Vegan Caesar Pasta Salad

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I’ve been making variations of this salad forever. It’s so great to take to a potluck because it can feed a lot of people. When the weather warms up (it’s pretty much summer here in Houston now), this salad is just what I’m in the mood to eat.

Traditional Caesar salads include parmesan cheese and anchovies. To make it vegan, I include nutritional yeast to get the cheesy taste and kelp powder to mimic the fish flavor. You should be able to find kelp powder at Whole Foods and maybe even your local grocery store in the organic spice section. (Houston peeps, I got mine at HEB.)  Most Caesar salads also include croutons which I skipped this time, but if you like that, make a batch using day old bread cut into cubes and sauteed with olive oil, salt and pepper.

One thing that kind of makes this salad is the garlic in the dressing. I took two cloves of peeled garlic and created a paste with some kosher salt. This is pretty easy to do once you get the hang of it: smash the garlic and slice it; add salt and begin dragging your knife over the garlic until the juices release and a paste begins to form.

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Caesar salad dressing usually includes raw egg, which I don’t do. My dressing is more like a Caesar vinaigrette, a very light version that is packed with flavor.Image

Vegan Caesar Pasta Salad

Serves 6

1 head romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces

8 oz twirly pasta (can use gluten free, such as quinoa or brown rice), cooked and cooled

3 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 head broccoli, chopped, steamed and cooled

1 bunch asparagus, chopped, steamed and cooled

2-4 small tomatoes, chopped

1 avocado, chopped

Sea salt and pepper

In a large serving bowl, layer salad by placing lettuce on the bottom. Add pasta and scatter remaining vegetables on the top. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with Caesar vinaigrette on the side.

Caesar Vinaigrette

1/4 cup olive oil

3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 tsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp kelp powder

1 tsp Vegenaise (vegan mayonaise)

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1 tsp+ kosher salt

Black pepper

In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, yeast, kelp and mayo. On a small cutting board, smash garlic cloves and thinly slice. Add 1 tsp salt and drag sharp knife over garlic to release juice and create a paste. Add garlic paste to oil/vinegar mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

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