oil.  Or alternately you can mix butter and olive oil together.   Sprinkle both sides of bread lightly with garlic powder and your choice of seasoning.  Cut bread into small pieces and place in baking pan.  Bake 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and turn bread pieces and return to oven for an additonal 10-15 minutes until bread is toasted and dry but not burned.  Turn oven off but leave croutons in oven another few minutes to make sure they are thoroughly dry.  Let cool before using. 

Makes enough for family-sized salad.  Store any left-over croutons in tightly sealed container or plastic bag.

Vegetarian Caesar Salad
1 head of Romain lettuce, washed and dried
About ¼ cup thinly sliced mild onion, optional
1 recipe Vegetarian Caesar Salad Dressing
2 or 3 tablespoons imitation bacon bits
1 cup Homemade Croutons
Grated Parmesan cheese (Leave out for vegan salad.)

Tear or cut Romain lettuce into bite-size pieces and place in large salad bowl.  Sprinkle thinly sliced onions and imitation bacon bits over the lettuce.  Pour Vegetarian Caesar Salad Dressing over lettuce and toss all ingredients together.  Use as much dressing as necessary to coat the lettuce.  Sprinkle the croutons and Parmesan cheese over salad.  Serve any left-over dressing at the table.  Salad should be eaten immedialtely.  

Tangy and lemony Vegetarian Caesar Salad 
with crunchy Homemade Croutons. 


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