Cherry Tomato Caesar Salad with Crispy Onions


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.

4.67 from 3 votes

Cherry Tomato Caesar Salad with Crispy Onions

Total Time 10 mins
  • 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.
4.67 from 3 votes
Tried this recipe?Mention @Kate_Cooks_ or tag #katecooks!
5 from 2 votes

Cashew Caesar Dressing

Servings 1 cup
Time does not include soaking cashews (requires 30 minutes) 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
  • 3/4 cup (82g) cashews
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard, * see notes
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, , or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • juice of 1 lemon, , ~1 to 1.25 ounces (2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon); closer to the higher amount-1.25 ounces- is better here!)
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) water
  • Place cashews in almost boiling water and let sit to soak for at least 30 minutes. This helps blend the cashews so they are super creamy!
  • Drain and rinse cashews. Place everything in a blender and blend until completely smooth. Store in airtight container in fridge for a week- the dressing will thicken up in the fridge but just add a bit of water to thin it out.
5 from 2 votes
Tried this recipe?Mention @Kate_Cooks_ or tag #katecooks!

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