Kale Caesar Salad (with vegan caesar dressing!)

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I know, I knooow! KALE! Another kale recipe. Not from me, specifically, but from anyone. There are at least 2 billion kale chip recipes out there right this very second, at least! But kale works great with this thick and creamy dressing. It tastes like “the real thing.” Vegans must get so tired of people saying things like that. I can’t help the comparison, though.When I decided to try this recipe out, I expected it to be another one of my vegan flops. I was already breaking one of my unofficial rules of the month: Don’t make anything that is the vegan version of an originally non-vegan food. I’d had some serious failures (vegan fettuccine alfredo, unh-uh. Don’t do it!). But this worked. Soaking the curly kale in warm water for awhile gave it an easy to chew texture. The dressing was easy to make in my mini prep. Croutons you can buy or make.  I don’t measure out my ingredients for croutons, so I can’t vouch for the recipe, but it’s part of the whole salad’s recipe, and these folks tend to be reliable. Just remember that you can use more or less of whatever you want. Croutons are a pretty easy and forgiving thing to make.

And now a confession: During Veganuary, I made and ate this salad a few times using conventional, not vegan, Worcestershire sauce (I was surprised too – anchovies. I had no idea.). I already had a nearly full bottle of the non-vegan stuff in the cabinet. I didn’t want to buy a whole new bottle.  This was one sign that I was not on the road to anything beyond visitor status at veganing. If you have tried vegan Worcestershire, let me know how it is. I hope it’s good.

Vegan Kale Caesar Salad

From the chefs at America’s Test Kitchen in Vegan For Everybody with just slight changes in some of the How To.
(I have halved the amount of kale in this recipe when just making it for 1-2, but then kept the extra dressing for a second round the day after. I don’t know if the dressing keeps longer than 24 hours.)

Ingredients

Salad
1 lb. curly kale, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (I didn’t measure. Rather, I went for What will comfortably fit on my fork and in my mouth?)

Croutons (if you’re making your own)
5 oz. baguette, cut into ~3/4 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt

Dressing
6 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (I love this one.)
1.5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1.5 tablespoons lemon juice
1.5 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (The first time I made this, I misread the ingredient as white vinegar, which I used. It worked out fine.)
2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (see confession above)
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard (I used a non-Dijon mustard with great results.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (Just use the best stuff you’ve got. It’s dressing. You’re going to taste it.)

How to

Croutons

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°. Toss baguette pieces with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread on rimmed baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely.

You can make this ahead of time. The original recipe says they can be stored at room temperature for up to 24 hours, but I have saved croutons for a whole lot longer, bought or made.

Dressing

Process all ingredients in a mini prep or blender until smooth. It’s not enough stuff to use your full size food processor.

Salad

Put all the chopped kale in a large bowl or a big pot. Cover with warm water (~110°F) and let sit for 10 minutes. I actually like my kale a little softer than this yields. If you do too, you either empty out the water after 10 minutes and put in fresh warm water, or, if you’re daring, put in mostly warm water and a cup or two of hot water, just shy of a boil.

Dry completely. Try a salad spinner or just a couple of kitchen towels.

Toss dry kale and dressing. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes to chill. You can even keep this in the fridge up to 6 hours before throwing on those croutons and serving.

 

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