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March 29, 2016

by Alyssa

Cashew-Less Vegan Caesar Salad with Baked Tempeh Strips

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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.

Vegan Caesar Salad made with a cashew-less dressing and baked tempeh strips - so easy and SO delicious!

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!

CASHEW-LESS Vegan Caesar Dressing made with hemp seeds, tahini and loads of other yummy ingredients!

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!).

How to make perfect baked tempeh -- tastes like bacon only healthy + vegan!

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.

This is the BEST vegan caesar salad I've ever tasted...AND the dressing is nut-free!!

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).

This is the BEST vegan caesar salad I've ever tasted...AND the dressing is nut-free!!

This is the BEST vegan caesar salad I've ever tasted...AND the dressing is nut-free!!

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.

Cashew-Free Vegan Caesar Salad! Made without any nuts, no soaking required and it's SO FLAVORFUL!

The most AMAZING vegan caesar salad dressing -- made without any nuts, oils, dairy AND it takes less than 3 minutes!

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!

Your turn…

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!

xo Alyssa

Nut-Free Vegan Caesar Salad! This is the most EPIC salad I've ever tasted -- it's amazing!!!


More Tasty Tempeh Recipes to try:

Cashew-less Vegan Caesar Salad with Baked Tempeh Strips

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.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 323kcal
Author Alyssa Rimmer
Print Pin
Cashew-Free Vegan Caesar Salad! Made without any nuts, no soaking required and it's SO FLAVORFUL!
4.67 from 3 votes



  • 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!


Calories: 323kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 462mg | Potassium: 742mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 10285IU | Vitamin C: 37.6mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 5.7mg

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


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Vegan Caesar Salad! Made with a cashew-less dressing and topped with smoky baked tempeh strips! This is so healthy and SO FLAVORFUL!

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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

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  1. The dressing was excellent. Approved by my carnivore boyfriend. I’ll be posting it on my blog and insta, crediting you of course! insta:@vegoutkitchen
    Blog is in progress and not launched yet, but it will be: http://www.vegoutkitchen.com

  2. Sounds yummy. I’m a big fan of tahini and tempeh, but let them both fall out of my diet. Time to add them back in!

    Will this dressing still be yummy if I omit the nutritional yeast and hemp seed hearts? I could replace the hemp with raw sunflower seeds or flax seeds if you think that will work.

    Also glad for the link to Bob’s Red Mill. I buy BRM products at Whole Foods, but had no idea they offer so many of the foods I eat.

    • Hi there – You can certainly leave out the nutritional yeast, but I wouldn’t substitute the hemp seeds with either of those. I would just add more tahini! And you’re welcome for the link – it really incredible the variety they offer! xo

  3. Hi there
    presumably the quinoa was cooked first? You dont specify but wouldnt think you could eat it raw?


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