One of our favorite restaurants, Adrift, just North of Whidbey Island, is full of character. From its eclectic decor, including a library (yes!), and attentive and personable wait staff, to its extensive menu and wine list. Adrift is a farm-to-table restaurant that includes seasonal options as well as standard fare.
Dining at their kitchen-side bar is pure entertainment. Watching chefs work their magic with flaming pans, broccoli rabe and kale flying through the air, garnishes tossed around, and finished plates whisked off to be enjoyed, it’s better than a Saturday night action movie!
While I am a fan of many of their dishes, I’ve fallen head over heels with their Kale Brutus salad. The magic is the dressing. Well, and of course, the kale… but the dressing!! It is so spicy, creamy, and garlicky.
Their secret; tons of garlic… and, anchovies and egg yolks. I became
determined obsessed with making a vegan version of this favorite dressing. And I knew, because of my dark chocolate coco nib ice cream, made with a base of neutral tasting cashew creme, and the fact that cashews are a culinary wonder, I could make them the base of this dressing.
When I finally got it, Rob had his first bite. Then, started chowing down; I mean, inhaling this salad, y’all. In between chews, he exclaimed, this tastes just like Adrift! My jaw dropped to the floor, because as many of you know, Rob likes regular (his word) food. Nothing fancy or gourmet for him. Spaghetti sauce? Give the man Ragu. A cheese plate? You guessed it: Cheddar is better.
He can be a tough customer when I’m making something new, vegan or vegetarian or not regular (even after all these years!). He usually detects my sneaky ways. Certainly he’d know I didn’t use anchovies or eggs… certainly.
In this dressing, capers stand in for the salty, briny flavor of the anchovies, and I added copious amounts of spicy garlic. Olive oil and lemon finish and balance the dressing, making the most creamy, dreamy, vegan Caesar dressing. I adore it and can now have this favorite salad anytime.
This dressing is so satisfying and easy to make using pantry staples. Serve this delectable, tender salad with homemade croutons, lemon wedges and vegan parmesan. Simple, easy and delicious!
Vegan Caesar Dressing with Massaged Kale and Parmesan
Creamy, garlicky, spicy and full of lemony, briny flavor, this vegan Cesar dressing is delicious on any variety of greens, but especially romaine or kale, or as a dip. vegan + gluten free
For the Dressing (Yields 1 1/2 C or 352g) *See note:
- 3/4 C Raw Cashews soaked in water overnight, rinsed and drained, 106g
- 3/4 C Water 170g
- 2 Tbs Fresh Lemon Juice
- 2 Cloves Large of Garlic to taste **see note 18g, Increase to 3 cloves (27g)
- 2 Tbs Capers 24g
- 1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
- 1/4 tsp + 1/8 Sea Salt
- 1/4 C Extra Virgin Olive Oil 46g
For the Parmesan (Yields about 3/4 C or 82g) See note***:
- 1/2 C Raw Cashews 66g
- 2 Tbs Nutritional Yeast 8g
- 1/2 tsp Sea Salt
- 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
For the Salad (Yields 2 Salads):
- 5 oz Russian Red or Baby Kale washed and torn into bite size pieces, 142g
- Homemade Croutons
- Lemon Wedges
For the Dressing:
In a VitaMix, add the soaked and drained cashews, water, lemon juice, garlic, capers, pepper and salt. Start to puree on low, then increase speed to high for 30 seconds. Scrape down the pitcher. Repeat until all ingredients are pureed and smooth, about 45 seconds.
With the lid plug removed, turn the VitaMix on to low speed. Slowly pour in the olive oil until all ingredients are smooth. Taste for salt and pepper seasoning adjustment.
Store in the refrigerator for at least a few hours before serving so it can chill, develop and thicken. If the dressing is too thick, add about 1 tsp of water at a time, by whisking in until desired consistency is reached.
This dressing freezes beautifully. When ready to use, thaw in the refrigerator and whisk or puree until smooth again (add water as needed as the dressing tends to thicken).
For the Parmesan:
To a bowl of a food processor, add the cashews, nutritional yeast, salt and garlic powder. Pulse ingredients until the desired consistency is reached. It should look like a fine meal.
In a large bowl, add kale and about two Tbs of Caesar dressing. Set a timer and massage for two minutes, Don't be concerned about tearing the leaves, this is a sturdy kale. Taste a leaf or two, to see if more dressing is needed; add to taste.
Place in serving bowls, sprinkle with parmesan and top with croutons.
Serve with a few wedges of lemon.
*The dressing will not all be used for two salads. Store in the refrigerator for up to three days or freeze the leftovers. Give it a whirl in the blender or a good shake before using again.
**The garlic. I've made this many times and have included up to four cloves of garlic. The level of spiciness/garlic flavor will depend largely on the type of garlic used. I recommend starting with two cloves and adjusting the recipe to taste.
***Store parmesan in a lidded container and store for up to two weeks. Vegan Parmesan slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker.
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