If you were reading my twitter feed last night you may already have an idea of what I’m going to share today. I finished cooking and taking photos for this post right before the new X Files episode premiered. It took a bit longer than I thought it would –taking photos of your food as you cook does make it take twice as long to prepare– so for the first time in my life, I was actually happy that some football game was delaying The X Files.
The X Files revival, by the way, was amazing. It was camp, it was nostalgic, it was everything I remember loving about it when I was a teenager. I realized during the episode how much I’ve missed the characters, Scully and Mulder, even Skinner. I’m really excited for the monster-of-the-week episodes they’ve promised…
Whoops… my nerd was showing… On to the salad.
Vegan Chicken Grilled Cheese Caesar Salad is one of my favorite dinners. It’s perfect for a weeknight, it can be put together in under an hour, and it’s got a ton of delicious, nutritious greens.
Vegan Chicken Grilled Cheese Caesar Salad
This is a filling salad. There’s an entire grilled cheese sandwich on it, it ought to be filling. The grilled cheese replaces croutons and makes it something special. It’s also good with a bit of sliced avocado or chopped up cucumbers on top. This recipe will make more dressing than needed for the salad. Refrigerate the leftover dressing and use within a week.
Serves 2 as a meal, 4-6 as a side.
For the vegan Ceasar dressing
- juice of 2-3 lemons (about 1/2 cup, or a little less)
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 tsp Dijon or brown mustard
- 1 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce (Amy’s and the Whole Foods 365 brands are both vegan)
- 3/4 cup vegan mayo (Just Mayo is my favorite)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons vegan grated Parmesan OR nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- fresh, coarse ground, black pepper
For the rest of the salad
- 1 bunch of kale (your favorite kind)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
- 2 romaine hearts
- 1/2 package of tempeh bacon
- 1 package vegan chicken strips (Beyond Meat grilled faux chicken is great)
- 4 slices of whole wheat bread
- about 2/3 cups daiya cheddar shreds (or your favorite vegan cheese)
- vegan margarine
- Combine the lemon juice, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, mayo, salt, and vegan Parmesan (or nutriational yeast) in a blender jar. (You can either use a standard blender, high speed blender, or an immersion blender in a blending beaker.) Blend ingredients until well combined.
- With the blender running, stream in the olive oil. (You can just throw the olive oil in at the beginning if you are using a high speed blender.)
- Once combined, add several big grinds of pepper. Pulse several times to mix thoroughly.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Put in refrigerator until ready to toss with the salad.
- Remove stems from kale and chop leaves into bite sized pieces. Wash kale and dry as much as possible. A salad spinner works well.
- Place kale in a very large bowl. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch or two of salt. Using your hands, massage kale for 2 to 3 minutes by pressing it and squeezing it. Kale will turn a darker green color, soften, and reduce in volume. Set aside.
- Chop romaine hearts, wash, and dry them. Place them in the bowl on top of the kale, but do not mix yet.
- Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the tempeh bacon on both sides until browned.
- While bacon is cooking, begin making the grilled cheese sandwiches. In another large skillet over low to medium-low heat, melt 1-2 tablespoons of margarine. Place two slices of bread in the skillet. Top each with about 1/3 of a cup of daiya cheddar shreds.
- Spread margarine on remaining two slices of bread and place on top of the cheddar shreds, margarine side up. Cover skillet with a lid and allow to cook on first side for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove temeph bacon from skillet and allow to cool.
- In the same skillet, saute the chicken strips until browned.
- Once the first side of the grilled cheese is golden brown, remove the lid and flip the sandwiches to brown on the second side. Allow to brown for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Once tempeh bacon is cooled, chop into 1/2 inch pieces, set aside.
- Toss greens together. Add 1/3 to 1/2 of the dressing. Toss salad until greens are well coated in dressing, add more dressing if desired. (I use my hands for this, it works better than any utensils I own.)
- Remove grilled cheese sandwiches from the pan once they are grilled and cut into 1 to 1 1/2 inch squares, about 12 squares per sandwich.
- To plate (as a meal): Divide salad between two large dinner plates, top each plate with half the chicken strips, half bacon pieces, and 1 grilled cheese sandwich. Sprinkle with additional nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan if desired.