East Meets West: Challenge Caesar Salad

Good morning everyone,

There are a few recipes from The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins that I have been dreading attempting to amend to suit a vaishno diet.  These recipes have meat or fish or egg as such an important component of the dish that it’s a daunting task to think about.  In the case of Caesar salad and Caesar salad dressing, there are several issues – bacon is popular in these salads, the dressing usually contains anchovies, and a Caesar salad has Parmesan cheese, which contains calf rennet (otherwise it’s not Parmesan).  To complicate matters more, this recipe calls for bread spread with an anchovy paste as an accompaniment to the salad.

The recipes to be tackled today are found on page 164 of the cookbook – Lemony Caesar Salad, Anchovy Spread and Caesar Dressing.

Our versions are Caesar Salad with Walnuts, Portobello Spread, and Himmat’s Caesar Dressing.

Caesar Salad with Walnuts

Caesar Salad is heavy on the calories.  Some estimates suggest that you might as well have the side of fries because it contains as many calories as the Caesar.  Let’s see what we can do about that, shall we?

1/4 cup chopped walnuts
6 thin slices, egg-free whole grain bread
1 – 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Portobello Spread (recipe below)
1 large head romaine lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup Himmat’s Caesar Dressing (recipe below)
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, cleaned and halved

Heat a small frying pan over medium heat.  Add the walnuts and dry roast for about 3 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning, until fragrant.  Set aside.  Toast the bread.  Spread four slices with the Portobello Spread and scatter these with the dry roasted walnuts.  Cut the remaining two pieces of toast into small cubes for croutons.  Drizzle lightly with olive oil, a little ground pepper and a pinch of salt.  Roast these cubes in a medium frying pan over medium heat until they begin to dry and turn a little browner.  Shake the pan frequently to prevent burning.  Set aside.

Tear the lettuce into pieces, and toss with the dressing and the tomatoes.  Place into bowls or plates and add a piece of the toast with the Portobello Spread on each bowl or plate.  Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Portobello Spread

In this recipe, the small about of ground dulse combines with the cumin and portobello to give us a meaty flavour and texture with a hint of the taste of the sea.  It’s not quite anchovies but it’s close and, in the opinions in this household, much tastier.  Also, we hated the amount of fat in the original recipes so we cut them in half.

2 Portobello mushrooms, trimmed and chopped into small pieces
1/2 tsp ground dulse or nori, finely ground
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed in a mortar and pestle
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 tbls unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Line a small baking pan with aluminum foil.  Clean and trim then chop the portobello mushrooms.  Spread these over the aluminum foil, drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with a little black pepper.  Place in the oven and roast for 7 – 10 minutes, until dark and fragrant.  Set aside to cool.  When cool, add all the remaining ingredients to a blender and pulse gently until a paste has just formed.

Himmat’s Caesar Salad Dressing

1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbls thick yogourt (recipe here)
3 tbls fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

Combine the lemon zest, dijon mustard and yogourt in a bowl. Whisk well. Add the lemon juice, garlic and vinegars and whisk well. Slowly add the olive oil, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth. Add the pepper and use to dress your Caesar salad.

We hope you enjoy our takes on Caesar salad elements.

Until next time,

Peace & love,


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