This vegan quinoa chickpea caesar salad is a healthy spin on a classic recipe! It’s made with a protein-rich combination of crispy chickpeas and tender quinoa. Plus, it’s smothered in an irresistable, dairy free cashew Caesar dressing.
Believe it or not, I was never a big Caesar salad fan until I went vegan. The idea of dressing made with both fish and raw eggs—neither of which I was into—didn’t quite appeal. And I found a lot of Caesar salad to be overly creamy, making it tough to actually enjoy the crispy greens.
I’ve tried many vegan Caesar salads. These include raw food versions, Caesar salad with the addition of beans, and a Caesar with roasted broccoli.
This quinoa chickpea Caesar salad is one of my favorites. I love it because it’s hearty and filling. It’s not traditional, of course, but the addition of grains and legumes transform Caesar into a meal sized salad. Croutons are replaced by crunchy roasted chickpeas, while quinoa contributes protein and fiber.
The quinoa chickpea Caesar salad dressing is perfect. It’s a creamy, cashew-based concoction that tastes authentic without either raw egg or anchovies!
Classic Caesar salad typically features romaine hearts, croutons, parmesan cheese, and a characteristic dressing of anchovies, egg yolk, lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan, and garlic.
This quinoa chickpea Caesar retains some of those original components. The romaine is present, as is my cashew parmesan cheese. But there are lots of differences, too. Croutons are replaced by chickpeas, which add protein and nutrient density to the salad.
Quinoa also increases the protein in the chickpea Caesar salad, making the dish a Power Plate. I also find that the complex carbs in quinoa help to keep me full, and the fiber in the grain is a plus for digestive health.
I use roasted chickpeas in a lot of my recipes. It’s a way of including chickpeas that also adds texture (crispiness) and extra flavor (usually in the form of a spice mix).
Roasting chickpeas is simple. Simply toss the chickpeas with oil and spices, then roast them at 400F for about 25-30 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. They’re ready when they start to become crisp and lightly browned.
The chickpeas can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. I use them in this chickpea Caesar salad and in wraps, salads, bowls, on top of soup, and even in trail mix for snacking.
Of course the basis of my dressing for this quinoa chickpea Caesar salad is—you guessed it—cashews!
Cashews are one of my favorite and most heavily used ingredients. They’re the “secret weapon” in many of my dressings. They create my all-purpose cashew cream, which is what I use to add richness to soup and pasta. I use them to make both spreadable and crumbly vegan cheese. And they’re my base ingredient in vegan whipped cream and plant milk.
Here, cashews are blended to silky consistency along with garlic, black pepper, seaweed flakes, miso, nutritional yeast, and lemon. The nutritional yeast adds cheesy flavor, while the seaweed flakes help to replace anchovies.
You’ll have leftover Caesar dressing after you toss the quinoa chickpea Caesar salad together. You can save the dressing for salads and meals in the near future, or you can freeze it for up to six weeks.
Yes, you can! If you’re allergic to cashews but not other tree nuts, try pine nuts instead.
If you have an allergy to nuts, but not seeds, you can use soaked, shelled, raw sunflower seeds.
And if you’re allergic to all nuts and seeds, try using 1 cup silken tofu in place of the cashews and water.
This salad lends itself very easily to vegan meal prep. Many of the components can be made and stored a few days in advance of serving.
The roasted chickpeas will keep for up to one week in an airtight storage container in the fridge. The quinoa can be cooked up to three days in advance of tossing the salad together. And the vegan Caesar dressing will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to five days, total.
Once you combine all of the salad ingredients together, the salad leftovers will last for up to two days in an airtight container in the fridge. The romaine lettuce will become less crispy over time, but the salad will still taste terrific.
Enjoy this filling and comforting salad! I hope you’ll enjoy sharing it, too—it’s always a hit when I share it with friends.
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Made this salad for a family gathering today, and it was a hit among non-veg/plant-based food eaters 🙂 I seasoned the quinoa with a bit of lemon juice and sea salt, and also added some toasted pepitas for crunch, and thin carrot strips for some pop of color. Thanks for the recipe, Gena!
Those all sound like such awesome additions, Annaliese! I’m glad you (and yours) enjoyed it 🙂
I was the same pre-vegan, never a caesar fan. But now I love the plant based versions! This one included sounds amazing. Miso and seaweed together is pretty magical. The idea that dressings and sauces can now be healthy and somehow more delicious as a vegan constantly blows my mind. Major high fives on this yummy recipe Gena! <3
Yum this looks delicious Gena:)
ps: got one of those annoying substitution questions for you, Gena: how do you think the dressing would work with hemp seeds instead of cashews? They are a better nutritional and digestive fit for me. Just wondering. . .xo
I think they’ll work well, Maria! Let me know how it goes. And if it’s a big success I’ll probably modify the recipe to add them as an option 🙂
Thanks Gena—I will! 🙂
Gena–the hemp seeds worked great in the dressing! It was a little on the salty side for me, so I might use only 1/4 tsp salt with the hemp seeds next time. I’m thinking that the cashews are sweeter than hemp seeds so the 1/2 tsp might be fine in that version. Or maybe I’m just sensitive to salty! In any event it is a lovely dressing with the hemp option–and no need to soak the seeds first! Thanks again–loved the whole salad too, and so did my guest– xo
Wooohoo! So happy you enjoyed it, Maria! And of course salt is always variable, which means you can easily decrease it slightly for the next trial. Really happy you shared it with a friend, too. Thanks for letting me know. <3
This looks great, Gena! And I agree it would be a good one for family and friends. I just might have to test that premise out real soon. 🙂 xo