The problem of Caesar salads from a vegetarian perspective is the presence of anchovies in the dressing. While it's not uncommon for restaurants to keep the anchovies out since a lot of non-vegetarians totally hate the idea of them, it's still something you have to ask about if you are scrupulous about your vegetarian status. Now, normally you can't actually taste the anchovies in the dressing as they are just there to provide some umami. So how do we replicate that umami without putting tiny little fish in our dressing? Why with the power of miso of course! This is a really great kale salad recipe from Kenji where I just substituted a tablespoon or so of white miso (because it is milder and wouldn't discolor the dressing) and vegan Worcestershire sauce (it normally has anchovies too).
There is a softening step where you "massage" oil into the raw kale and wait 30 minutes, but otherwise it comes together really quickly. What I really love about this salad is that as long as you keep the bread crumbs separate, the kale will do fine fully dressed and sitting in the fridge... so you can munch on it for days. Just sprinkle the bread crumbs on top and you are ready to go.
Vegetarian Caesar Dressing
- 2/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1 1/2 ounces Vegetarian Parmesan*, finely grated (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 teaspoons vegan Worcestershire sauce (Martha has a recipe)
- 2 tablespoons juice from 1 lemon
Combine all the ingredients in the food processor bowl and process until smooth.
*NOTE: Many Italian cheeses, and specifically Parmigiano-Reggiano (which was originally called for in this recipe), are required by law to be made with animal rennet (enzymes from a calf's stomach) and thus not truly vegetarian. If you are not strict about cheese then feel free to use Parmigiano-Reggiano.