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Vegetarian Caesar salad recipe {gluten-free}

Vegetarian Caesar salad.

You'll never miss the anchovies in this vegetarian Caesar salad. (Wait, you knew about the fish in the salad dressing, didn't you?) I love to use anchovy paste in traditional Caesar salad dressing, but in this recipe, plain Greek yogurt and sharp, salty Romano cheese stand in for the sharp, salty bite from the fish. Plenty of garlic, giant crunchy croutons made fresh in a frying pan, and crisp, sturdy lettuce combine for a simple salad that relies on big flavor from every ingredient. Add some grilled chicken or shrimp, as restaurants often do, or pile on tomatoes, or bell pepper, or asparagus... well, you get the idea. I always blend some extra dressing, which keeps in the refrigerator for a week, so I have the basic salad for several lunches in a row, with different add-ons every day.

Vegetarian Caesar salad, from The Perfect Pantry.

Vegetarian Caesar salad

From the pantry, you'll need: garlic, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, lemon, olive oil, kosher salt, fresh black pepper.

Serves 2-3 as a main course salad; can be multiplied.


For the dressing:
1 large garlic clove, peeled
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup grated romano cheese (or substitute Parmigiano-Reggiano)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

For the salad:
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cups cubed crusty bread, from a baguette (cut into large, 1-1/2 inch cubes)
6 cups roughly torn lettuce leaves (Romaine, red leaf, etc.)
3 Tbsp kalamata olives


In a blender, combine all ingredients for the dressing, and blend until the garlic is chopped and incorporated with the rest of the ingredients. Set aside.

In a small nonstick frying pan, heat the 2 tablespoons of oil over low-medium heat. Toast the bread cubes, until lightly browned on all sides but still soft in the center, approximately 3-4 minutes. Shake the pan frequently to make sure the cubes are browning evenly.

Set out a large mixing bowl. Add the lettuce, olives, and toasted bread cubes. Pour in the salad dressing, a bit at a time, and mix well but gently after each addition. You might not use all of the dressing; just make sure the salad greens don't drown. Refrigerate any leftover dressing for another time.

Serve immediately. If you wish, add some grilled shrimp or chicken to the salad just before you serve.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More meal-in-a-bowl salad recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Bacon, lettuce and tomato salad with creamy basil dressing
Greek pasta salad with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette
Chickpea, quinoa and spinach salad with preserved lemon vinaigrette
Caesar salad with shrimp
Quinoa, avocado, tomato and black bean salad with chipotle lime dressing

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Chicken Caesar salad, from Smitten Kitchen
Massaged kale Caesar salad, from Annie's Eats
Vegan Caesar salad, from 101 Cookbooks
Caesar salad pizza, from Inspired Taste
Grilled romaine Caesar salad, from The Lemon Bowl

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


I have to say I do like anchovies in my Caesar Salad Dressing, but it's always great to have an anchovy-free option for guests who don't like them.

Sounds tasty, however, not all vegetarians would agree to yoghurt being milk- and thus animal-based.

I have a "head in sand" approach to anchovies - don't tell me they are in there and I love them. I f I know - no thanks! But I am not a vegetarian, I just find all fish things yucky - especially when hairy! :-)

Thank you so very much for this wonderful, delicious and easy recipe! We are vegetarian and LOVE it! We will share it with many friends and family who share our lifestyle. Great taste and best of all made out of things that we already had/have in the fridge. I did add a bit of sour cream and a few yeast flakes! Yummy!

That dressing sounds delicious to me! I think I'll have to try it out for dinner tonight! :)

And @Darragh McCurragh most folks who consider themselves to be "vegetarians" are ovo-lacto, meaning that they eat egg and dairy products. It's vegans who don't eat any animal products at all :)

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