A vegan Swiss chard Caesar salad might sound like a lot to take in all at once. But we promise, it’s not. It’s delicious sourdough croutons and a marvelous dressing made from silken tofu, capers, garlic, Dijon, Tabasco, and a hint of maple syrup. It’s all here.
My sister-in-law, Sherie, is not only a fabulous sister to my wife and an incredible auntie to Olive, but two years ago she also graciously stepped in as our full-time caregiver. We feel so honored and thankful to have her in that role.
Along with all those things, she is also the “resident vegan” in our lives. I really can’t thank her enough for being vegan, because it has made me think more about what and how I cook. It opened up a whole new door of food exploration for me and made me think more about preparing food with intention. She made me realize how much I was reaching for the cheese to finish off most of my dishes!
Each Christmas, our families come together and I serve Vegan Swiss chard Caesar salad, and nobody even realizes it’s a vegan recipe. Even more shocking is that nobody even thinks to ask for the Parmesan! As a tip, reach for the silken tofu at the store. This will make the dressing extra creamy without having to use any eggs or mayonnaise. Bon appétit! — Ryan Scott
Vegan Swiss Chard Caesar Salad
For the croutons
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 garlic clove minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 large sourdough loaf unsliced
For the dressing
- 1/2 cup silken tofu
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 3 garlic cloves peeled
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest preferably organic
- 6 dashes of Tabasco sauce
For the salad
- 3 bunches Swiss chard* leaves stemmed and chopped into bite-size pieces, or 1 large bag chopped fresh chard leaves
Make the croutons
- Preheat the oven to 325°F (163°C). Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Tear the bread into bite-size chunks and add to the bowl. Toss the bread chunks in the oil mixture until they are well coated.
- Arrange the bread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until they are toasted and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. The edges will be dark brown, and there should still be just a touch of softness in the centers.
Make the dressing
- In a food processor or blender, combine the tofu, lemon juice, olive oil, capers, garlic, maple syrup, mustard, pepper, lemon zest, and Tabasco and blitz until smooth.
Assemble the salad
- Place the chard in a large salad bowl and pour over half the dressing. Top with the croutons (it’s okay if they are still slightly warm) and toss everything together to coat.
- Taste and add more dressing if you desire. The dressing keeps well in the fridge, so any extra can be saved for later. Any extra croutons can be frozen.
*What is Swiss chard?In the spectrum of greens, Swiss chard is somewhere in between spinach and kale. Kale, the toughest leaf out there, is far more sturdy than Swiss chard while spinach is quite a bit more delicate. Swiss chard is toothsome but still delicate enough to make a salad like this easy to eat, with no advance prep. The stems can be tough but aren’t eaten raw very often. Still hungry to learn more? Lucky for you, we’re absolute fonts of knowledge. Check out this article, by our very own David Leite—it’s got everything you need to know.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
You can never go wrong with a classic Caesar salad, but I can guarantee you’ll never have one as smart as this vegan Swiss chard Caesar salad.
The overwhelming star of this dish is the dressing. Who needs Parmesan or eggs or mayo when you have this genius dressing?! I’ve never made a condiment with silken tofu as the base, but it’s a genius ingredient to get that creamy texture that people love about Caesar dressing. The capers added nice, umami-loaded briny notes to replace the anchovies you’d usually find, as well.
Seasonal Swiss chard is also a lovely replacement for the standard romaine lettuce. Its natural bitterness complements the dressing’s sweet maple syrup and the bright lemon juice and zest. It was a perfect pairing with pork chops with strawberry balsamic sauce--I know, I know, goes completely against the vegan-ity of this dish!
The vegan Swiss chard Caesar salad was an excellent alternative to the traditional. Although the salad was plant-based, it was filling and satisfying but not heavy. The chard maintained its crunch and crispness and the croutons absorbed just the right amount of dressing. I enjoyed the salad by itself but it would make a good accompaniment to anything you would enjoy with a traditional Caesar salad. I set aside part of the chard, dressing, and croutons, and enjoyed the salad for lunch the following day.
Originally published July 12, 2021