Vegan Chicken Grilled Cheese Caesar Salad

Caesar Header-1

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.

Ingredients:

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

Method:

Dressing
  1. 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.
  2. 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.)
  3. Once combined, add several big grinds of pepper. Pulse several times to mix thoroughly.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. Put in refrigerator until ready to toss with the salad.
Salad
  1. Remove stems from kale and chop leaves into bite sized pieces. Wash kale and dry as much as possible. A salad spinner works well.
  2. 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.
  3. Chop romaine hearts, wash, and dry them. Place them in the bowl on top of the kale, but do not mix yet.

     

  4. Heat the tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the tempeh bacon on both sides until browned.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Remove temeph bacon from skillet and allow to cool.
  8. In the same skillet, saute the chicken strips until browned.
  9. 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.
  10. Once tempeh bacon is cooled, chop into 1/2 inch pieces, set aside.
  11. 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.)
  12. 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.
  13. 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.

 

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