Meet Alex Caspero
Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.
A hearty, plant-based Caesar salad! Blackened tofu crumbles with a vegan Caesar dressing. If you love Caesar salad, then you’ll want to try this vegan caesar salad version with blackened tofu!
It’s no secret that I love Caesar salad. Briny, salty, creamy, it’s one of my favorite flavor combos and no surprise that this isn’t the first Caesar recipe on my site.
However, this one is more of a meal salad. With blackened tofu cubes, toasted breadcrumbs and fried capers if you wish.
Caesar salad will always remind me of my Mormor, of what become one of her signature dishes that she would make every Friday night when we’d drive up to her house from Richmond. I rarely cared about what else was served at that meal, as long as I got to enjoy bowl after bowl of Caesar salad. Years later, I’d realize that her secret dressing was just Cardini’s but it didn’t matter. I was hooked on Caesar salad and my love for it as only grown as I’ve gotten older.
While I’m fairly certain I would be happy drinking that aforementioned salad dressing, I wanted to create one that was just as creamy but also plant-based and made from mostly whole foods. My creamy Caesar dressing is a combo of cashews, tahini and lemon juice– the perfect trifecta for bright, tangy Caesar dressing.
I also call for a generous splash of caper brine, the liquid from canned capers. This is a must for me, especially if you are used to a Caesar dressing made from anchovies. This version doesn’t have quite the same salty bite, but I really love the subtile, briny bite that caper juice adds.
Blackened tofu cubes were my main drive in creating this recipe. I’ve been obsessed with the idea of making blackened tofu nuggets to sprinkle on salads, tacos, burritos, bowls– you name it. I tried a few different combinations and felt like this was the winning version with plenty of spice but not too much heat so that my kiddos would eat it. If you aren’t serving it to toddlers, then I highly recommend adding in a generous sprinkle of cayenne pepper.
The key to blackened tofu is pressing out as much water as possible from the tofu. You’ll need a tofu press to make this happen, or wrapping the tofu black in kitchen towels and then placing something heavy on top. This allows the tofu to not become water logged, which is the secret in crispy, seared tofu.
From there, you’ll marinate the tofu in a little soy sauce, then toss the tofu cubes with all of the blackened seasonings. The soy sauce helps the spices cling to the tofu and provides a nice salty kick in each bite. I prefer a low-sodium soy sauce here and if you need to watch your salt intake, then I recommend cutting some of the soy sauce with olive oil.
Instead of traditional croutons, I prefer to toast breadcrumbs until golden brown then toss with the dressed salad. This adds another layer of texture and crunch so you get a similar taste of croutons in every bite.
If you haven’t tried fried capers yet, they are magical. Another step but worth it if you ask me.
Once you’ve made the components then you are ready to toss together. Add the dressing to the torn lettuce and kale leaves and toss until well combined, then add in the toasted breadcrumbs, blackened tofu and fried capers. Toss again, seasoning as desired. I usually add in a generous pinch or two more of freshly ground black pepper and sometimes and extra squeeze of lemon.
If you have time, then I recommend soaking cashews for at least 1 hour. If I’m in a rush, I soak cashews in boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes just to soften. If you have a high-powered blender, like a BlendTec or Vitamix then you likely don’t even need to soak beforehand. I often don’t if I forget and it works to create creamy sauces, you’ll just need to likely stop to scrape down as needed.
Hope you like this Blackened Tofu Caesar Salad as much we do!
A hearty, plant-based Caesar salad! Blackened tofu crumbles with a vegan Caesar dressing. If you love Ceasar salad, then you’ll want to try this vegan caesar salad version with blackened tofu!
2 bunches Tuscan kale, stems removed and torn into small pieces. (About 8-10 cups)
1/4 cup bread crumbs, toasted**
Shredded dairy-free parm, like Violife
Fried capers, optional but highly recommended
*For a more traditional crunchy salad, sub in 1/2 to 3/4 torn romaine lettuce for the kale
** Instead of using croutons, I like to toast bread crumbs and toss with the salad after dressing. Torn, toasted croutons also work!
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