Raw Caesar Salad

by Gena on December 14, 2010

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Why, hello there.

My lord, it feels good to be back. I think I often underestimate how much I love writing this blog. I love food, and I love to share food with others, but it goes so far beyond that. Blogging allows me to reflect on my actions and thoughts, to shape my experiences into a narrative that I can understand, and to seek out a sense of communion with you, my readers. In short, blogging appears to have turned me into a writer—or at least, a person who loves to write. After six years of seeing myself only as an editor, who shapes the words of other people, it’s a little new and a little surprising to suddenly feel like a writer, too. Who knew?Sorry to have been MIA for a few days. Sorry to my fellow bloggers, for being so remiss in my comments lately. I can’t wait to write and comment more, because I miss your blogs, too. For the next week or two, I’ll be dealing with some pretty seismic life change—which is scary and big and great, and I’ll write about soon—but for now, I simply ask that you forgive me if I seem a little distracted. My head is being tugged in a lot of directions, but my heart is always close to this blog.

As I attempt to juggle the ups and downs of an emotional week, I’m seeking refuge in one thing I know will always offer me a sense of stability: the joy of creating and writing about food. How funny it seems to me that, once upon a time, food was a source of tension and strife in my life: nowadays, being in the kitchen is my favorite way to regain my bearings. And what food could be nearer or dearer to me than—you guessed it—salad? It’s my favorite meal of all, and last week, I created a new salad and dressing that are already destined to be eaten and enjoyed again and again. It’s raw, vegan caesar salad, and it’s delicious.

There was a time not so long ago when I assumed that I Caesar salad and I would never meet again. I was a new vegan, and I didn’t know all of the inns and outs, but I did know that eggs and parmesan were not on the menu. Besides that, my memories of Caesar salad were mostly limited to my own sadness that anyone would smother crisp, fresh romaine in heaps of dressing that was often no better than mayo. Little did I know then that there are a million recipes for vegan Caesar out there—raw and cooked—and tons of substitutes for the ingredients that give Caesar salad its taste. With a little nooch, a little seaweed, and some nuts, raw, vegan Caesar is as easy as pie, and I happen to think it’s even tastier. Try this dressing, and tell me if you don’t agree.

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Raw, Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing (makes about 1 1/4 cups)

1/2 c cashews
1/4 c hemp (if you can’t afford or don’t have hemp seeds, all cashews is fine, too)
1/4 c nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp salt
2 lemons juice
black pepper
3 pitted dates
1 tsp kelp granules (optional, but good for recreating the anchovy taste)
3/4 c water
2 large stalks celery

Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender, or, if you haven’t got one, soak the nuts first and put it all in a regular blender. Serve over romaine lettuce and any other veggies you like. I, for one, kicked up traditional Caesar (which is basically romaine, and nothing more) with some cherry tomatoes, fennel, avocado, and celery. It rocked my world:

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Sprinkling a little more nutritional yeast on top—just to mimic the parmesan in regular Caesar—made it all the tastier:

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It’s a truly delicious salad, and a hearty one, too. The dressing itself could also work as a dip, sauce, or sandwich spread—the possibilities are endless! In fact, tomorrow’s post will show you another way to make the dressing sing. I’ve seen raw Caesar recipes on the web for ages now, and can’t imagine why I didn’t try my own sooner. I love this salad, and hope you will, too.

On that note, friends, I bid you a very tired au revoir. I’ll be back here tomorrow with more salad and more appreciation for the joys of writing about food.


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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Averie (LoveVeggiesandYoga) December 14, 2010 at 12:56 am

“For the next week or two, I’ll be dealing with some pretty seismic life change—which is scary and big and great”

Ok well I wish you nothing but the best outcome and during the process, lots of peace and calmness!

Writing my blog, for me too, helps me order my days, my life, make sense of things..and so even tho I gave myself permission to not blog while I am on vacay, I actually have been enjoying my blog more here, b/c I dont feel stressed by it…just renewed in that writing it gives me structure and connection and all that jazz that you alluded to, too.

Cesar dressing…nice work! And i like that you noted you can use all cashews if you dont have hemp seeds. I think it’s important to give modifications like that b/c not all ppl have easy or affordable access to all types of ingredients. Random sidebar, but I like that little notation of yours.

Take care of YOU, miss Gena!



hippierunner December 14, 2010 at 1:01 am

Your writing is so eloquent! I love how you do so much with words. Truly inspiring!


VeggieGirl December 14, 2010 at 1:23 am

**major hugs, dear Gena**


Laura December 14, 2010 at 1:49 am

What suspense… I do hope it is great, you deserve great. Enjoy your salad, take a couple downward dogs, and update us soon!
No major life changes around here, but I have recently joined a hot yoga studio and loving it! Coconut water is a necessity after each class for electrolytes, and I’ve found a brand of coconut water 10x better than the rest: taste nirvana. It’s amazing! I’m almost sketched out by how good it is, because I don’t know how the same single ingredient (coconut water) can taste so different. But it does!


