A California Caesar Salad {V + GF}

May 4, 2016

A California Caesar Salad {Vegan & Gluten Free} by Faring Well

Marriage is a crazy thought. Here we are, single and doing whatever, until one day we bump into the right someone who makes us think “hey, I could be around you everyday, forever.” I don’t even like being around myself everyday, let alone could imagine wanting to include another complicated human in my daily lineup. Scott changed my mind. He changed everything. I’d rather be around him than myself most days. We met while working together six years ago, and after getting married we went to work at separate places for the first time, and it was rough. We missed each other all day, and then felt like we were just playing “catch up” each night. This is the typical flow for most couples, I know, and I am truly thankful for every moment we have together. But with the recent blessing of getting to move back to California came an additional gift. We get to work from home together, and I don’t think we have been happier. I have my best bud around all day. Granted he works in a different room than me, because we are human and need space, but he is never more than a holler away. And seeing as my way of showing love is taking care of someone, I get to “love” him all day. By making him breakfast and lunch, brewing an extra cup of coffee for him in the afternoon, and bringing him a little square of chocolate when I sense he is craving something sweet. I love taking care of my bud, and I love clocking out of work at the end of the day together. No commute home, just a few seconds walk outside to hop on our bikes and begin the rest of the evening with one another. He makes me laugh, hard. Even when he is miffed about something, thats usually when he makes me laugh the hardest.

I had to take Scott to the airport this past Sunday, he was going to work in-office for a few days in Denver. Today is day three, and I am itching with excitement to pick him up from the airport tonight. I had forgotten how lonely it was to be at home without him all day. When do I need to have my work done by if there is no one waiting on me? When should I eat lunch if there is no one to join me? I’m so use to considering him, I don’t know how “not to”. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not a clingy over-dependent girl. If anything I am incredibly individualistic with my tendencies and prefer space. However, I found that even my most independent and “free” days aren’t as gratifying as those I spend caring for and loving Scott. He enriches my life, to an extent I cannot communicate. So I took this alone time to perfect a special birthday treat for him this weekend, coming to the blog this Saturday (get SO EXCITED). But for now, his favorite salad. Because its picnic weather, and with every bite of sweet I need a savory.

A California Caesar Salad {Vegan & Gluten Free} by Faring WellBrazil Nut Vegan Parmesan by Faring WellA California Caesar Salad {Vegan & Gluten Free} by Faring WellA California Caesar Salad {Vegan & Gluten Free} by Faring Well

Did you know that May is salad month? I mean, lets be real – every month is salad month in my domain! But it is actually recognized as so in May, and I think it is just the neatest to celebrate fresh food. So when the lovely Araya from Willful wrote me asking if I’d like to contribute to the festivities this month I had to hop on board. Salad runs deep with me, I cannot get by in a week without heaping bowls full of salad. Not the wimpy “before your real meal comes” salads usually served as appetizers. But the hearty, fill your belly and fuel your day kind of salads. Usually heaping with fresh veggies, a type of protein, a creamy sauce, and something crunchy. All ingredients being plant based and pure, while also making you drool from the lip-smacking flavor. Those are my salads. I’v been wanting to come up with a fresh caesar salad that was vegan and gluten free for a while now, and took the opportunity to test the heck out of this recipe last week before bringing it to you here. I swapped the nutritionally empty croutons with crispy lemon pepper tofu, made my favorite brazil nut based parmesan, and added some California vibes with the diced avocado – this totally made the salad for me. And this dressing (!!!) hear me out. The ingredient list looks scary, but I promise most if not all of the ingredients are sitting in your pantry. I only had to pick up some capers and kalamata olives to whip it up, and you simply throw all the ingredients into your blender for a whiz. Then ta-da! Layers and layers of the best caesar flavor I’ve tasted yet. I hope you get to try it too and agree. Let me know, and have a gorgeous rest of the week friends!

