The Ultimate Protein-Packed Vegan Caesar Salad

By Alexandra Caspero on February 4, 2019

Are you ready for the ultimate high protein vegan caesar salad? The one that’s covered in a creamy, vegan caesar dressing and topped with crispy tempeh bacon bits, crispy chickpea croutons and homemade vegan parmesan cheese.

This really is one of the best vegan salads, and something I make all the time when I’m hosting company. I get together with my mom friends every week or so for a lunch play-date. It’s a time when our kids can get together and more importantly, when we moms can catch up and eat!

I prefer to host these events because, well, I just love hosting. Even though our home is not made for large get togethers, it’s so fun to make a new recipe for my friends with the added bonus of not having to pack up Vander and drive anywhere.

Well, I made this high-protein vegan caesar salad for everyone last week and it was a HUGE hit. Most people know that I’m likely serving vegan/vegetarian food to them, but they all couldn’t believe that the dressing was completely dairy-free.

ultimate protein vegan kale caesar sald

How to make a High Protein Vegan Caesar Salad

This high protein vegan caesar salad has lots of moving parts, but they can mostly all be made ahead of time for easy assemble when you are ready.

1. The vegan caesar dressing! This dressing recipe is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Isa Does It. Her dressing recipe is a little more garlic heavy than mine, but I didn’t want it to overpower the other parts. Mix everything together in a blender, this dressing will keep for ~5 days in the fridge.

2. Tempeh bacon crumbles! Familiar readers will know this recipe, as it’s one that I use ALL the time. I love it in pasta and I really love it in this recipe. I prefer to cube the tempeh, but you can also crumble it with a grater. Just depends on the texture you prefer! This can also be made ahead of time, and then reheat (or don’t!) in the fridge.

3. Crispy chickpeas! I love adding these for a extra protein-crunch, but I don’t think they keep as well after they are made. Therefore, you can leave them out if you want to make this recipe for quick assemble during the week.

4. Mix of greens. This recipe will taste great with just about any green, but I like the combo of lettuce and shredded kale. I think the kale is a little more hearty and stands up to the dressing very well. If you don’t think you like kale, then try this method. Wash and dry, then remove the inner rib. Stack the leaves, and roll very tightly like a cigar. Then, starting from one end, slice the kale into thin ribbons.

crispy tempeh bacon bits protein kale caesar salad protein vegan kale caesar salad with parmesan cheese and vegan caesar dressing

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vegan caesar salad

The Ultimate High Protein Vegan Caesar Salad

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: salad, kale, healthy, dressing, caeser, protein
  • Method: Stove Top, No Cook
  • Cuisine: vegan, salad, caesar, American

Description

The Ultimate Protein Packed Vegan Caesar Salad! This is the salad to answer “where do you get your protein from!?” Well, how about a salad!? A vegan caesar salad with crispy tempeh bacon bits, crispy garlic chickpeas, vegan nut parmesan and the most amazing, briny vegan caesar dressing. 19-28g of protein per serving!


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: salad, kale, healthy, dressing, caeser, protein
  • Method: Stove Top, No Cook
  • Cuisine: vegan, salad, caesar, American
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x
  • Category: salad, kale, healthy, dressing, caeser, protein
  • Method: Stove Top, No Cook
  • Cuisine: vegan, salad, caesar, American
Scale

Ingredients

Tempeh Bacon Bits:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces tempeh, crumbled or finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Crispy Chickpeas:

  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Vegan Caesar Dressing: 

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 3 hours (see notes)
  • 1/41/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon caper brine
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon vegan worchestire sauce (optional, but gives great flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Salad Ingredients: 

Instructions

  1. Make the tempeh: Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the tempeh and cook for 5-6 minutes, until tempeh is golden brown and lightly crispy. Whisk together the soy sauce, maple syrup, balsamic, cumin and red pepper flakes, then add to the skillet. Cook, until tempeh becomes crispy and browned, another ~5 minutes. Stir often so the tempeh doesn’t burn.
  2. Make the chickpeas: Remove the tempeh from the skillet, set aside, and wipe out the skillet. Heat the skillet back over medium heat. Toss the chickpeas with the oil, salt, garlic and cayenne pepper and add to the skillet. Cook, tossing often, until chickpeas are crispy, about 8-10 minutes.
  3. Make the dressing: Place everything into a blender and puree until very creamy and cashews are no longer grainy, scraping down the sides as needed. If the dressing becomes too thick, then add in a little more water. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt/pepper as needed.
  4. Assemble the salad! Place the kale, lettuce, tempeh, chickpeas, parmesan in a large bowl. Add in 1/2 of the dressing and toss to combine until well coated. Continue to add more dressing, as desired. Enjoy! So, so good.

Notes

  • No time to soak cashews? No problem. Use this hack: place raw cashews in a container and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 30 minutes, then drain.

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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.

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    1. Stephen
      February 27, 2021 AT 4:51 pm

      I’m about to make that Caesar dressing again! It must be the tenth time in a month I’m coming back to this recipe…it’s absolutely finger-licking delicious!!! I have to double or triple the batch this time…I eat it so quickly! It makes me absolutely crave salads these days! Thanks!

      1. Alex
        March 1, 2021 AT 8:24 am

        So glad to hear, thanks Stephen!

    2. susan
      February 5, 2019 AT 4:52 pm

      Hi, Alex, I plan to make the tempeh bacon tomorrow because I like it a lot! Fun to have it handy to add to salad or on crackers etc. Do you recommend steaming the tempeh before slicing or crumbling ? I believe I read that on your blog at one time and have been doing it but it would be nice to omit a step if it doesn’t affect flavor and texture. I also bought the ingredients for the tofu rice bowl you suggested as a good method for making tofu for beginners. Looking forward to trying! Thanks for your awesome recipes. Love that there are more vegan meal ideas on your website.:)

      1. Alex
        February 6, 2019 AT 7:01 am

        Yes, we love the bacon as well! You don’t have to steam it first. I use a pretty mild tempeh (usually one by lightlife or trader joe’s). However, if you find that the tempeh is bitter at all -then you’ll want to steam it first next time. Yes, trying to add in more vegan recipes!

        1. Susan
          February 6, 2019 AT 7:49 am

          Thank you Alex ! You caught me before I got started I will go right into recipe then. The only brand I can find up here is 55 miles away and it’s the 5 grain by Yves. (West Soy). I think that’s why it was reduced to tiny crumbles when I made your sausage recipe. It was still good though. Thanks!

    3. Rosey
      February 5, 2019 AT 4:52 am

      We made this for dinner last night. My husband said, “wow. This is really good!”
      He doesn’t usually like chickpeas on salad, but said he really enjoyed them here. Five stars!
      The tempeh will be staple in our house to add to salads and grain bowls too! So delish!

      1. Alex
        February 5, 2019 AT 8:42 am

        So glad you liked it!