Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Recipe Redux: Vegan Caesar Salad with Beet Bacon

If every meal could have a smoky and/or spicy hint to it, I would be a very happy camper. Yes I'm that person that likes S'Mores crunchy and burnt. That compulsively purchases hot sauce (extra love if you mail me some. I'll swap you for some Colorado sauce). That doesn't eat meat, but has recently discovered liquid smoke and wants to use it daily. (Just a little bit...don't talk to me about the artificial flavors...). So I was very please when I found out the Recipe Redux challenge for this month was not about green juice, cleanses nor detoxes (nah nah nah I can't hear you), but about smoky, spicy dishes. HECK YES!
Start Smoking in the New YearThe New Year is heating up with smoke and spiciness. From boldly flavored smoked salts to actual smoking techniques, subtly smoked food is on-trend. The same can be said for spice as we savor heat from harissa, sriracha and smoked paprika. Show us the healthy dish you’re heating up with smoke and/or spiciness.
And while I have a recipe for some bombdiggity smoked tofu, I can't improve upon it. And unfortunately I'm not cool enough to have a smoking gun. And I didn't want to just get some bacon seitan and call it a day. 

So I drew inspiration from some amazing people and places and make this Caesar Salad. Confession: I've never had a non-vegan Caesar. Because before I went veg I was a bleu cheese dressing gal and anchovies have never excited me. But I have eaten MANY vegan Caesars. It (alongside the French fries) is one of the ways I test a restaurant. Is this scientific or even logical? Likely not. 

When in Vancouver last, the Cesar I ordered at Heirloom was a gigantic. (larger than my face). (literally). (and no, not literally in a figurative sense). Besides its size and saltiness, I gave them mad props for including beet bacon. Crisp, salty, smoky, beet bacon. Then Collin had to go and post the Caesar to end all Caesars (I mean, All Hail!).  And because A. I want to be half as cool as Collin when I grow up and B. I was unable to fly the 1,500 odd miles to eat either salad, I made my own. 

Fun Fact: The Caesar salad has absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Julius. Sorry to disappoint. It was invented by restaurateur Caesar Cardini in 1924 in Tijuana Mexico. Now you know. Pull that fun fact out at trivia next week. You're welcome.

Vegan Caesar Salad with Beet Bacon

Salad Ingredients:
  • 1 head of romaine, chopped, per person
  • Caesar dressing
  • Dairy-free parmesan
  • Beet Bacon
  • Croutons
  • Roasted Chickpeas 
  • Capers

To assemble this salad, get your hands dirty and really mix the salad dressing in with the romaine. Top with pine nut parmesan (or nutritional yeast), beet bacon, croutons, roasted chickpeas, and capers. Enjoy! 

(no, I'm not that much of a jerk to leave off the recipes for 5 of those "ingredients.")

Vegan Caesar Dressing
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 8-10 hours (overnight is easiest)
  • 2 tsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp tamari
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Blend all ingredients together in a high-powered blender. Add more water if you'd like a thinner consistency. Keeps for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. 
Dairy-free Parmesan 
Undoubtedly you've seen recipes for pine nut parm before. I was skeptical at first, but it's actually pretty good. If you don't like pine nuts, or don't want to shell out the cash for them, just sprinkle nutritional yeast on top. 
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup raw sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  1. Pulse together in a food processor until coarse. Should be finer than whole pine nuts, but a little coarser than just sesame seeds. 
Beet Bacon
If you're not cool with liquid smoke, try replacing with 1-2 teaspoons of smoked paprika. What a powerhouse of a spice! 
  • 6 small beets
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 Tbsp liquid smoke
  • 3 Tbsp tamari
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion granules
  1. Slice beets thinly
  2. Mix together all other marinade ingredients.
  3. Put beets in jar. Add marinade
  4. Let sit for 15 min-2 hours (depending on how much time you have). Shake jar every once in a while to evenly distribute marinade. 
  5. Cover a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper.
  6. Place marinated beets on pan, making sure they do not overlap. 
  7. Cook at 400F for 30-45 minutes. After 20 minutes of cooking, flip to other side. Check beets every 10 minutes to ensure they do not burn. (Because they burn quickly and unexpectedly. Learned THAT the hard way). 
I won't hate if you use store-bought. But while you're making the beet bacon and roasted chickpeas in your oven, might as well throw some stale bread in there too!
  • Day-old bread, cut into your-favorite-crouton-size. (some like 'em big, some like 'em small. Some like 'em crisp, some like 'em soft. play around yo!)
  • Sprayable oil (canola, sunflower or grapeseed preferred)
  • Smoked paprika
  1. Cover a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper. Lay bread cubes on top. Spray with oil, sprinkle with paprika, stir and repeat once. 
  2. Bake at 400F for ~30 minutes, or until they reach your preferred state of crispness. 
Smoky Roasted Chickpeas
Because this dish needed a protein boost. A smoky protein boost at that.
  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Toss chickpeas in olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper. 
  2. Bake for 45 minutes at 400F until crisp. 
  3. If you have leftovers, munch on them as a snack! 
Whew. I know, you're like that's a lot of recipes for ONE salad. While it may seem arduous, if you pre-prep the ingredients on a day off, and keep your oven heated to 400F, it actually doesn't take that much time and you'll have an amazeballs salad to post #saladporn pics on Instagram, all. week. long.

Want more smoky and spicy dishes? Check out these other Recipe Reduxes: