A Caesar-ish salad so decadent you won’t believe it’s vegan

One of my absolute favorite ingredients is tahini. It is magnificent no matter what it’s added to, from hummus to desserts to savory, rich sauces — and even dressings or vinaigrettes, as shown here. 

A Middle Eastern condiment comprised of nothing but ground sesame, it is exceptionally smooth, thick and flavorful, with an oddly beguiling flavor that is somehow simultaneously both subtle and robust.

In recent years, tahini has made a home in many “vegan Caesars.” I am hesitant to label this recipe a “vegan Caesar” because it technically is not. There is, obviously, no egg, no cheese, no croutons, no anchovy, so by definition, it is indeed not a Caesar.

It does, however, impart some of the same flavor, texture and consistency notes that you might get from a classic Caesar, but without any of the dairy, sugar or gluten/wheat (I do include walnuts and cashews, but feel to remove those, too, to also make it nut-free. You could also add grilled chicken or grated parm. to defeat the entire purpose of the vegan aspect — it’s all up to you! It’ll be delicious regardless).

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This is one of those recipes that might sound a little wonky (aquafaba? nutritional yeast? maple syrup?), but I promise the end result is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Romaine and endive salad with a Caesar-ish, vegan tahini dressing


04 servings

Prep Time

25 minutes


For dressing:

2 tablespoons aquafaba (the thick liquid from the top of a can of chickpeas)

Handful of cashews

3 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 cup tahini

3 to 4 lemons, juiced and zested

1 tablespoon malt or rice vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire

1 teaspoon maple syrup, optional

1 to 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons imitation heavy cream (Califia has an amazing one) 

Onion powder, to taste

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For salad:

1 large bag romaine lettuce, cored removed, sliced in large, slightly-bigger-than-bite-size pieces (I also love Little Gems here)

2 to 3 endive, sliced about the same size as the lettuce

Fried shallots, divided

Fried chickpeas, divided 

Dried chives

Toasted sesame seeds

Toasted, chopped walnuts, optional 


  1. In the base of a blender of VitaMix or VitaPrep, add aquafaba, cashews, garlic and tahini. Blend well until smooth and rich. 
  2. Add lemon zest and juice, vinegar, Dijon, Worcestershire, maple (if using) and blend again. 
  3. Add nutritional yeast, non-dairy heavy cream, onion powder, salt and pepper. Blend one more time, taste and adjust for seasoning.
  4. In an especially large bowl, combine lettuce, endive, chives, sesame seeds, and half of each of the shallots and chickpeas. Toss with a few tablespoons of the dressing, top with the remaining shallots and chickpeas, and finish with walnuts, if using.

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