I wanted to make a contribution to a potluck, and with Father’s Day and just plain summer bbq’s around every corner, I needed to find something that was worthy of a get-together. My potluck item was more for me since I go to family bbq’s where there is usually a veggie and I pick through everything else, but this salad is a perfect accompaniment and everyone can dig in! It is my Vegan Caesar Dressing and Easy Salad and it turned out great!
I love Caesar dressing, it has the necessary spiciness to make any salad shine. But who needs anchovies? Really gross right? And it normally is very creamy in texture and full of fat, and not the good fats that we need or want. The bottled kind is good, but when looking for the vegan version tend to be twice the price of plain old Kraft bottles.
In comes the Vegetarian Times weekly newsletter and the recipe I used as a guide. I will give my changes but please go to the recipe here to view the complete one. I was skeptical of the way it would turn out-anything new is scary right? And trying to make your own salad dressing is scary. Just like everything else that I make-it could have something go wrong. But, I have to say this turned out great!
So what I did different was: used garlic salt instead of powder, no salt at all because of the garlic salt, no garlic cloves just jarred minced, and used lemon juice out of a bottle not fresh squeezed. I had never blanched a nut before, but soaking it was probably the easiest thing I have ever done in the kitchen. I also added pepper after I mixed it all together with the salad. Not to many differences, but enough. I didn’t want to try to change the whole flavor or the dressing on the first go-around at it. Also, this makes a ton of dressing. I only used about half on my salad, which is great because I always love to have leftovers.
So for the salad I knew I wanted have a salad reminiscent of the amazing Olive Garden salad. I would love a vegan alternative to that dressing, but the above is pretty dang close. I kept the actual salad as simple as possible. With unbearable Texas heat, there is no need to heat the place up or spend too much time standing in the kitchen chopping things up. I love the simplicity of the Olive Garden salad. I kept all those wonderful veggies (lettuce, tomato, red onion and olives) and added two other things.
The first was unusual to me in a salad. Quinoa-yes I had to boil it but I had used some in another recipe also so it was a two-fer for me. A grain in a salad always seems a bit off to me, like why add calories to a salad. But with a BBQ that may not have vegan fare I decided to have a little something different. And it turned out good with quinoa! The other thing I added was avocado. I mean, what is a salad without avocado? The spices were awesome with the creamy avocado. The only changes I would make for this whole salad, was add pepper to the dressing recipe and less red onion. That flavor takes over everything!
Vegan Caesar Dressing and Easy Salad:
Visit VT to get full dressing recipe
Half Bunch Spinach, torn roughly
3 Tomatoes, de-seeded and chopped
1/2 Red Onion, chopped small
1 C Cooked Quinoa
1 Can Black Olives, chopped
2 Avocado, chopped
1. Toss all dressing ingredients into a blender and let ‘er whirl.
2. Clean all veggies.
3. Pull stems off spinach and tear into smallish pieces and toss into bowl.
4. Quarter tomatoes then de-seed in sink or trash. Chop and drop in bowl.
5. Halve a small red onion and chop one half into small pieces-add to bowl.
6. Drain olives then chop into small pieces; add to bowl.
7. Add quinoa and dressing and mix well. At this point add the pepper and any other spices you may want.
8. Chop avocado and fold in to the salad.