A super simple vegan caesar salad recipe made with a cashew-less dressing and served with smoky baked tempeh strips and toasted quinoa for added crunch.
Oh my goodness do I have a salad for you today! A vegan caesar salad that features a nut-free dressing and the best-baked tempeh you'll ever try.
It makes for the perfect light lunch or dinner – I've been eating it for the past two days and still can't get enough!
Most vegan caesar dressings you see online are made with a cashew base. While I do love a good cashew dressing, sometimes I find them to be a little bit too heavy. And there are lots of you who can't tolerate nuts, so I wanted to create one that is every bit as creamy and delicious, while at the same time being light AND allergy-friendly.
The secret to today's recipe? Hemp hearts + tahini.
The hemp hearts (which you know I got from Bob's Red Mill…my fave!) give a nice boost of protein and omega 3s, while the tahini adds a lovely creaminess and slightly nutty flavor. Then you'll just need a few other simple ingredients and your blender. No waiting around for your cashews to be done soaking and I'd argue this dressing is even better than the dairy-filled alternatives (even Matt agreed which is definitely saying something!).
The second part of the recipe that makes this vegan caeasr salad particularly unique is the baked tempeh strips. This is actually the first time that I've ever shared tempeh on the blog, but it's something that I eat at home on a fairly regular basis.
What is tempeh exactly? Tempeh is made from naturally fermented soybeans and is actually a surprisingly common ingredient in many grocery stores (just look wherever they keep tofu or refrigerated vegan products). Similar to tofu, tempeh is very high in plant-based protein, but it's actually much less processed which is why I tend to choose it over tofu. And since it's fermented, you also get a bunch of beneficial bacteria like you would with kimchi, sauerkraut, and other fermented foods.
Now before we get all up and arms about soy, let me just say that I do think you should be mindful about the amount of soy you are eating. I limit my soy intake to 1 – 2 times per week. And just like when you're eating animal proteins (if you choose to do so), I want you to make sure you're purchasing the highest quality tempeh available. Look for a brand that is certified organic, uses non-GMO soybeans and has a short ingredient list. The brand I like (and see most often) is called Lightlife and my favorite variety is the flax one.
So…back to our baked tempeh strips. While the salad is delicious on its own, the strips really do take it to the next level. With a slightly sweet and smoky flavor, they kind of remind me of bacon only not as salty or crunchy. They also amp up the protein level of the salad which makes a lot more hearty and filling.
For the base, we're keeping it classic by using crispy romaine hearts as our greens. Along with the addition of chopped cherry tomatoes and toasted quinoa for some flavor and added crunch, I feel like we're reinventing caesar salad and making it so much better (and more nutritious).
You're really going to love this one. The combination of flavors and texture is so on point. Crunchy lettuce combined with juicy tomatoes, nutty quinoa, and smoky tempeh, covered in a bright, tangy and slightly spicy dressing, it's a recipe that I hope you keep coming back to.
Whether you're in need of a light weeknight dinner, hearty office lunch or the perfect side for your next dinner party, I hope you give this vegan caesar salad a try. We're totally addicted and I know this will be on the menu all Spring and Summer!
Have you ever tried making tempeh before? What's your favorite to cook it? I personally love adding to a veggie stir fry, added to a sandwich or collard wrap and of course served on top of salad. But I want to hear how you make it; just leave me a comment below!
I hope you give this one a try! Leave a comment and rate it once you've tried it – your ratings help me continue to refine and improve the recipes. AND if you do end up making it, snap a pic and share it on Instagram using #simplyquinoa so I can see!
More Tasty Tempeh Recipes to try:
- Creamy Kale Salad with Smoky Tempeh Croutons
- Meal Prep Balsamic Tempeh & Roasted Vegetable Quinoa Bowls
- Vegan “Chicken” Salad Bowls
- Vegan Cobb Salad
Cashew-less Vegan Caesar Salad with Baked Tempeh Strips
- 1/2 package organic tempeh
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon gluten-free tamari
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce
- ½ teaspoon brown rice vinegar
- 2 romaine hearts chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa lightly toasted
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons hemp seeds I used Bob's Red Mill
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon capers
- ¾ teaspoon caper juice
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- Juice of ½ a lemon 1 teaspoon
- 1 garlic clove
- ¼ cup water
- Salt + pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice the tempeh into thin strips and add to a bowl. Top with maple syrup, tamari, hot sauce and brown rice vinegar and toss to coat.
- Arrange the tempeh on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes until slightly crispy and golden brown, flipping halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cool while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
- Add the chopped romaine and cherry tomatoes to a large bowl and set aside.
- Lightly toast the quinoa in dry skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown and fragrant. Set aside to cool while you prepare the dressing.
- In a blender combine tahini, hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, capers, caper juice, mustard, lemon juice, garlic and water to a blender. Blend on high until completely smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
- Add quinoa to the salad along with the dressing and toss to combine. Serve into bowls or plates and top with tempeh pieces!
New to cooking quinoa? Grab your FREE Quinoa Starter Guide!
Become part of the Simply Quinoa community and receive weekly emails with exclusive content that I only share in email, as well as my in-depth guide to starting your quinoa journey.
This post was sponsored by Bob’s Red Mill in celebration of National Nutrition Month. Bob’s is my favorite source of healthy, nutritious ingredients! Stay tuned all month long as we share simple and delicious recipes using the amazing products from Bob’s. Thank you for supporting the companies I believe in! xo
Want more healthy salad recipes?
Follow my board on Pinterest!