The Perfect Holiday Side- My Cashew Kale Caesar


I want to give you a simple but wonderful salad recipe I've been making for the past 4 months and eating at least bi-weekly. Let me tell you--and I do have a whole blog entry in which to do just that--how obsessed I am with Caesar salad. It's one of those simple things that brings me right back to childhood and my bday celebrations at steak restaurants as a little girl. This one is completely dairy, egg and anchovy-free and a perfect side dish for the coming festivities. So if you've been on the prowl for one that fits all of these criteria, this one is all yours. I know it will balance your table spread wonderfully.Truth: There might have been too much pre-holiday celebration going on this weekend.  Finishing my Master's Program, having my good friend from NY drive up to Boston for the weekend to celebrate her birthday, seeing friends throughout the week that I haven't seen in monthssss.  After the weekend I had, it's no wonder my body doesn't feel 100% right now.  I didn't even realize it until I spent both Wednesday night and this morning sitting up in bed at 2am, anxious and unable to fall back into peaceful slumber. In fact, I still haven't fallen asleep since 2. My head feels like someone is mercilessly pinching the meat right between my eyes.The wonderful thing about insomnia though, is that it carves out a convenient chunk of reading time into your evening.  So I Googled what the deal was in everything from Chinese Medicine articlesto Naturopathic Medicine blogs to regular ol' WebMD and finally guessed that it was most likely an incident of low blood sugar, that, or the 2 cups of coffee finally hit me in the middle of the night.  I sure as heck can't celebrate like I used to, and drinking too much red wine at a couple back-to-back dinner events, and having two large iced coffees in the span of only two days (out of character for me) without enough food and water in between has very very unfortunate consequences for me. But all will improve as soon as I embrace a little bit of balance and a lot of hydrating vegetables; balance sounds like heaven right now. In fact, today I'm spelling "balance" C-A-E-S-A-R. 

About this Caesar: I make my Caesars simple; I just need crusty croutons, and a sturdy green that won't buckle under heavy, velvety dressing. This time that green is kale, because it not only holds up well in the salad but in the fridge too. I massaged it well in this case, and then on top goes a generous amount of hearty toasted bread (gluten-free today, because, why not, when I have the supplies for it?)

Here's how you make it.

Makes 4 side salads. 

For the Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup raw cashews

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 5 Tbsp olive oil

  • 2 Tbsp almond milk

  • 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

  • 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar

  • 1 tsp tamari or soy sauce

  • 1/4 tsp-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

  • good amount of salt and lots of fresh cracked pepper to taste

Rest of the Salad:

  • 4-5 slices of gluten free bread (I used Udi's Omega-3 Flax version), cut into bite-sized pieces

  • olive oil for drizzling

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • garlic powder (optional)

  • 4 packed cups of cleaned and cut kale

Directions: Make the dressing by blending the cashews in a high-powered blender until the crumbs are as fine as possible. Then add in the cloves of garlic, and blend until combined. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until completely smooth, scraping down the sides if you need to.  Preheat the oven to 450. Make the croutons by tossing the cut bread on a lined baking sheet with a generous drizzle of olive. Season with salt and pepper and garlic powder (if using). Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes or until dark brown and toasted.In a large bowl, toss the cleaned and cut kale with the caesar dressing, massaging it for a minute to soften it and coat the leaves completely. Top with the croutons and serve.   

P.S.- Happy Winter Solstice!