Ever since making my Summer Kale Caesar Salad with Corn & Tomato, I’ve been playing around with new flavors and twists on the classic Caesar Salad. Yes, you have to be a little careful. Caesar dressing has a strong flavor and doesn’t go with everything. But it goes with a lot more than we think. This Cherry Tomato Caesar Salad with Crispy Onions is the perfect stepping stone to expand your idea of what a caesar salad can be. By adding two crowd-pleasing ingredients to the traditional mix, it straddles the boundaries between familiar and new and is perfect as a side for weeknight meals or larger gatherings.
This Cherry Tomato Caesar Salad with Crispy Onions comes together within minutes. I like to cut the tomatoes in half, but you could even keep them in whole if making this in a rush or on a bigger scale. The crispy fried onions require literally no prep. You can make the caesar dressing ahead of time, up to a week or so in advance.
Keep it Dairy-Free or Not: Cherry Tomato Caesar Salad with Crispy Onions
While I’ve kept it to just tomatoes and fried onions to keep it dairy-free for this specific recipe, occasionally I’ll add in freshly shaved parmesan as well. I’m a sucker for parmesan so I’m probably biased, but it’s just SO good.
Cashew Caesar Dressing: A Must Try
Okay this Cherry Tomato Caesar Salad with Crispy Onions is really all about this cashew caesar dressing. Could you use a store-bought? Yes, but I never do. This dressing is so easy and completely worth taking a bit of time to make. The excerpt below is from the original post where I debuted this dressing (Summer Kale Caesar Salad with Corn & Tomato).
I’ve tried a lot of “alternative” caesar salad dressings. Like a lot. And to be honest, most of them just don’t taste like a caesar dressing. Many recipes use tahini to make it vegan, but tahini’s flavor is too powerful and strong to mimic the traditional flavor.
Then I tried this dressing by Becky Hughes at NYT Cooking. I was blown away. It ACTUALLY tasted like caesar salad. Cashews take the place of tahini here by adding a creamy body to the dressing. I use cashews a lot in other recipes for a similar function. so I knew it’d work. I was a bit more skeptical about the other ingredients, like caper brine, nutritional yeast, & nori. Then I realized that these were the key to that briny, salty flavor that we see in the classic.
The recipe below is adapted from the NYT Cooking one with a few changes. I simplified the dressing down a bit to use ingredients I normally have in my pantry already and then the bigger change was eliminating nutritional yeast. From my experience, people either love or hate it. And I have a lot of family members who hate it. While it adds “cheesiness”, it can be overpowering. Eliminating meant that other ingredients had to get a bit of oomph, so I increased the amount of miso in particular.
Caesar dressing packs a punch and this one is no different. Key ingredients like dijon mustard, white miso, lemon & garlic are the flavor bombs that tie everything together. Caper brine adds a salty dimension and is great if you have it, but I’ll be honest- I’m not a caper fan so I don’t normally have this on hand. I often make the recipe without it and it’s still delicious.
Cherry Tomato Caesar Salad with Crispy Onions
- 5-6 cups romaine lettuce
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes or baby heirloom tomatoes, cut in half
- 1/4 cup crispy fried onions
- cashew caesar dressing, recipe below
- Make cashew caesar dressing (requires a few hours for cashews to soak so plan in advance).
- Place romaine lettuce in large serving bowl. Drizzle in some of the dressing and toss. Add in tomatoes, fried onions, and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a bit more dressing and serve.If doing this ahead of time or for a group, I like to store this in the fridge and only add the last bit of dressing right as I'm about to serve. Temperature- specifically making this super cold- makes a big difference.