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Tahini Caesar Salad with Olive Oil Breadcrumbs

4.81 from 42 community reviews

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This tahini Caesar salad is a healthful vegetarian take on the classic salad. Instead of a classic Caesar salad with dressing, this crisp, refreshing salad has a tahini and lemon-based dressing and crunchy homemade breadcrumbs.

Romaine lettuce leaves on a white platter with creamy tahini Caesar salad dressing, olive oil breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.

Do you love the lemony tang of tahini sauce and the delicious crunchy texture of a good homemade crouton?

This tahini caesar salad is for you!

The dressing relies on naturally creamy tahini to bind it together — there’s no eggs, mayo or anchovies in this vegetarian remake of the classic caesar dressing.

Ingredients you need

  • Tahini
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Plain yogurt: Dairy or plant-based
  • Grated fresh Pecorino Romano and/or Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and cayenne pepper
  • Crusty sourdough bread (2 slices)
  • Romaine lettuce

Little Gem is a type of lettuce that looks like a baby head of romaine, with beautiful crinkled green leaves and a small, tender core of paler green inner leaves.

This lettuce is a lot like romaine, and its crisp, sturdy leaves hold up well to weightier dressings like this creamy tahini-based one.

Romaine lettuce leaves in a wooden salad bowl with creamy tahini Caesar salad dressing, olive oil breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.

To be honest, when I’m not craving a my usual kale salad, I snatch up Little Gem lettuces up when I see them in the market because they can be hard to find  (you might have the same problem).

Luckily, romaine hearts are just as delicious and sweet — they’re interchangeable to use in this salad.

Vegan tahini caesar dressing

The dressing includes yogurt and cheese. But if you want to make this vegan-friendly you have some choices.

  • First, you can just omit the dairy ingredients and season with a bit more salt, lemon and cayenne pepper.
  • Or substitute a plain, unsweetened plant-based yogurt in the dressing and use nutritional yeast instead of the grated cheese.

The tangy dressing is terrific on kale too, so mix it up if you’re into it! It will keep in the refrigerator up to a week so you can whip up the salad in minutes when you’re hungry.

Breadcrumbs on salad (instead of croutons)

So now let’s talk about breadcrumbs.

When I order a Caesar salad in a restaurant I usually pick off the croutons, unless I know it’s the kind of place that pays extra-special attention to details. I’m kind of obsessive about bread.

I’ve worked in enough restaurant kitchens to know that stale slices from the bread basket often get recycled into croutons and tossed into the daily salad.

No thanks — I’ll pass on that!

Romaine lettuce leaves on a white platter with creamy tahini Caesar salad dressing, olive oil breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese.

But these crumbs are nothing like that.

  • Start with a few slices from a loaf of the best crusty bread you can find, add some good olive oil, bake and grind into crumbs. You’ll be rewarded with toasty, crunchy, hard-to-stop-eating little nuggets to sprinkle over the salad.

Yield: You’ll have enough dressing to make this salad, plus a little leftover to use as a dip for vegetables, chips just to use as a saucy dip on the side.

Tahini Caesar Salad with Olive Oil Breadcrumbs

Karen Tedesco
Tahini caesar salad is a healthy vegetarian version of a classic caesar salad, with a tahini and lemon-based dressing and crunchy homemade breadcrumbs.To make the dressing vegan, omit the yogurt and cheese. 
Print Pin
4.81 from 42 community reviews
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

Tahini Caesar Dressing:

  • ¼ cup (60 ml) tahini
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (15 g) plain yogurt or plant-based yogurt
  • ½ cup (50 g) grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (or a mixture of both), divided
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) cold water
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salad

  • 2 thick slices crusty sourdough bread, cut into cubes (2 heaping cups)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin oil
  • 12 ounces (350 g) 2 or 3 heads Little Gem lettuce or hearts of romaine, washed and dried

Instructions 

Make the dressing

  • Combine the tahni, lemon juice, garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, yogurt, 1/4 cheese, water, salt and cayenne pepper in a blender or mini food processor until smooth. (Makes about 1 cup).

Make the breadcrumbs

  • Preheat the oven to 375 (190 C) degrees. Spread the bread on a small baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss until evenly coated. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bread is brown and crisp. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop the cubes on a cutting board or in a food processor to make pea-sized crumbs (or feel free to crumble with your hands if you want stress relief).

Assemble the salad

  • Pull the green leaves off the lettuce and cut the inner core into wedges. If using romaine hearts, separate the leaves and tear into large bite-size pieces. Keep the inner core intact and cut into small wedges.
  • Put the lettuce in a bowl or serving platter and toss with about 1/3 of the dressing. Sprinkle half the breadcrumbs and the remaining grated cheese over the salad. Serve with additional dressing and breadcrumbs on the side.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • To make a vegan salad, substitute a plant-based yogurt (such as coconut or cashew) for the dairy yogurt and an equal amount of nutritional yeast for the cheese.
  • Extra dressing will keep up to a week refrigerated.

Nutrition

Serving: 1g | Calories: 1000kcal | Carbohydrates: 136g | Protein: 35g | Fat: 37g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 618mg | Potassium: 595mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 7512IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 288mg | Iron: 10mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Search @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Pinterest

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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9 Comments

  1. Can you recommend a vegetarian friendly Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese? I have found most of these are made with rennet which does not make them vegetarian friendly.

    1. Hi Tiffany – Thanks for such a great question! The good news is that you can find Parmesan made with vegetable rennet. The brands I recommend are Whole Foods 365, Sartori, Stella, Belgioso and Good and Gather by Target. As for Pecorino Romano, if the cheese is made in Italy it will NOT be vegetarian friendly. Instead, look for brands made in the U.S., where it is called “Romano”. I think Stella is widely available.

  2. 5 stars
    I love this caesar dressing and make it at least once a month. For the salad, I typically do half romaine, half lacinato kale, then add roasted chickpeas, avocado, and vegan “chicken” to make it a full meal. So glad I found this recipe!

  3. 5 stars
    I served this as an appetizer and everyone loved it. It’s a new favorite.

  4. 5 stars
    made this for a memorial day bbq and it was so tasty! we did the vegan version with dairy free sour cream instead of yogurt. Soo easy and delicious, highly recommend!

  5. Delicious! An easy and addictive recipe that I wish I had saved but ended up eating it all! I will definitely be making it again.

  6. 5 stars
    I love this version of a caesar! I can’t wait to try it (I think we had something similar at Jenn Louis’ restaurant, Ray, last week — 2 great chefs with similar ideas!).

    XO
    L