Total time: 45 minutes || Active time: 45 minutes
Photo by Vanessa Rees
“Put some quinoa in it.” It’s almost become my motto. I mean, why not? Everything needs quinoa! Even Caesar Salad. This one really is a meal and it makes a ton because I love it as leftovers. It tastes great the day after and, honestly, still pretty darn good on day 3. But feel free to half it if need be. I am in love with the dressing; it’s creamy, garlicky, briny and tangy and just the kind of stuff you want to stick your face in.
In the video, I’m making it with breaded tofu. There’s another version in Isa Does It with tempeh croutons (pictured), but you can make it even easier (Isa-er?) by simply throwing some chickpeas on top. It’s definitely an entree salad, so pick your additional protein and have fun with it!
~I highly recommend making the quinoa a day in advance so that it’s easy to pull together on a weeknight. Soak the cashews all day so that you can just come home and whip up the dressing.
~For the roasted garlic, you can either roast a head of it a day in advance or buy some. Often big fancy places like Whole Foods will have roasted garlic cloves for sale (there are about 15 in a head) or you can even nab some from the salad bar. But honestly, although it adds another dimension of garlicky sweet deliciousness, you can forego it if need be.
For the Breaded Tofu:
3/4 cup fine storebought breadcrumbs (I use whole wheat)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
14 oz extra firm tofu, sliced into 8 slabs widthwise
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
For The Briny Caesar Dressing:
1/2 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
1 head roasted garlic (about 10 cloves, see tip)
2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 cup capers, with some brine
3/4 cup water
Several dashes fresh black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
For the rest:
6 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
8 oz chopped romaine
4 oz baby arugula (or chopped arugula)
1 avocado, cut diced into 1/2 inch pieces
Make the Breaded Tofu:
Preheat a large non-stick pan, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. On a dinner plate, use your fingertips to mix together the breadcrumbs, dried herbs and garlic. On a separate plate, pour the soy sauce.
Place a tofu slab in the soy sauce, and toss to coat. Then dredge them in the breadcrumbs, tossing to coat. (Use your dry hand to handle the tofu in the breadcrumbs, otherwise you’ll get a crumb mitten on your hand.) Put coated tofus off to the side of the plate and continue until all tofu is coated. Put a thin layer of olive oil in the pan, and then transfer tofu cubes to the pan. Let cook for a few minutes then flip, using a thin metal spatula so that you don’t scrape off the breading. Cook for about 7 minutes total, adding a little extra to the pan as needed, and flipping occasionally until browned on most sides.
Once browned, remove from pan and slice on a bias into 1/4 thick pieces.
Make the dressing:
Simply add all of the ingredients to a small blender or food processor, and puree until smooth. Scrape down the sides every now and again to make sure you get everything. Thin with a little water, if necessary. Keep tightly sealed and refrigerated until ready to use. Keeps for up to 5 days.
Assemble the salad in a very large mixing bowl. Toss the greens with the quinoa, and then add the dressing. Serve topped with tofu and avocado!