This outrageously satisfying broccoli bowl is Caesar salad dialed up to eleven, thanks to roasted broccoli and kale, golden croutons, white beans, and the best vegan Caesar dressing you've tried. What? Vegan? Yes! You gotta try it!
Is there anything Caesar dressing can't make better? Every vegetable benefits from the creamy drizzle and salty flavor of a good Caesar; but we think its punch especially suits cruciferous vegetables, like kale and roasted broccoli.
Here we marry those with the creamiest, dreamiest vegan Caesar dressing. The key? The vegan's best secret: cashew cream.
The Creamiest Vegan Caesar Dressing
Nut creams are ingenious. For those choosing a plant-based diet, they are the secret to a comforting, rich, and decadent sauce.
You can make cream from almost any nut, but my favorite is cashew cream. Cashews produce a lovely, buttery cream which can be used in place of cheese, cream, mayonnaise, and sour cream. I add cashew cream to soup, casseroles, gratins, and even macaroni cheese. Often I will add a dash of vanilla and a slick of maple syrup and eat it as you would yogurt.
Here it's the base of this luxurious Caesar dressing. It's so good I'm jealous of all of you making this tonight!
Broccoli and Kale Caesar Salad
For the croutons and salad:
4 ounces stale bread (about 1/2 medium baguette)
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large head broccoli (about 1 pound), cut into florets
6 small cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 medium bunch kale (about 12 ounces), stems removed and leaves coarsely torn
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup tightly packed fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds
For the dressing:
1 cup cashews, soaked in 1 cup of boiling water for 2 to 8 hours
3/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth or water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons capers
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper
Make the croutons and roast the broccoli: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 400°F.
Cut the bread into 1/2-inch pieces. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, and season with salt. Spread into an even layer. Bake, stirring halfway through, until evenly browned on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside to cool.
Place the broccoli florets and unpeeled garlic cloves on the same baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil, toss to combine, and spread into an even layer. Roast until the broccoli is just starting to turn golden-brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and set aside.
Make the dressing: Squeeze out the garlic from their skins into a high-powered blender. Drain the water from the cashews and add to the blender. Add the broth or water, oil, capers, and lemon juice. Blend on high speed until very smooth (if it is too thick, blend in a few more splashes of water). Taste and season well with salt and pepper; set aside.
Assemble the salad: Place the kale, remaining 1 tablespoon of oil, and a big pinch of salt in a large bowl. Massage with your hands to soften the leaves, then let sit for 5 minutes. Add the roasted broccoli, cannellini beans, croutons, and parsley and toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss to combine. Sprinkle with the sunflower seeds.
- Croutons: If you want to skip making the croutons from scratch, use good-quality store-bought croutons instead.
- Make ahead: The cashew Caesar cream can be made 2 days ahead refrigerated. The broccoli can be roasted 1 day ahead and refrigerated. The croutons can be made up to 7 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Storage: Leftovers can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 day.