Our latest veg delivery turned up a huge lettuce. It got me thinking about Vegangela's Caesar salad recipe and our recent experiments with tempeh bacon. Michael was up for it. Not finding tempeh at the shops, he trialled tofu bacon and it was pretty fab too! More fleshy, for want of a better word, and less crispy. Meanwhile I pulled together the salad dressing and it was just my kind of thing, a little creamy and very tangy. We loved this salad. When the croutons ran out the next day, our remaining tofu bacon and dressed lettuce leaves made great sandwich fillings.
Later in the week I was at a catered event featuring two large bowls of Caesar salad. It struck me as rather inefficient in a time when so many people have special dietary requirements. Eggs, bacon, anchovies, parmesan and croutons - there's enough here to put off vegetarians and vegans, the dairy intolerant, gluten intolerant and anyone keeping kosher. This version has all the flavour of the original and will satisfy almost all those restrictions (the gluteny croutons remain for now).
Caesar salad simulation
(embellished on a recipe from Vegangela)
1/2 cup tamari
1/2 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
600g firm tofu
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
small loaf bread
2 large cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large lettuce
1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon capers
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
Start by marinating the tofu bacon. In a large shallow dish or tray, whisk together the tamari, maple syrup and liquid smoke to form a marinade. Slice the tofu into 3mm-thick pieces and dredge them through the marinade, leaving them to soak up the flavour for at least an hour (we left them in the fridge overnight).
Next work on the croutons. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Remove the crust from the bread and slice the rest into 1 inch cubes. Mince the garlic. In a medium bowl, stir together the bread cubes, garlic and olive oil. Transfer them to a baking tray and spread them out. Bake for 5 minutes, give 'em a stir, then bake them for a further 5 minutes or until they're golden and crunchy. Leave them aside to cool.
Time to finish off the bacon! Fry the tofu slices in the vegetable oil on medium-high heat, until browned on both sides. Slice the tofu bacon into strips and set aside.
Wash the lettuce leaves thoroughly, dry them out, then break them into large-ish pieces and pile them up in a large serving bowl.
Dressing time. Grind the almonds up in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend thoroughly. Season to taste, and add a little water if you'd like it to be thinner. Pour the dressing over the lettuce leaves and toss it through. Add the croutons and bacon and you're done.