I’ve been experimenting with recipes from the cookbook Artisan Vegan Cheese since November. The book is brilliant! I made some vegan parmesan just before Christmas and I fell in love with it — cheese was one of the hardest things for me to give up as a vegan, and parmesan was the hardest cheese for me to say goodbye to. Since going vegan, I’ve tried a few vegan parmesan substitutes, but all of them were a white powdery substance that mimicked the cheap tubs of “parmesan” that people sometimes put on pasta (which are full of artificial crap and pale imitations of the real parmesan!). What I missed was the real deal, the hard blocks of salty parmesan which grated into soft mountains of cheese which melted onto your pasta. And the parmesan from Artisan Vegan Cheese really satisfied my longing for parmesan. I don’t fully remember what parmesan tastes like, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t exactly like parmesan — but it is salty and full of umami flavour, and makes a great addition to pasta or other dishes. I’m hooked! I’ve been making fresh batches every couple of months. I’ve mainly used it for sprinkling on pasta, but I’ve also used it, along with a cheddar from Artisan Vegan Cheese, in the best vegan mac and cheese I’ve ever had. And a few weeks ago, I used it on a Caesar salad.
I don’t know why, but I had a sudden craving for Caesar salad — which is odd because I’d never had Caesar salad before. Caesar salad normally has anchovies in it so it was a no-no even in my pre-vegan days, when I was vegetarian. It had never really appealed to me anyway. But for some reason the thought of a creamy, savoury dressing suddenly really appealed, so I made this vegan version of Caesar salad. I don’t really know how it compares to the original since I’ve never had it, but I know that it’s creamy, slightly salty and tangy, and chock full of umami — and delicious!
Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing
- 4 tbsp raw cashews
- 2 tbsp pine nuts
- 3 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- pinch garlic powder
- pinch salt
- dash vegan Worcestershire sauce or a dash of vegan oyster sauce or a dash of vegan fish sauce
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast, optional
- 1 tsp white miso
- dash agave
- 4 tbsp water
- Grind the cashews and pine nuts in a coffee/spice grinder.
- Add the ground cashews and pine nuts to a bowl along with all the other ingredients and stir to combine.
To assemble a salad, mix the dressing into salad leaves of choice (you can use Romaine lettuce, which is the traditional option, or mixed leaves if you prefer). Top with grated vegan parmesan (optional), croutons, and vegan chicken if desired. Or if you prefer to stray from the traditional route, add any other topping you like! I imagine it would pair well with chickpeas, avocado…feel free to let your imagination run wild and top with your favourite salad toppings.