Tahini caesar salad is a healthy, vegetarian take on a classic salad, with a tahini and lemon-based dressing and crunchy homemade breadcrumbs.
Do you love the lemony punch of tahini sauce and the crunchy deliciousness of a good homemade crouton? This tahini caesar salad is the one for you!
The dressing relies on naturally creamy tahini to bind it together — there’s no eggs or mayo in this version of the classic recipe (or anchovies for that matter). But it does include yogurt and cheese, so if you want to make this vegan-friendly just leave the dairy ingredients out and season a bit more with salt, lemon and cayenne.
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. Much like romaine, the crisp leaves hold up well to heavier dressings like this one.
To be honest, I snatch these 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 delicious and sweet — and they’re perfect to use in this salad.
I’m kind of obsessive about bread. When I order a caesar salad in a restaurant I usually pick off the croutons, unless I know the place pays extra-special attention to the details. I’ve worked in enough restaurant kitchens to know that stale, bland slices from the bread basket get recycled as croutons and tossed into the daily salad. No thanks.
But these crumbs are nothing like that. Start with a few slices from a fresh loaf of the best crusty bread you can find (or bake yourself), add some good olive oil and bake. You’ll be rewarded with toasty, crunchy, hard-to-stop-eating little nuggets.
You’ll have enough dressing to make this salad, plus a little leftover to use as a dip or a saucy somethin-somethin on the side.
tahini caesar salad with olive oil breadcrumbs
Yield 2 -4 servings; 1 cup dressing
To make the dressing vegan, omit the yogurt and cheese. Taste and season for additional salt.
Tahini Caesar Dressing:
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano or parmesan cheese, or a mixture, plus more for sprinkling on the salad
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 thick slices crusty sourdough bread, cut into cubes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin oil
- 2 or 3 heads Little Gem lettuce or hearts of romaine, washed and dried
- To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender or mini food processor until smooth. (Makes 1 cup).
- To make the salad, heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Spread the bread on a 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 crumble with your hands if you want stress relief).
- 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 the breadcrumbs and some grated cheese over the salad. Serve with additional dressing on the side.