Caesar-y Salad

Some may call it blasphemy to leave out the cheese, oil, eggs and anchovies in Caesar dressing, but this concerns me less than living life without any type of Caesar dressing at all. This creamy, garlicky, and healthy “Caesar-y Salad” is just the ticket!


In addition to leaving out oil, cheese, eggs and fish, I also left out Worcestershire (a sauce that contains anchovies fermented in brine) and sugar (often molasses, high fructose corn syrup, and/or brown sugar) since concentrated and refined salts and sugars are ingredients I strive to avoid in my cooking.

I also have not included croutons, which are very traditional in Caesar salad but are usually made from white bread coated in oil and salt. In this version, I keep it simple by just using lettuce, bell pepper and avocado, but there are plenty of other items you can add to your salad without losing that wonderful Caesar taste and appeal (see Notes below).

Dressing Ingredients
½ cup water
1/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews (2 oz.)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon raisins
1-2 medium cloves fresh garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs

Salad Ingredients
1 large head Romaine lettuce
1 avocado, pitted and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1. Place all of the dressing ingredients into a blender and set aside. Chop or tear the washed lettuce leaves into bite-sized pieces, and place into a large salad bowl with the diced red bell pepper and avocado.

2. Blend the dressing ingredients until creamy. Pour half of the dressing over the salad and toss, adding more as needed and to your tastes (save any leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to five days). Serve with a little ground black pepper. Dressing is best added just before serving.

Preparation: 15 minutes
Makes: 1 cup dressing; salad serves: 4-6


Salad additions: Add any veggies you like, such as grated carrots, zucchini, cabbage or beets, green onions, tomatoes, celery, peas, sprouts or chopped fresh basil. And instead of the commonly added croutons or chicken, try some roasted potato chunks seasoned with granulated garlic and/or poultry seasoning.

The cheesy look: If you would like a Parmesan cheese look, use a rotary cheese grater to add a light dusting of walnuts or cashews to the top of the salad (as shown in top photo). For thicker “cheese” shavings, peel the brown outer layer from a jicama and discard, then peel some of the white flesh into your salad (see photo directly below).

Garlic-eee: Caesar dressing is known for its garlicky punch. But there can be a big taste difference between 1 and 2 cloves, depending on the size. I usually start with 1 clove and then taste it after blending; if it needs more, I add a second clove (or half a clove).

Above: With thinly peeled raw jicama to resemble Parmesan cheese shavings.

Caesar salad is said to have been invented by restaurateur Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant to the US who first made the dish in 1924. When he ran out of his usual salad ingredients, he had to make do and came up with Caesar salad. However, he used whole lettuce leaves instead of chopped and did not use anchovies.

Above: Caesar-y Salad with mashed Yukon gold potatoes and steamed cauliflower.

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  1. Andrea R says

    I love you for this! I have a Vegan Caesar Dresing we ADORED but is not even close to being oil-free or healthy. I have been on the hunt for another. I will try this! What are your thoughts on Miso in Caesar dressing?

    • says

      So happy to hear that Andrea! :) I don’t use miso (a traditional Japanese seasoning produced by fermenting rice, barley, and/or soybeans with salt) in my cooking because it’s so concentrated with salt.

      • Andrea R says

        Thanks Cathy. Salt is still an issue for me that I am working to wean off from. I have never noticed any issues ever with using it but recently with pregnancy I have been getting a lot of edema in my calves and feet and figure that has to be it because I am only 18 weeks and I eat so clean otherwise. (no sugar, no oils, vegan)

        • says

          Thanks Andrea. :) Yay, a vegan momma! Yes, salt is a challenge. I don’t use any at home knowing that when I go out (which isn’t that often) I will get it. Even if you don’t add any to your food, restaurants add a lot in the preparation, one of the ways they keep people coming back. 😉

          • Andrea R says

            Yes, they are smart! I mostly don’t eat things that come from a box and I don’t add it to my food while cooking-but I will add it on top like it is going out of style sometimes. My kids even ask for it now which KILLS me. They can eat a whole pound of broccoli between the two of them (I have a 5 year old boy and an almost 3 year old girl) but they want it to have salt on top. Need to find some good weaning approaches for the family, like a good salt-free seaoning that the kids will like too. Just don’t know a good one, just tried Mrs. Dash which I am not fond of.

            • says

              Andrea, try Benson’s Tasty Table salt-free seasonings (order online) or ground/dried celery, which you can find at a spice shop. They may also like salt-free poultry seasoning.