A California Caesar Salad {Vegan & Gluten Free} by Faring WellA California Caesar Salad {Vegan & Gluten Free} by Faring WellA California Caesar Salad {Vegan & Gluten Free} by Faring WellA California Caesar Salad {Vegan & Gluten Free} by Faring Well

This post was done in collaboration with Willful to celebrate “Salad Month”. All words and opinions are my own, and I truly love their products and mission. Read more about Araya’s story here

Be sure to follow me on Instagram and tag photos you post of my recipes with #FWmakers so I can see!

Makes 4 servings.

caesar dressing
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup filtered water
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon tamari
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon flax oil (or EVOO)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon capers
3 kalamata olives
2 teaspoons tahini
2 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon raw honey (or maple syrup)

lemon pepper tofu
1 block (14 oz.) extra firm tofu
1 tablespoon quality EVOO
juice from 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

brazil nut parmesan
1/2 cup raw brazil nuts
zest from 1 large, organic lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 clove of garlic

4 stalks dino kale
2 heads of romaine (or 4 hearts)
2 medium avocados, ripe

Combine the ingredients for the dressing in an upright blender and puree on high until silky smooth. Transfer to a jar and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Store leftover dressing in the fridge and use within a week.

Rinse and pat dry the tofu. Press between a few towels to remove as much moisture as you can, then slice into 32 cubes, 1 inch by 1 inch. Place on a rimmed plate and drizzle with the olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with a few pinches of sea salt and a 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Flip the cubes once and sprinkle with additional sea salt and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Set aside to marinate while the oven preheats to 350F. When the oven is ready, place the cubes of tofu on a parchment lined baking sheet, spaced evenly apart. Bake for 45 minutes, flipping the cubes every 15 minutes. When done, set the tofu aside to cool while you prepare the salad. The tofu can be made in advanced, cooled, and placed in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Combine the ingredients for the brazil nut parmesan in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Transfer to an airtight jar. Use right away, and store leftovers in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Rinse and pat dry the leaves of lettuce for the salad. Trim the stem from the dino kale and slice into thin ribbons. Thinly slice the romaine, and add it along with the dino kale to a large serving bowl. Drizzle with half of the dressing and toss. Divide between 4 bowls, and top each bowl with 8 cubes of lemon pepper tofu, half an avocado (diced), 2 teaspoons of brazil nut parmesan, and an additional drizzle of dressing (if desired). Enjoy right away.


A California Caesar Salad {Vegan & Gluten Free} by Faring Well


  • Reply Ksenia @ At the Immigrant's Table May 4, 2016 at 4:47 am

    i love that you guys are lucky enough to be able to, and succeed to, work together. That degree of closeness is not to be taken for granted, as I’m sure you realize… But it can make a bond so much stronger. And if that salad is involved, I can’t imagine it doing anything but growing stronger. Happy birthday celebration!

    • Reply Faring Well May 5, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      Thank you sincerely Ksenia! That means so much, and is so true. It makes the bond so much greater! Especially when I walk in with a bowl of this salad for lunch ;) happy day to you!

  • Reply amy May 4, 2016 at 6:51 am

    “I’d rather be around him than myself most days”… beautifully written, and this recipe is on my must-try list. thank you!

    • Reply Faring Well May 5, 2016 at 1:38 pm

      Thank you Amy, so many x’s and o’s

  • Reply Jodi May 4, 2016 at 8:01 am

    Such sweet words, Jessie! I bet Scott is reading this and itching to get home too. You guys – so happy your move back to California has brought you closer together, it was right. This salad dressing has got me dreaming! That is one beautiful list of ingredients! I really really need to give it a try! Happy Salad Month (season? year?)! x

    • Reply Faring Well May 5, 2016 at 1:39 pm

      Aw thank you Jodi! I am so happy for you and Matt as well, your snaps have my jaw dropping – what a gorgeous place you’ve moved to! Ah. We have to visit each other one day. And make this salad ;)

  • Reply Arthur in the Garden! May 4, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Yummy! A must try!

