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Recipe of the week: Vegan Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons

Addie Broyles
abroyles@statesman.com

Caesar dressing with curry? Even Myra Goodman, the founder of Earthbound Farm in California, thought her daughter Marea was crazy when she started making Caesar salads with a few out-of-the-ordinary ingredients.

The women were working on their first cookbook together, “Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone” (Chronicle Books, $27.50), when they both realized that the process would be a lesson in both compromise and keeping an open mind.

The resulting book is a refreshing blend of Myra’s traditional ways to use organic produce (curried yellow split pea soup, basic vegetable stock) and Marea’s internationally influenced culinary style (Thai spring rolls, butternut squash tamales), which was also shaped by a stint cooking vegan meals for 60 at a co-op in Berkeley.

Eccentric Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons

For the dressing:

1/2 cup raw cashews

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

3 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (not baker’s or brewer’s yeast)

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 large garlic clove

3/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. curry powder

Freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

2 large heads romaine lettuce, chopped or torn into bite-size pieces

1 ripe avocado, medium dice

1/2 cup hemp seeds

1/3 cup capers

For garlic croutons:

9 to 12 (1/2-inch) slices of a large baguette

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/4 tsp. crushed garlic

Pinch of salt

To make the dressing: Combine the cashews, oil, lemon juice, yeast, mustard, garlic, salt, curry powder and pepper in a food processor and add 1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp. warm water. Process until the mixture is very smooth, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice.

To make the salad: Toss the romaine with 1/2 cup of the dressing. Add more to taste if desired. Divide the lettuce among six plates, and top each with some of the croutons, avocado, hemp seeds, and capers. Serve immediately.

To make the croutons: Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Toast the baguette slices very lightly in a traditional toaster or toaster oven. Allow to cool.

Mix the oil, garlic, and salt together in a small bowl. With a pastry brush, brush both sides of the toast with this mixture, and then cut the slices into cubes. Transfer the cubes to a rimmed baking sheet and bake until they are golden brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes, turning once. Allow to cool completely before using. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Serves 6.

— From “Straight from the Earth: Irresistible Vegan Recipes for Everyone” by Myra Goodman and Marea Goodman (Chronicle Books, $27.50)