I once dated a someone who, without fail and regardless of the restaurant we went to, would order Caesar Salad as an appetizer, if at all possible.
Back then, I didn’t get the appeal of Caesar Salad. At all. Firstly, I was borderline mayo-phobic and secondly, I associated lettuce with starvation and sadness. So you could bet your ass that I wasn’t gonna be ordering what I thought of then as “diet food”, slathered in glooby, fatty dressing. Thankfully, my attitudes to food have changed since those days of food fear.
And after making the crispy, crunchiest grain free croutons recently to top my Tomato-Less Tomato Soup, I knew just what to do with them next. It was time to tackle the eggless Caesar salad!!
At it’s heart, the Caesar is the simplest of salads. Crunchy-fresh romaine, creamy anchovy-kissed dressing, crisped croutons and a whisper of parmesan. I had most of these things covered. Lettuce? Check. Cassava bread croutons? Yup. My nut free take on Parmesan sprinkles? Nailed.
What I needed next was a dressing that could bring it all together. But here’s the harder part: not only did I want the Caesar dressing to be creamy, rich and dairy free, I also wanted to keep the egg out of the mix to make this an AIP friendly recipe, too. Oh, and I also wanted to avoid coconut products. No biggie, right?!
I know, I know. I feel like I’ve had a burst of energy this almost-Spring and apparently, that’s made me tackle my list of most-difficult-to-make-allergy-friendly recipes all at once. But the good news is that this Eggless Caesar Salad is a success! The trick to a coconut and dairy free Caesar dressing is to let the garlic do all the talking… and the emulsifying.
Usually, it’s the egg in Caesar dressing that’s forcing all the water and oil to hang out together so well, when they really don’t wanna be at the same food party. Here, by the magic that is an immersion blender and the secret emulsifying properties of garlic, the egg is no longer needed to bring together a thick and creamy dressing.
A word of warning, however: you’ll want to make this Eggless Caesar Salad dressing just before you use it. Over time, the emulsification will break down, meaning that after a night in the fridge, the dressing will thin and eventually separate. So to keep your dressing light-yet-rich, thick-yet-fluffy and totally delicious, make sure to whip it up right before serving.
I need to get my butt to the store because I ran out of lemons, but my theory is that it would all hold together much longer without the anchovies. So one answer to a longer lasting dressing might be to make it without the anchovies, keep it in the fridge ’til you want it and then add them. Once I’ve tested that out, I’ll be back here to update y’all.
Because this Eggless Caesar Salad dressing can be a little tricksy, here are my troubleshooting tips!
- Use very fresh garlic – older garlic is too dry and won’t emulsify, leaving you with a watery, unusable result, even if you measure things perfectly.
- Chilling the anchovies, lemon juice and oil in the fridge ahead of time gives more consistent results than using ingredients with different temperatures. I can’t explain why, but I know this to be true!
- Make sure that the immersion blender is at the bottom of the container and that you blend from the bottom of the container first. This helps incorporate the oil a little at a time, which makes for the best, thickest emulsion.
- Add the oil directly to the blending container with the head of the immersion blender already in place.
- Measure the oil directly into the blending container, using an electronic scale. It’s more accurate and helps keep the proportions right in a way that measuring out tablespoons does not.
Classic Eggless Caesar Salad
This Classic Eggless Caesar Salad has all of the flavor, but none of the egg or dairy, making it perfect for the AIP. As a bonus, it’s coconut free, too!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 5 mins
- Total Time: 15 mins
- Yield: 4-6 1x
For the croutons:
- 1 cup / 60 g cassava bread (casabe), broken into bite size pieces
- 3 tbsp / 45 ml avocado oil
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
For the Eggless Caesar Salad Dressing:
- 4 medium cloves of garlic
- 1 – 3 flat anchovy fillets, to taste, see notes
- 2 tbsp / 30 ml lemon juice, or preservative free bottled lemon juice
- 1/2 cup / 120 ml neutral avocado oil or very mild olive oil, see notes
- Pinch fine sea salt, to taste
To assemble the Eggless Caesar Salad:
- 3 romaine hearts
- Nut Free Vegan Parmesan Sprinkles, to taste
- CRISP: Add the broken up cassava bread, avocado oil, garlic powder and salt to a bowl. Use your hands to work all the ingredients together until the croutons are evenly coated in oil and seasonings. Heat a small skillet over low-medium heat – any hotter and the croutons will burn rather than toast. Add the coated crouton mixture to the hot skillet and toast for 2 – 3 minutes, until lightly golden. You’ll want to take them out when they look a little underdone as they’ll continue to cook and darken further as they cool. Set aside for later.
- PREP: Lightly crush the garlic cloves with the back of a kitchen knife, then peel the cloves. Chop off and discard the tough ends of the garlic cloves. Add the peeled garlic cloves, anchovy fillets and lemon juice to a narrow jar or the blending container that came with your immersion blender. Blitz with the immersion blender a few times, enough to roughly chop the garlic and anchovies a little.
- EMULSIFY: Add 1/4 cup / 60 ml of the oil to the jar or container. Keeping the head of the immersion blender touching the bottom, blend everything together until you have a soft, thick & creamy dressing base. If your ingredients don’t emulsify at this stage, you will need to start over – check the notes for troubleshooting tips!
- BLEND: Leaving the immersion blender in place on the bottom of the container, add a further 2 tablespoons / 30 ml of the oil (it will sit on the top of the already emulsified mixture) and blend again. Repeat with the final remaining 2 tablespoons / 30 ml of oil, blending from the bottom, tilting the head of the immersion blender in a gentle circle to incorporate all of the oil from the top. When the mixture is almost completely combined, you can lift the head of the immersion blender up to ensure all of the ingredients combine totally smoothly. Add a pinch of salt, to taste. Set the dressing aside.
- ASSEMBLE: Cut the romaine hearts in half down the middle length ways. Set the halves on a large platter, or divide between plates, as you like. Drizzle with the dressing (you may not want to use it all) and sprinkle with the croutons and nut free Parmesan, to taste.
Whatever oil you use, you don’t want it to overpower the dressing. This is definitely not the time for cold pressed avocado oil! Use a very mild, neutrally flavored avocado oil, like this one, or a very mild olive oil, like this one.
A quick anchovy guide: add 1 anchovy for a mild, subtle flavor, 2 for a dressing with a bit more bite and 3 if you really like anchovies!
The Caesar Dressing is best used immediately. Over time, the emulsion will break down and then separate, so it’s best to make just before you’re planning to use it.
* Use very fresh garlic – older garlic is too dry and won’t emulsify, leaving you with a watery, unusable result.
* Chilling the anchovies, lemon juice and oil in the fridge ahead of time gives more consistent results than using ingredients with different temperatures.
* Make sure that the immersion blender is at the bottom of the container and that you blend from the bottom of the container first. This helps incorporate the oil a little at a time, which makes for the best, thickest emulsion.
* Add the oil directly to the blending container with the head of the immersion blender already in place.
* Measure the oil directly into the blending container, using an electronic scale. It’s more accurate and helps keep the proportions right.