Vegan Chicken Caesar Salad
Enjoy a classic Caesar salad without any of the meat, fish, dairy or egg! Find out how below.
What’s in a “classic” Caesar Salad?
I have always loved eating a Chicken Caesar Salad. It’s the perfect mix of crisp salad leaves, crunchy croutons and garlicky dressing and when I became vegetarian it was enjoyable even without the chicken or anchovies. I didn’t realise until very recently that the chicken and anchovies that many of us associate with a Caesar Salad aren’t all that “authentic” and didn’t feature in early versions of the dish.
In its simplest form a classic Caesar Salad is made by tossing cos lettuce leaves in a simple dressing made from garlic-infused olive oil, egg, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. It is then topped with crispy croutons and a dusting of parmesan cheese. It’s a wonderful vegetarian salad but still needs a few tweaks if it’s going to be suitable for a dairy-free or egg-free diet.
Vegan Chicken Caesar Salad Swaps
To make this simple salad vegan we have to tackle the egg in the dressing as well as the parmesan on top. The parmesan is the simple bit so lets save that to the end. We’ll make the vegan Caesar salad dressing first!
Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing
Caesar salad dressing is usually an emulsification of oil, egg and lemon which is then flavoured to give it its signature flavour. In other words, it’s just a thin, flavoured mayonnaise! But best of all it is something we can easily make vegan!
The method for making vegan mayonnaise is exactly the same as for regular mayo. The only difference is that you use soya milk instead of egg. The swap works because both are a source of lecithin which is what helps the mixture stabilise.
Once you’ve got your base ingredients at room temperature (soya milk, lemon juice and olive oil) you begin to blend them together. This takes some time as you do need to add the oil slowly. As soon as this has come together to form a thick creamy mayo you can add the rest of the ingredients to transform it into a garlicky Caesar dressing.
Of course you don’t have to make your own vegan mayonnaise. Store bought works great too. And, although they don’t appear in the original recipe, mustard and anchovies often find their way into modern Caesar salad recipes. I add a little wholegrain mustard to mine but swap the anchovies for capers. I love their salty tang!
Vegan chicken substitutes
For this recipe you can use any vegan chicken substitute available in your local store. My favourite is from ‘This’. The This Isn’t Chicken Plant-Based Sea-Salt & Black Pepper Pieces are perfect for this salad. I like to grill them first so they are soft in the middle but with crispy griddle marks. I also love the contrast of hot and cold in the salad.
I know that fake meat isn’t for everyone so if you want to leave out this part of the recipe that’s absolutely fine. I can recommend roasted chickpeas in its place.
Of course a Caesar Salad wouldn’t be complete without a dusting of parmesan. There are lots of plant based cheese alternatives available in supermarkets and online. KindaCo make a fantastic parmesan substitute but it’s also incredibly simple to make your own.
Vegan Chicken Caesar Salad
For the vegan Caesar dressig
- 4 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
- 0.5 lemon juice only
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tbsp capers chopped
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
For the croutons
- 2 slices stale bread cut into cubes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to season
For the chicken
- 200 grams plant based chicken substitute cut into pieces
- 1 tbsp olive oil
For the salad
- 100 grams lettuce e.g. cos lettuce, romaine lettuce, iceberg lettuce or baby spinach
- 1 tbsp capers
- 2 tbsp vegan parmesan
- Pre-heat your oven to 190 C / gas mark 5 / 375F.
To make the Caesar salad dressing
- Add the lemon juice to the vegan mayonnaise slowly and whisk until it is smooth and the perfect drizzling consistency.
- Stir through the minced garlic, finely chopped capers and wholegrain mustard. Taste and adjust the flavours to your preference.
- Place the dressing to one side until ready to serve.
To make the croutons
- Toss the stale bread cubes in the olive oil to ensure they are all covered.
- Season them with salt and pepper then spread over a large baking sheet (you don't want them to be touching each other).
- Place them in the oven for 15 minutes, shaking halfway through. In the meantime, prepare the plant-based chicken.
To cook the plant-based chicken
- Add the olive oil to a griddle pan and place over a medium heat.
- Once the pan and oil are hot add the plant-based chicken pieces.
- Grill them for 5-8 minutes either side or until they are crisp on the outside and piping hot. (Check the packet for precise cooking times).
- Once cooked add them to the oven along with the croutons and turn the oven down low while you assemble the salad.
To assemble the salad.
- If serving as one salad, add the lettuce leaves to a salad bowl and toss with the dressing, additional capers, croutons and plant-based chicken pieces. Sprinkle over the vegan parmesan immediately before serving.
- If serving as two separate portions, divide the lettuce between two plates. Scatter over the additional capers, croutons and plant-based chicken before drizzling over the vegan Caesar dressing. Finish with a sprinkling of vegan parmesan immediately before serving.