This festive vegan caesar salad is a crowd-pleaser that’s brimming with flavor and eye appeal. Chopped romaine and lacinato kale get tossed in a rich and creamy cashew caesar dressing. The salad is then topped with oodles of pepita parmesan, roasted delicata squash, and pomegranate seeds. This dish makes an ideal holiday side dish or first course!
The holidays are filled with opportunities to spread joy.
Joy that can be shared through acts of kindness or service, through gift-giving, through home-cooked holiday meals, and so on.
One of my favorite ways to spread the joy is by sharing homemade meals with loved ones. Cooking calms my mind and keeps me centered in the present moment—two very welcomed byproducts during the seemingly nonstop hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
Beyond my general love for the process of cooking itself, I find few things more satisfying than investing time to mindfully prepare a dish and then bear witness to its receipt by family and friends. This is especially true with plant-based dishes, because they tend to catch wary tasters off-guard in the best of ways.
Wait, are you SURE this is vegan? So you’re telling me this parmesan cheese is made out of nuts and seeds?!
Those reactions warm the heart and satisfy the soul. And they’re precisely the type I strive for when I’m creating recipes.
It’s my goal to share close-to-the-earth recipes that satisfy and delight everyone. And to prove that this way of eating isn’t about deprivation or what’s missing, it’s about abundance and what’s added to our lives when we take time to nourish, honor, and care for our bodies.
This festive vegan caesar salad is designed to please a crowd with wide-ranging tastes and preferences.
Crispy romaine and chopped lacinato kale are tossed in creamy cashew caesar dressing and garlicky pepita parmesan. The salad base is topped with roasted delicata squash (or sweet potatoes or butternut squash) and then finished with a generous sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.
The combination of zesty caesar dressing, salty seeded parmesan, tender and sweet delicata squash, and juicy pomegranate seeds yields a salad that’s both crave-worthy and eye-catching.
The ruby red jewel tones of the pomegranate seeds pop against the fresh landscape of green hues created by the lettuces, yielding a salad that’s just as festive as the holiday season it was designed for.
To make this holiday vegan salad, you’ll start by roasting the delicata squash. Simply cut the squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and then slice each half into thin crescents.
Transfer the sliced squash to a lined baking pan, toss with a bit of olive oil, and roast for 20 minutes, or until the squash is tender and beginning to caramelize.
Meanwhile, prepare the romaine and kale and add them to a large serving bowl or platter.
Then, make the vegan pepita parmesan. Add raw pepitas, nutritional yeast, garlic, and a bit of sea salt to a small food processor, and process until the mixture is ground into a texture that resembles grated parmesan.
Finally, prepare the vegan cashew caesar dressing.
To a blender, add soaked raw cashews, water, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, garlic, capers, dijon mustard, sea salt, and black pepper. Then, blend on high until super smooth and creamy.
I learned the trick of adding capers to caesar dressing from the lovely Angela of Oh She Glows. They add a brininess that’s reminiscent of the one that anchovies lend to traditional, non-vegan versions of the beloved dressing. Don’t skip them—they offer that extra-special zing and depth of flavor.
Once all the salad elements have been prepared, it’s time to assemble.
Pour as much of the dressing over the greens as desired and toss to coat (I recommend starting with about half the dressing recipe and then adding to taste from there).
Then, sprinkle on the pepita parmesan and toss again.
Finally, top with the roasted delicata squash and pomegranate seeds, and serve immediately.
This recipe makes enough to serve about 8 people as a small side salad, about 6 people for a salad course, or about 4 people for a light main dish.
Festive Vegan Caesar Salad
This festive vegan caesar salad is a crowd-pleaser that's brimming with flavor and eye appeal. Chopped romaine and lacinato kale get tossed in a rich and creamy cashew caesar dressing. The salad is then topped with oodles of pepita parmesan, roasted delicata squash, and pomegranate seeds. This dish makes an ideal holiday side dish or first course!
Festive Vegan Caesar Salad
- 1 large delicata squash, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced into half-moon shapes*
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large head romaine lettuce (about 7 ounces), thoroughly washed, patted dry, and chopped
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, thoroughly washed, patted dry, stemmed, and chopped
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups pomegranate seeds (seeds from about 1 large pomegranate)
Vegan Pepita Parmesan
- 1/3 cup raw pepitas**
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon + 1/8 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
Vegan Cashew Caesar Dressing
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours before blending***
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 2 teaspoon capers (drained)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Festive Caesar Salad
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
- Add the delicata squash to the pan, drizzle with the olive oil, and toss to coat. Spread the squash into an even layer in the pan. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until tender (but not mushy) and beginning to caramelize.
- Meanwhile, prepare the other salad elements.
Add the romaine and kale to a large serving bowl or platter.
- Set the pomegranate seeds and roasted delicata squash aside for the time being.
For the Vegan Pepita Parmesan
Add all ingredients to a small food processor and pulse until ground ground into a texture that resembles grated parmesan cheese.
For the Vegan Cashew Caesar Dressing
- Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender, and blend on high for 3 minutes, or until super smooth and creamy.
- Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more sea salt and black pepper to taste.
- To Assemble
Drizzle the greens with as much of the dressing as desired (I recommend starting with about half and adding to taste from there), and toss to thoroughly coat.
Sprinkle on the parmesan and toss again.
- Top with the pomegranate seeds and delicata squash.
- Serve immediately.
*If you can't find delicata squash, substitute a large sweet potato (peeled and cubed) or small butternut squash (peeled, halved, seeded, and cubed). **Or use 1/3 cup raw cashews. ***To keep this recipe nut-free, swap out the cashews for shelled hemp seeds.