            • Linda Dale says

              Andrea, you might like Mrs. Dash’s “Lemon Pepper No-Salt Seasoning” – the lemon is nice with broccoli. Also, I have two grandchildren who are almost 4 and almost 2 and they like nutritional yeast blends on their steamed vegetables. Sesame seeds are good with n.yeast, as are almonds or sunflower seeds. If you have a coffee grinder that you use for nuts and seeds, just put a tablespoon of n.yeast in there with a tablespoon of the nuts or seeds, and grind them up together. I keep an already-made supply of ground yeast/sesame seeds in a small jar in the fridge.

  2. says

    Ooohhh, this looks delicious! I love how you have made adjustments with salt-containing ingredients. I also love the topping suggestions, especially with the jicama!

  3. Mary Pent says

    If you take everything out of a Caesar salad that makes a Caesar salad, I wouldn’t even go there. How about…here’s a fantastic salad I just made up! :) Thanks for the great recipes!

    • says

      Hi Mary, because I wanted people to know that it was an interpretation of the classic, for those who miss those great flavors. Hopefully my title of “Caesar-y” let’s people know it’s similar but different. :)

  4. Tom says

    I rate my recipes 3, 4, 5 stars so that I can recall how much I liked them. I LITERALLY gave this recipes 500 STARS!!! OMG. Cathy, the dressing is RIDICULOUS!! This is going to be a go to recipe for me. I LOVED and LOVE IT. Thank you so much. LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS. You are so wonderfully creative. Much appreciation.

  5. debbie stevenson says

    what can I do about the nuts? I am allergic, I feel so limited with so many vegan recipes because so many recipes have nuts.

    • says

      Hi Debbie, you can leave them out entirely (won’t be as creamy/rich, but will still have great flavor) or you can substitute with some white beans or tofu. :)

      • Linda Dale says

        Debbie, are you allergic to seeds, too? If not, sunflower seeds are a good substitute for nuts in some recipes.

  6. Susanti says

    This is so delicious! I used fresh herbs so it turned green and is soooo yummy! Better than fishy Caesar. Thanks.

  7. says

    Your dressing looks so good & just the thing to get me back on track.
    I made my own worcestershire sauce, no anchovies but yes sugar ingredients are plum jam & molasses, a good flavour hit for the small amount needed in a recipe.

  8. Zeke says

    I just tried this recipe last night and personally loved it. The family wasn’t as sold, so I guess this one is just for me, though my son took the other half pepper and gnawed on that.

    I did make a few substitutions & changes based on my on preferences:
    1 Tbsp Dijon (I’m not a huge fan of mustard – though as part of something bigger, sure . . .)
    Herbs de Province instead of d’Italia
    No avocado. I can only take it in very small doses.

    Where can you get raw cashew more cheaply? These were very expensive, more than roasted, salted ones! Clearly the cashews are the most important part, though (I’d never have thought to use nuts like these to make a creamy dressing).

    • says

      Hi Zeke, thanks for the comments! 😉 It always seems the raw, unsalted varieties are more expensive, especially if organic as well. You can use walnuts or another nut. I don’t use that many nuts so just get the amount I need per recipe, usually at Whole Foods or wherever bulk nuts are sold.

  9. Sue says

    I have been looking for a tasty salad dressing since so much of my food revolves around salad! So far I have not found one that actually tastes good— til now! Your Caesar-y dressing is delish!! I think it is the sweet of raisins against the garlic and acid of lemon. Wow. It is amazing. Thank you!!!! Changing my dull salads:)

  10. Lynn says

    This is nothing short of amazing. Ceaser salad was my Dad’s favorite, and I have many memories of going to restaurants with him and having Ceasar Salad. It is so nice to have a healthy version!

  11. says

    Hi Cathy, I know that white vinegar is dangerous to the stomach lining. Are rice vinegar & Balsamic vinegars dangerous to use also. I use lemon juice in all my recipes, but will it make a difference in the taste as I am anxious to try you caesar salad…Alice

  12. Jim McGuire says

    Hi Cathy,My wife and I met you at Dr McDougalls in March and this is the BEST Caesar Salad dressing we have ever had. It’s better than my old pre-plant based days Caesar dressing. I can’t believe we used to think we needed oil in everything. Jim&Flo

  13. says

    I made the dressing to eat with our July 4th dinner tonight. I thought it was delicious. I used it over a cruciferous crunch salad [a new Trader Joe’s salad selection] with added chopped sweet onion, cherry tomatoes and cucumber. I’ve been looking for caesar-y dressing, and I’m still looking for a tasty ranch one. Thank you Cathy!

  14. Diane says

    what seasoning do you use called dry Italian herbs? Is this the traditional Italian seasoning one finds in most supermarkets or Penzy’s or something else? Name brand please is you can

  15. Heidi says

    This is one of the BEST caesar salads I have had! This dressing is amazing! This is a new keeper for me! Thank you so much!

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