Quinoa Chickpea Caesar Salad
March 29, 2016

Quinoa Chickpea Caesar Salad | The Full Helping

I never really liked Caesar salad until I went vegan. The idea of a dressing made with both fish and raw eggs didn’t sit right with me, and I found most Caesar salads to be overly dressed, making it impossible to taste the bright, crunchy romaine.

As a vegan, I’ve tried many different Caesars: raw food versions, legume-based versions, avocado versions. This quinoa chickpea Caesar salad may be my favorite to date, if only because it’s the heartiest and most filling. It’s also the least traditional Caesar I’ve come up with. Croutons are replaced by crispy roasted chickpeas, and quinoa takes the starring role, making this as much a grain salad as it is green salad. The dressing is perfect: a creamy, simple blend of cashews, water, and seasoning. Regardless of how often I make this salad in the future (and I suspect it’ll become a regular, especially when I have friends over), the dressing is here to stay.

Quinoa Chickpea Caesar Salad | The Full Helping

So too are the chickpeas, which you don’t have to serve in this salad. They’re totally snack-worthy on their own, and while the Worcestershire sauce is a nice nod to classic Caesar salad flavors, it also is a perfect marinade for the beans before they go into the oven.

Quinoa Chickpea Caesar Salad | The Full Helping

Usually I take a “kitchen sink” approach to salad making, throwing in lots of different types of veggies and fixings. I was more restrained when I put this salad together, allowing the romaine, quinoa, and chickpeas to shine. But if you’d like to add cherry tomatoes, shaved fennel, chopped green beans, or bell peppers to this salad, I think they’d all taste great. And while I do love the crunch and freshness of chopped romaine, baby greens or finely chopped kale would also work really well as a base. I’d love to try the salad with shaved brussels sprouts, too!

Quinoa Chickpea Caesar Salad | The Full Helping

Quinoa Chickpea Caesar Salad

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the roasted chickpeas:

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce I used Lord Sandy's, but many brands, including Annie's are vegan; if you're allergic to wheat, gluten, or soy, or you don't have Worcestershire sauce at home, you can substitute an extra tablespoon of tamari
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon agave or maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

For the Caesar dressing:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked for at least 2 hours, drained, and rinsed (you can substitute soaked sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, or macadamia nuts)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dulse nori, or kelp flakes or granules
  • 1 tablespoon mellow white miso
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice

For the salad:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa any color is fine
  • 4 heaping cups washed and chopped romaine lettuce

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 375F. Toss the chickpeas in the oil, Worcestershire sauce, tamari, smoked paprika, apple cider vinegar, agave or maple syrup, onion powder, and garlic powder. Spread them on a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes, or until lightly browning, stirring halfway through. Set the chickpeas aside.
  • While the chickpeas roast, blend all dressing ingredients together in a food processor or blender till smooth.
  • To prepare the salad, dress the greens to your liking (you'll have dressing leftover) and divide them onto four plates, topping each bed of greens with a quarter of the quinoa and toasted chickpeas. Spoon extra dressing on top. Alternately, you can mix the greens, quinoa, and chickpeas together in a large mixing bowl and dress to taste, tossing well before dividing onto serving plates. Leftover salad will keep overnight in an airtight container in the fridge.

I love the way the salty, smoky chickpeas and hearty quinoa contrast with crispy greens and a lemony dressing. The dressing offers umami and creaminess without weighing the greens down. This is a perfect salad to make for family and friends: it’s evocative of traditional Caesar flavors while also presenting the recipe in a new way. And it’s a great way to showcase how neatly beans and grains can fit into any salad template.

Quinoa Chickpea Caesar Salad | The Full Helping

I really hope you enjoy the salad. And on Thursday, I’ll be back with a quick and easy bowl meal that’s equally perfect for breakfast and lunch. You can expect to see a lot of “express” options between now and the end of this busy semester, and this will be a fun place to start! Hope to see you soon,

xo

This post may contain affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something I may earn a commission. Visit my privacy policy to learn more.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    10 Comments
  1. 5 stars
    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!

  2. 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

  3. 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 🙂

        • 5 stars
          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

  4. 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