Southwest Caesar Salad with Grilled Tempeh

Rude Awakening Morning Show Interview Tomorrow

Don’t forget, I’ll be on the radio Friday at 7:30 a.m. Eastern time, 98.1 FM Ocean City!  Even if you aren’t in the Ocean City area, you can listen to it or watch on the web.  See my previous post for more details.

A Veggie Twist on a Rachael Ray Classic

[southwest caesar photo]Back when we still ate white meat, Rachael Ray’s Tex-Mex Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad was one of our go-to meals.  It’s from 365: No Repeats, the book that started it all for me in the kitchen.  Literally, I would help myself to thirds and fourths of this salad, every single time!  The homemade parmesan croutons are irresistible, so clear your schedule for this one; you’ll be at the dinner table for a long time.

Needless to say, this is one of the meals that made me sad to think that I’d never get to eat it again once I went veggo.  That was, of course, until I discovered what a great chicken-substitute tempeh is (longtime readers might remember such NMA classics as Buffalo Tempeh Wraps).

Rachael’s salad actually took a little more tinkering than just swapping tempeh for the chicken to make it totally veggie friendly, since it also contains anchovies (most caesar salads do) and Worcestershire sauce (anchovies again).  But that wasn’t too big a deal; I substituted kalamata olives and a little salt to replicate the briny taste of anchovies, and used soy sauce and a splash of vinegar to replace the tangy Worcestershire.

And guess what, it turned out great!  I really ought to just wing it in the kitchen with substitutions more often.  Erin and I rated Southwest Tempeh Caesar another solid 4 cows out of 5.  Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed.   And for you  meat eaters, I’d be lying if I said the original doesn’t measure up to my veggie-version.  But for that recipe, you’ll have to pick up a copy of the book and contribute to Rachael’s empire.  I’d say just get out of your box and try a meatless meal tonight!

[southwest caesar close photo]

Southwest Caesar Salad with Grilled Tempeh Recipe

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 10 kalamata olives, pits removed and finely chopped
  • 1 lb tempeh (get it in health food stores or even well-stocked grocery stores)
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2-3/4 C canola oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, one cut in half, the others minced
  • half a small loaf of whole wheat bread, cut into cubes
  • large pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 limes
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • splash of red wine vinegar
  • a small handful of chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 romaine lettuce hearts, chopped (I added some Boston lettuce too)
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

First make the croutons: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Rub the inside of a large salad bowl with the halved garlic, then put the bowl aside.  Throw the halved garlic clove, along with the cubed bread, into another large bowl and drizzle a little less than half of the canola oil over it.  Add 1 Tbsp chili powder and half the parmesan cheese, and toss the bread to coat in the mixture.  Bake on a cookie sheet for about 10 minutes or until they’re as crisp as you like them (I like to leave the croutons just slightly soft in the center).

[homemade crouton photo]

While the croutons bake, prepare the dressing:  Add about 5 Tbsp of canola oil to a pan over low heat.  Add the chopped olives, the red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and the minced garlic.  After a few minutes, mash the olives into the pan with a wooden spoon to help them dissolve somewhat.  Let the dressing cook for about 5 minutes, then remove from heat.  Keep an eye on the garlic to make sure it doesn’t burn!

Preheat a grill on medium-high.  Add the rest of the chili powder, the cumin, 2 Tbsp canola oil, and a half teaspoon or so of salt to a shallow dish.  Mix together, cut the tempeh into three or four blocks, and coat in the mixture.  Place each block on the grill until heated through and slightly marked, about three minutes per side on my grill.  Cut into slices once it’s done.

Cut open and dice the avocado.

Get the salad bowl you set aside earlier and add to it the zest and juice of the limes (you may want to use slightly less juice and add more if needed at the end).  Add the mustard, soy sauce, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add the oil-olive mixture from the pan and whisk everything together.  Add the chopped romaine lettuce, then the croutons, avocado, grilled tempeh, and the rest of the parmesan cheese.  Toss everything together and serve.



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  1. Very cool. Good luck!
    .-= diana´s last blog ..Rundown =-.

  2. Whoa Worcestershire has anchovies? What part of ceaser salads have anchovies? I had no idea. Definitely going to have to try the salad though.
    .-= Caleb´s last blog ..Yummy dehydrated mangoes – delicious =-.

    • The Worcestershire I looked at has anchovies. I know there are some vegetarian and vegan versions you can buy, but I’m not sure where.

      Most real Caesar dressings (like in a restaurant, not from a bottle) are made with anchovies that get dissolved in the oil.

  3. Yes, I buy veg-friendly Worcestershire at Whole Foods! That salad looks fab!
    .-= Rhoni´s last blog ..Good and Bad News Weekend =-.

  4. A-hah! That is a caesar salad that I could devour 🙂 YUM YUM YUM! I think I could make a meal out of those croutons alone. Thanks for the recipe. I’ll have to try that dressing for sure.
    .-= amy (veganissexy)´s last blog ..CLEANING OUT MY CLOSET =-.

  5. So cool that you’re going to be on the radio tomorrow! I wish I was going to be near a computer so I could listen 🙁 We’ll be in the car- traveling!

    This salad looks incredible, I still haven’t tried tempeh but I really really want to!
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Shrimp, Granolas, Tina’s PB Bars =-.

  6. Good luck with the radio show! I must admit – watching Rachael Ray on the Food network is what really got me interested in cooking…
    .-= Megan (The Runner’s Kitchen)´s last blog ..Healthy Salads =-.

  7. With avocado – Yum !
    I use “Natural Selections” Worcestershire Sauce.

  8. Colleen says:

    Nice job on the radio show:) I think you did great!

  9. I LOVE tempeh…this looks delicious! 😀
    .-= Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)´s last blog ..The Return of the Banana =-.

  10. Looks fantastic! I’m not a fan of anchovies so whenever I make Caesar salad (a healthed-up recipe, of course ;)), I don’t use them.

    Never tried tempeh before- will keep it in mind!
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Is it healthier to sit on the couch or to ride a bike? =-.

  11. I’m going to have to try this! I never thought to add tempeh to Caesar salad, and though I love olives, they never end up in my classic vegetarian caesar either. I usually always make the same recipe, but like I said, I must try this. Thanks for sharing this one!
    .-= Lisa´s last blog ..Three-Bean Salad with Fennel =-.

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