Vegan Caesar salad for a substantial serving of greens on Meatless Monday

No one's saying you have to go meatless just because it's Monday -- but as incentive to join the growing movement, every week we're offering an animal-free recipe.

Caesar salad is a popular way to get your fix of leafy greens, and no wonder: The roughage is deliciously crisp, creamy, garlicky and briny. Unfortunately for vegetarians and vegans, that brine comes from anchovies more often than not -- so here's a version that'll make a decent dinner for three or four hungry adults that requires no heating of ingredients whatsoever. (No dairy, either!)

You will need:

2-3 large (or 3-4 small) heads romaine lettuce 2 cups spring mix (optional; we like a little variety in our salad) Heaping 1/3 cup almonds 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed 3/4 pound (12 oz.) soft silken tofu 1/4 cup olive oil 1 lemon 1 heaping tablespoon capers 4 teaspoons caper brine 1 teaspoon sugar 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder Sea salt Fresh-cracked black pepper Croutons or baked sugar snap peas

You can make your own croutons with stale bread, olive oil and roasted garlic, but in the interests of not turning the oven on, we went with the baked snap peas instead for a healthy dose of crunch.

1. Chop the almonds into crumbs in a small food processor.

Place the chopped almonds in an airtight container (four-cup capacity or so) to store the dressing.

2. Put the garlic (peeled and crushed), the tofu and the olive oil in the food processor.

Mix until creamy.

Add the capers, the juice from the lemon, the caper brine, the sugar, the mustard powder and a few dashes of sea salt.

Process until thoroughly blended.

Scrape the dressing into the airtight container and mix in with the chopped almonds already in the container. Seal and chill in the refrigerator for thirty minutes minimum (an hour to ninety minutes is perfect if you can wait that long).

3. When you're ready to eat, wash the romaine lettuce heads (wash from the top and fan the lettuce leaves open as you do to thoroughly rinse the heads) and chop off the bottoms.

Chop the heads widthwise into strips, which will give you perfect strips of romaine.

Use a large bowl to mix the salad with the dressing; measure about three cups of chopped romaine and add a handful of spring mix into the bowl for each person.

Add dressing to each diner's taste.

Toss until the salad is thoroughly coated.

Divide salads equally on plates and top with croutons or baked snap peas -- anything that'll add a little crunch.

If you feel like firing up the grill, this salad goes beautifully with grilled tofu, but it's a satisfying main dish or side dish without it, too!

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Amber Taufen has been writing about people, places and things in Denver since 2005. She works as an editor, writer, and production and process guru out of her home office in the foothills.
Contact: Amber Taufen