Laura C December 14, 2010 at 1:50 am

What suspense… I do hope it is great, you deserve great. Enjoy your salad, take a couple downward dogs, and update us soon!
No major life changes around here, but I have recently joined a hot yoga studio and loving it! Coconut water is a necessity after each class for electrolytes, and I’ve found a brand of coconut water 5x better than the rest: taste nirvana. It’s amazing! I’m almost sketched out by how good it is, because I don’t know how the same single ingredient (coconut water) can taste so different. But it does!


Tolisa December 14, 2010 at 9:22 am

I’m a big fan of coconut water and have also found disparity among the brands. Do you mind sharing which brand you landed on that reigns supreme?


laura December 14, 2010 at 6:19 pm

Yes, please share! The masses want to know!


Laura December 14, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Haha… I did share! It is literally called “taste nirvana”! :) I found it at whole foods. I’m curious what you think of it! http://www.tastenirvana.com/real


Laura C December 14, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Haha… I did share! It is literally called “taste nirvana.” :) I found it at whole foods. I’m curious what you think of it! http://www.tastenirvana.com/real


Molly December 14, 2010 at 1:53 am

Oh Gena, THANK YOU!!!
I have missed Caesar dearly, and hadn’t bothered looking for a vegan version (much less a raw one) – I just assumed it was gone forever, much like beef jerky and cheeseburgers (not a fan of the analogs). But this, THIS I can make friends with. Thank you sooo much. :)

One question, though, the measurement for the Kelp Granules is missing – is that 1 tsp? or 1/2?

Gratias ago vos, Gena.


Gena December 14, 2010 at 8:28 am

1 tsp! Fixing now :)


Mama Pea December 14, 2010 at 1:56 am

I feel the same way about blogging as you do. And you 100% are a writer, and a damn good one at that!

I’m-a gonna try this salad dressing too. I’m-a fighting the urge to say “nom nom” here. I don’t want to have to punch myself in the face.


bitt December 14, 2010 at 2:00 am

This is one of those cases where I never liked a regular caesar so i don’t miss it but I think I would like the raw version. I wonder if another seaweed would work for the ocean flavor. BTW, i don’t think seaweed tastes much like fish but that is GOOD thing IMO.

I am wishing you well on your major upheaval. And appreciate your taking the time to blog through it all. HUGS for ya.


Gena December 14, 2010 at 8:28 am

I think fish is NAST, and I agree it’s not fish-like. But it does taste vaguely aquatic to me :)


Christin@purplebirdblog December 14, 2010 at 2:31 am

I wish you a smooth transition through whatever it is you’re going through. And another brilliant creation, as always! :)


Lola December 14, 2010 at 3:22 am

If you write a book one day (and I hope you will because I love your writing!), would you give me an autographed copy?? hehe
Do you know they say Caesar salad was first made in Mexico? I don’t know if it’s true though.


Gena December 14, 2010 at 8:27 am

Ha! I don’t know that my prose is book worthy, but if I ever write one I sure will.


Karen December 14, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Modest as you are, Gena, your prose is most definitely book worthy…so eager to read your first book!

All the best with your life transition challenges.


Mimi (Gingersnaps) December 14, 2010 at 4:42 am

Best of wishes to all your crazy life changes! I hope you stay in NYC though–I might be interning there this summer, and would love a chance to meet up! Even if it’s not in your cards, good luck!

Caesar dressing is like ranch’s classier older sister. Love that stuff! This looks like a great alternative. I don’t have any kelp though–would dulse flakes be any kind of substitute?

Oh, and are the whispy white things on your salad the fennel? I’ve never seen it prepared but uncooked before.


Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg December 14, 2010 at 8:27 am

Seismic life changes?! Best of luck!!!

This salad looks great– I love Caesar salads!


Jen O December 14, 2010 at 8:27 am

Best wishes in whatever you are going through!

I am definitely going to make this tonight! I’ve been wanting to make a new dressing and I have all the ingredients for this. I don’t have kelp but I do have dulse or nori. I assume dulse might work the same, no?


Gena December 14, 2010 at 8:31 am

Sure, dulse is great.


Faith @ lovelyascharged December 14, 2010 at 9:32 am

Wow, that looks awesome! I used to love Caesar but so many dressings are made non-vegetarian, so this looks incredible – raw to boot? Heck yes, Gena!


Casey December 14, 2010 at 9:40 am

Hope things flow well for you Gena.
I also find writing my blog has created even more excitement, passion and exploration of food for me, and like you, a therapeutic sharing experience.
Yum recipe! I don’t love how cashews make me feel but I will try this with pine nuts I think!


Amalfi Girl (EatRunHaveFun.blogspot) December 14, 2010 at 10:01 am

We missed you, too. Thanks for the great salad recipe! I haven’t even thought about Ceasar salad in so long, and I agree with the mayo observation (so true).
Amalfi Girl


Jennifer and Jaclyn @ sketch-free vegan December 14, 2010 at 10:44 am

I’ve been craving caesar salad lately. Maybe I’ll try out this dressing. I’ve made raw caesar dressing before out of almonds and sesame seeds


Never thought to put in dates or celery…It sounds like it works though!


