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Soups & Salads

Grilled, Plant-Based Caesar

This healthy twist on the classic Caesar salad is so good, you won’t believe it’s vegan.

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If you’re having vegans over for dinner and thinking about foods you shouldn’t serve, a Caesar salad probably wouldn’t be on the list. But this salad is frequently served with shrimp and anchovies, both of which wouldn’t be welcome on the vegan dinner plate.

Our version eliminates both of those—as well as the nonvegan Parmesan cheese and dairy-based Caesar dressing—and actually produces a salad closer to the spirit of the original, which was created (and named after) an Italian immigrant restaurateur by the name of Caesar Cardini.

Necessity really was the mother of invention in Cardini’s case. His restaurant (aptly named “Caesar’s”) ran short of salad fixings during a Fourth of July rush back in the ’20s, so he threw together a pot luck house mix—starting with Romaine, garlic, and spices, then adding in whatever he happened to have on hand. And while the original recipe didn’t include anchovies, the Parmesan cheese and Worcestershire sauce made it less than vegan friendly.

This brings us back around to Chef Jeannette’s truly vegan version of this now-classic salad. It may not make you forget the original—but it will make you fall in love with a new way to eat it! —Dr. Jonny

Featured Ingredient

Macadamia Nuts

Photo: Adobe Stock

The macadamia nut was the favorite nut of iconic diet guru Dr. Robert Atkins. How do I know that? Because the one time I met him in his office, he was giving an interview to a magazine called Health Revelations, and he told them he considered the macadamia a meal in itself. He also said he simply would not board an airplane without them.

Now Atkins was known for sometimes being hyperbolic, and I certainly wouldn’t consider macadamia nuts a complete meal. But I would agree they’re one of the all-time great snacks.

Macs are a wonderful source of monounsaturated fat, the type of fat found in olive oil, one of the healthiest foods on the planet. The main monounsaturated fatty acid in olive oil is called oleic acid, and it’s great for you. It’s heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory. Oleic acid is also the predominant monounsaturated fat in macadamia nuts.

But unlike olive oil, macs also have a nice amount of palmitoleic acid, another onounsaturated fat that has significant health benefits, including improving insulin resistance. Also known as omega-7, palmitoleic acid was found to lower both inflammation and triglycerides in a study performed at the Cleveland Clinic. A good rule of thumb—any food that helps lower inflammation is good for you!

In addition to healthy fats, macs are good sources of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium (for strong bones and teeth); heart-healthy potassium; and a couple of grams of fiber per ounce. They also contain a small amount of selenium, a trace mineral with significant antioxidant and immune-supporting properties. Plus, they contain phytosterols, including beta-sitosterol, which has been shown to help promote prostate health, possibly by its anti-inflammatory activity.

Remember, though, don’t go through a whole family-sized bag at a time! Macadamia nuts are very high in calories—about 204 per ounce—so if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t just start mindlessly munching on them. Instead, use macadamias as ingredients in recipes, include a few in a mixed nuts sampler, or eat a few here and there during the week. They’re one of the most expensive nuts out there, so limiting them to reasonable amounts shouldn’t be too hard!

Notes from the Clean Food Coach:

Photo: Adobe Stock

When working with fresh produce in raw recipes, always be prepared to adjust flavors to taste. Dates vary in freshness and size, for example. So the “2 soft Medjool dates” won’t always produce the same result.

You can adjust the sweetness of this dressing to your liking by adding dates or boosting with a tiny bit of good liquid stevia for less sugar. The best dates for this recipe are soft, fresh Medjools, but any pitted date will work. If your dates aren’t soft, soak in warm water for 10 minutes before blending. Using the soak water for the water in the recipe will increase the sweetness even further. 



  • 1/3 cup unsalted macadamia nuts (raw or roasted)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts (raw)
  • ¼ cup water
  • Juice of 2 lemons + zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 soft Medjool dates, pitted
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp. nutritional yeast
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 2–3 drops liquid stevia, optional
  • 4 Romaine lettuce hearts


  1. Preheat grill to high. Combine all dressing ingredients from macadamia nuts through stevia drops, if using, in high-speed blender, and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Set aside to allow flavors to meld.
  2. Slice each Romaine heart neatly in half, lengthwise. When grill is hot, oil it lightly with neutral, heat-stable cooking oil. Place prepared Romaine hearts, cut-sides-down, on grill, and cook until cut sides have begun to lightly brown, about 2 minutes.
  3. Transfer grilled hearts to platter or individual plates, cut-side-up, and drizzle generously with dressing to serve. Any extra dressing will keep in refrigerator, covered, for several days.

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 290
  • Carbohydrate Content 35 g
  • Cholesterol Content 0 mg
  • Fat Content 16 g
  • Fiber Content 16 g
  • Protein Content 10 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 2 g
  • Sodium Content 55 mg
  • Sugar Content 17 g