Serves 8 · Total time: 45 minutes* · Active time: 20 minutes
(*not including quinoa cooking time)

“Put some quinoa in it.” It’s almost become my motto. I mean, why not? Everything needs quinoa! Even Caesar Salad. This one really is a meal and it makes a ton because I love it as leftovers. It tastes great the day after and, honestly, still pretty darn good on day 3. But feel free to halve it if need be. I am in love with the dressing; it’s creamy, garlicky, briny and tangy and just the kind of stuff you want to stick your face in. The little bites of salty smokiness from the tempeh croutons bring everything together. I highly recommend using the simple make ahead notes for this one, otherwise it may be too much to pull together on a weeknight.

Recipe notes

* Make ahead: Make the quinoa a day in advance. Soak the cashews all day so that you can just come home and whip up the dressing. You can also marinade the tempeh all day, but if you do, reduce the soy sauce by 1 tablespoon.
* For the roasted garlic, you can either roast a head of it in advance or buy some. Often big fancy places like Whole Foods will have roasted garlic cloves for sale or you can even nab some from the salad bar.
* Variations: Use chickpeas instead of the tempeh. If you like, and you’re feeling rich and fancy, add some toasted pine nuts as well!

For the marinade:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
  • 2 teaspoons liquid smoke

For the rest:

  • 6 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 8 ounces chopped romaine
  • 4 ounces baby arugula (or chopped arugula)
  • 1 avocado, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 recipe Breaded Tofu (recipe follows)
  • 1 recipe Briny Caesar Dressing (recipe follows)

Mix together all marinade ingredients and marinate the tempeh for at least 30 minutes, giving everything a stir at least once.

To cook the tempeh, preheat a large heavy-bottomed pan, preferably cast iron, over medium high heat. Sauté the tempeh in 2 teaspoons olive oil for 10 minutes, until well browned. Add splashes of marinade a few times as you cook, so that it soaks up even more flavor.

Assemble the salad in a very large mixing bowl. Toss the greens with the quinoa and then add the dressing. Serve topped with tofu and avocado!

Breaded Tofu

  • 3/4 cup fine store-bought breadcrumbs (I use whole wheat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed between your fingers
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 14 ounces extra firm tofu, sliced into 8 slabs widthwise
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

Preheat a large nonstick pan, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. On a dinner plate, use your fingertips to mix together the breadcrumbs, dried herbs and garlic. On a separate plate, pour the soy sauce.

Place a tofu slab in the soy sauce and toss to coat. Then dredge it in the breadcrumbs, tossing to coat. (Use your dry hand to handle the tofu in the breadcrumbs, otherwise you’ll get a crumb mitten on your hand.) Put each coated tofu off to the side of the plate and continue until all tofu is coated. Put a thin layer of olive oil in the pan, and then transfer tofu slabs to the pan. Let cook for a few minutes then flip, using a thin metal spatula so that you don’t scrape off the breading. Cook for about 7 minutes total, adding a little extra oil to the pan as needed, and flipping occasionally until browned on most sides.

Once browned, remove from pan and slice on a bias into 1/4 thick pieces.

Briny Caesar Dressing

Makes 1 1/2 cups
If you don’t want to put together the entirety of the Quinoa Caesar Salad, you can use this as a base for the Caesar of your dreams.

  • 1/2 cup cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
  • 1 head roasted garlic (about 10 cloves, see note)
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/4 cup capers, with some brine
  • 3/4 cup water
  • Several dashes fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Simply add all of the ingredients to a small blender or food processor and purée until smooth. Scrape down the sides every now and again to make sure you get everything. Keep tightly sealed and refrigerated until ready to use. Keeps for up to 5 days.