Dee December 14, 2010 at 10:46 am

Oh my gosh! I must, must, must try this! Thank you so much for sharing Gena!


Roselie December 14, 2010 at 10:51 am

Caesar salad yum!!! I can’t wait to make that dressing,but I don’t have a kitchen right now…
Best of luck to you with your changes!!


Alayna @ Thyme Bombe December 14, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Mmmm. Looks pretty simple too. Definitely trying this one!


Tiina December 14, 2010 at 2:46 pm

This looks delicious, and it is always fun to try a new ingredient- like kelp granules. The last “new” ingredient I’ve tried thanks to you is chick pea flour, and just last night I again made your delicious sweet potato burgers, and as I was pouring the chick pea flour, I was thinking “I wish Jenna would invent a vegan socca pizza” mostly because I have never made socca. Looked it up on Mark Bittman’s site, because he makes everything- but have not yet tried. Socca 101?


jenny December 14, 2010 at 2:59 pm

you just reminded me that it’s been years since i’ve had caesar salad of any kind. this recipe looks great.

re: “seismic life change” – i hope everything goes well!


Joanna December 14, 2010 at 3:28 pm

thank you for that, I will be making this salad soon. It will be my first time making something with nutritional yeast. Well, I am a newbie. :)


melissa @ the delicate place December 14, 2010 at 4:21 pm

hang in there! i’m excited to see what new opportunities are coming your way :)


Mauimandy@The Grains of Paradise December 14, 2010 at 5:03 pm

I can’t wait to try this!!! I’ve been searching for a raw vegan alternative to the vegetarian ceasar I’m addicted to! Mahalo!!


Ela December 14, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Missed you too: I enjoy your sharing and your limpid writing style combined with passionate spirit so much.

This sounds like a lovely salad, ‘caesar’ or not! (One of my little observations from living surrounded by ‘standard’ (and often unadventurous) eaters is that food can’t just be a vibrant combination of in-season items: it has to be a known thing, _with a name_!)

I put up a blog a couple days ago trying to make some ground rules for nutritional research and experimentation, and have been inviting comments from people who are clued in about that kind of thing. I’d be so honored if you’d take a look and chime in. It’s at:

Thanks again! And all the best of goodness in the transitions you’re undergoing: I hope it’s all to the good and best.


kristinefitness December 14, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Amazing idea, will definitely be trying this!

Hope everything is well in your life.


Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day December 14, 2010 at 9:16 pm

Good luck with the life changes… I’ve had quite a few in the last several years and it is challenging, but oh so wonderful to go through them..

The salad looks and sounds lovely


melissa December 14, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Who knew? I knew, Gena. I knew. :) xo


falalaraw December 14, 2010 at 10:29 pm

what is fennel?


zoe (and the beatles) December 14, 2010 at 11:02 pm

lovely! i am so with you. i am not a big fan of drenching my salads in dressing and i absolutely loathed getting salads smothered in it, especially caesar dressing! i’m so excited about this! thanks, gena!


tweal December 15, 2010 at 9:48 am

Good luck with those big life changes!!

I love caesar salad, and I was pretty excited to discover raw and vegan versions a few years ago. I find pine nuts give the best flavour, but tahini is nice too.


Veronica (lifewithnature) December 15, 2010 at 12:13 pm

I have to admit, I envy your blogging voice, Gena! You make the simpliest salad recipe post sounds truly worth reading. (Not that a raw ceasar salad dressing doesn’t sounds truly delicious.) More than just for delicious recipes, it’s your choice of words and the way you connect with your readers that always makes me come back here. Continue your great work! And wish you the best with the “pretty seismic life change”.


pure2raw twins December 15, 2010 at 12:52 pm

No apologies needed girl! We have been MIA a lot this past few days/weeks. Since we just did a life changing move!!! We are running around like mad women over here LOL

I wish you all the best!! HUGS

The Twins


elise December 16, 2010 at 9:40 am

hey love, hope all is well. just wanted to drop a comment to say hi and tell you that i always look forward to your posts and its definitely apparent how much you love writing. your passion always shines through.
are you possibly moving?!? i cant imagine a gena not on the UWS?!?


Marlie December 16, 2010 at 2:37 pm


This dressing is amazing! I just made some for my salad – yummers :) Thank you for sharing.


Michelle December 20, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Oh, how I have missed Caesar dressing!! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!
Could something else be subbed for the celery? Thanks!


Jamie December 23, 2010 at 4:07 am

I make a cooked one all the time. It’s my favorite dressing.
I make it with vegenaise, mustard, lemon juice, vegan worcestershire sauce (Or soysauce+kelp powder), garlic powder, and lots of pepper and nooch, and sometimes some dill.
I’ll definitely have to try it raw!


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