There may be fresh snow on the ground (we had another storm last night) but Spring is in the air. The 50 degree temperature is in sharp contrast to all the winter white that’s on the ground. But as the snow melts away and the weather gets warmer, we all know what that means – lighter clothing, no heavy coats and sweaters to hide behind, time to get serious about eating lighter.
In my pre-vegan days, whenever I was on a serious weight-loss plan, I lived on grilled chicken Caesar salads. Hold the anchovies (although they were in the dressing), pick off the croutons, dressing on the side so I could limit how much I had. It used to work. Whether I was eating inside a diner or outside at the sidewalk seating at my favorite Tribeca restaurants, I would order the grilled chicken Caesar salad. I wouldn’t even look at the menu so I couldn’t be tempted by other dishes. And if I did slip and ordered something else, I would usually regret it and miss my salad.
So when I became vegan, I wanted my Caesar salad back. When I first made them, I used Gardein Chick’n Scallopini to make the grilled “chicken” but when I became gluten-free, I switched to tofu. I make my own garlic croutons and a delicious, creamy vegan Caesar salad dressing that tastes exactly like the original but with added compassion.
Whether you choose to make this gluten-free or not, my Grilled “Chicken” Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons is a healthy and delicious way to welcome Spring.
Grilled “Chicken” Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
Vegan Caesar Dressing
2 Tbs. vegan mayo
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. gluten-free, vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dulce or kelp flakes
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt to taste
In a food processor or blender, combine the mayo, lemon juice, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, mustard and dulce flakes. Blend well. Add the oil and salt and blend until you have the desired taste and consistency. Add more oil if needed.
4 slices GF bread (or any bread of your choice), cut into cubes
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
A pinch of red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toss the bread cubes with the oil, garlic and red pepper flakes. Place on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Check often to make sure they don’t burn.
Grilled “Chicken” Tofu Strips
1 package extra-firm tofu, pressed and drained (or 1 package Gardein Chick’n Scallopini)
1 clove garlic, minced or 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
Cut the tofu into thin slices. (If you are using the Gardein, you can marinate and cook the whole pieces and then cut them into strips.) Mix the spices into the olive oil. Let the tofu sit in the olive oil mixture for at least 1 hour. Heat a grill pan or a skillet over medium high heat. Add the tofu to the skillet and cook until browned and crisp, about 4 minutes on each side. Cut the tofu slices into strips.
1 large or 2 small heads of romaine lettuce, cut into shreds
1 small red onion, sliced
1 -2 tomatoes, chopped
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
Combine the lettuce, onion and tomatoes in a large bowl. Add the Caesar dressing and mix well with tongs. Add the tofu strips and the croutons. Add ground black pepper to taste, at the tableside for that restaurant feel. Enjoy!
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.