  • Reply Lauren May 4, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    I work with my husband and while most people give us the “I could never do that” comment, I couldn’t feel luckier! Every day is a lunch date day! I just got back from New Orleans and now I’m in need of an entire vegan week reset :) This salad totally fits the bill!

    • Reply Faring Well May 5, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      That is just the best Lauren! How lucky are we. I’m so happy for you two, and hope you both get to enjoy this tasty salad soon ;) XO

  • Reply Sabine - Sweet Lemons and Lilikoi May 4, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    What a lovely post. Still got goose bumps on my arms from reading it. Truly sweet and just plain honest. Not many people know how to treasure what they have (together). This should be read by the entire world. And I am truly excited to see what’s up this weekend. Cheers from NorCal.
    P.S.( I am a salad lover too, the real thing like you said however was always shunning away from Cesar versions for many reasons. Love how this one sounds. Will give it a try)

    • Reply Faring Well May 5, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      Sabine, thank you with all my heart! This was so kind of you to say, and I am so very happy you enjoyed the post and that the recipe has caught your eye as well! Let me know if you do try :) happy almost weekend to you!

  • Reply Renee May 4, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    OMG this is definitely my type of salad. I love this idea especially when making it for your man as well, who needs a bit more going on in a salad to keep him full. I can’t wait to make this and give it a go. Thanks for creating such a delicious looking recipe :) http://www.reneesexton.co.nz

    • Reply Faring Well May 5, 2016 at 1:43 pm

      Aw yay! So happy to hear Renee! And I agree, any salad a man finds filling is a good salad in my book. Thank you for your sweet words, have a tasty week! XO

  • Reply Sarah | Well and Full May 4, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Reading your words about Scott makes my heart smile! It really makes me believe in true love. The fact that you two found each other is such a blessing, a sign of God’s love. It’s so wonderful to witness a little part of something so wonderful <3

    • Reply Faring Well May 5, 2016 at 1:44 pm

      Sarah, you just make me smile. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Wish I could give you a big hug right now! And then make you this salad ;)

  • Reply Bri | Natural Girl Modern World May 5, 2016 at 12:25 am

    Love, love, LOVE this post Jessie! You and Scott sound like the perfect pair. And so glad you get to work from home together in sunny Cali! The dream. And talking about dreams, this salad sounds amazing. I’ve been dying to find a good vegan caesar salad recipe and this one looks like THE ONE. Brazil nut parm is my absolute fav! I usually make it with garlic powder, but I need to try it with lemon as you recommend. Much love! xx

    • Reply Faring Well May 5, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      Bri! you are the downright sweetest. Thank you friend! And I hope this really is the caesar recipe you come to love, I know we are crazy for it right now. I sub fresh garlic with powder as well when I’m too lazy to peel a clove (95% of the time) so it would be delish either way! But yes, that lemon is magical – definitely try! Hope you have a gorgeous week girl, XO

  • Reply Ingrid - Let's talk evergreen May 5, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    That is so sweet of you Jessie! Scott is a lucky man. I know how you feel, whenever Rob’s not at home I miss him too. We did the same study for 4 years and were also very used to being around each other. It took a while to get used to not doing that anymore. This salad looks great. It’s very sunny out here, so maybe I’ll make it sooner rather than later!

    Big hug!

    • Reply Faring Well May 6, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Thank you tons sweet Ingrid! That is so great you two had that time together too. And I hope you get to make and enjoy this said soon! xoxo

  • Reply Gena May 6, 2016 at 11:29 am

    What a sweet post, Jessie, and what a special tribute to your life with Scott. To work so closely together without friction is, of course, a significant testament to the strength and power of your relationship. And I know just what you mean about having one’s mind changed about proximity/space/togetherness by a single person. I thrive on solitude, and until I met Steven, it was very hard for me to imagine sharing space. I was more than a little nervous when we moved in together a year and a half ago, but it has been a sweet, sweet journey so far, and now it’s hard to imagine things without him!

    Happy early birthday to Scott :) Can’t wait to see the special treat you’ve got brewing.

    • Reply Faring Well May 6, 2016 at 6:34 pm

      Aw Gena, thank you! It really feels so special. That is so wonderful to hear you found the same joy in sharing your space with Steven. Its such a gift to be in relationships like these! And thank you about Scott’s bday too :) so crazy excited to sink my face into his treat tomorrow – I mean – give him his treat tomorrow ;).

  • Reply Maya | Spice + Sprout May 6, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Jessie, this post completely warmed my heart! I am constantly inspired by your words and cheerful way of seeing the world. I really love what you said about not being clingy or dependant. I think IT IS super strong and independent to be able to love someone that much. It takes a really strong sense of self to be able to share part of you with someone else (at least I think it does) and that is an amazing thing. Stay strong, girl xo

    • Reply Faring Well May 11, 2016 at 10:37 am

      Oh my goodness Maya, thank you! This was so sweet of you to say. You are just warming my heart today too! xo

  • Reply Nina May 10, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    Its genius, and I wish I could have a whole bowl of this now. Lovely, Jessie, Big heart!

  • Reply Shelley | Sevengrams May 10, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    I finished reading this post and caught myself with a dorky grin on my face. Such sweet, honest words Jessie — so lovely, and heart warming. When I was studying for my licensing exam last fall, I took a week off pre exam for a final push, and had the pleasure of being at home with my man all day (who works from home). I totally get everything you said and feel… totally, totally get it.

    • Reply Faring Well May 11, 2016 at 10:38 am

      Aw Shelley, thank you! You are so sweet. So wonderful to hear there is someone else who understands as well too <3 lots of x's and o's for you friend.

  • Reply KJ | Omnomherbivore May 10, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    I love that you used Dino Kale!! It’s my favorite!! I eat dino kale with dijon mustard for lunch alot (like way more than normal). And I agree I loved when I worked with my husband. We would commute together and chat in the car then split ways till lunch when we got to work. Knowing your buddy is there when something big or upsetting happening at work is such a relief!! Glad you’re enjoying your time together :)

    • Reply Faring Well May 11, 2016 at 10:39 am

      Thank you KJ! It truly is the best, so so wonderful <3

  • Reply Emily | Gather & Dine May 13, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Just getting back from a little family trip and I see that I’ve missed so much here! You and Scott sound like the most caring and sweetest couple ever- what an incredible blessing. I’m with you in having so much joy in showing love through food. I can tell you worked so hard on getting this dressing just right- can’t wait to try it!

  • Reply Elle July 9, 2016 at 1:44 am

    Really love how open you are. I rarely read blogs, but have to say you may have inspired me to start. Beautifully written, gorgeous photos, and as a fellow salad lover…what can I say? Life without salad, not possible. Living foward to giving this one a try. :)

    • Reply Faring Well July 9, 2016 at 8:15 am

      You are too too sweet Elle, thank you for your kind comment here and love for this recipe too! I hope you make and enjoy it tons, happy weekend girl <3

  • Reply Talia Kenan June 12, 2017 at 11:05 am

    Oh my goodness. I just made this and it is absolutely scrumptious!!! I want to swim in this dressing. Next time I’ll have to try adding the Brazilian parm too :)

    • Reply Faring Well June 12, 2017 at 1:25 pm

      Oh yay! I’m so incredibly happy to hear Talia! It is one of our faves too :) enjoy it tons girl. And YES to that parm eventually too. xx

  • Reply Lauren November 13, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Jessie! I just wanted to tell you I make this Caesar Salad ALL.THE.TIME. and it is truly delicious. The dressing ingredient list is a mile long but I just follow your measurements and it comes out perfect time after time. Thank you for this special recipe :)

    • Reply Faring Well November 14, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Aw Lauren! Thank you! It means so much you took the time to write me this, I’m so happy to hear you’ve been enjoying this salad. And kudos to you for sticking to the lengthy dressing recipe! I’m glad to know it’s been so reliable – XO.

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