My name is Ashley McLaughlin and this is my blog, Edible Perspective. To learn more about my journey head on over to my about + FAQ pages. I'm thrilled that you stopped by. Enjoy!

 

 


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Tuesday
Apr232013

Vegan Caesar Lettuce Wraps // with quinoa, kale, + tofu

This recipe has been a long time coming.  It’s a recreation of a meal I’ve had half-a-dozen times at a local restaurant, Tasty Harmony.  Tied for my second favorite restaurant in town.  The entire menu is vegetarian friendly, mostly vegan, and also features numerous gluten-free options.  All of the food is extremely fresh, organic, local when possible, etc.  If you’re ever in the area it’s worth checking out.  Order the nachos.  Trust me.

Vegan Caesar Lettuce Wraps // edible perspective

So anyway.  They have a killer vegan caesar dressing that I have yet to fully perfect but eat every single time I’m there.  It’s quite lemony and holds a nice salty-sea type flavor, obviously without the use of anchovies.  I’m thinking they use tofu as the base but for some reason I haven’t asked.  I think I’m too busy inhaling this wrap and then completely forget by the time I polish off my plate. 

I should seriously have a photo of the monstrosity that is this meal.  You’d think I would…

Basically, it’s HUGE.  All of their meals are plentiful.

Vegan Caesar Lettuce Wraps // edible perspective

A brand new discovery: Cast iron skillets are fantastic for crisping tofu!  It took all of 7 minutes to brown the tofu on all sides.  WHY have I not tried this before?  WHYYYY?  And if you keep a well-seasoned pan you barely have to add any oil.  If you have yet to purchase a cast iron skillet I highly recommend it. They cost about $16 [for a 10-inch] and you can use it for nearly everything!  One of my favorite uses is for making cornbread.  

Vegan Caesar Lettuce Wraps // edible perspective

Tasty Harmony serves this wrap on a whole wheat tortilla.  However, they’ll always switch that up and pack it into 2 collard leaves for me, which I absolutely love.  Collard greens make a great, sturdy wrap and the flavor is surprisingly mild.

Today I decided to use butter lettuce for an even milder flavor and for easy packing + wrapping.  Really, you don’t have to wrap it at all.  Just pile it in, loosely fold the sides, then chow down like you’re eating a taco.

Vegan Caesar Lettuce Wraps // edible perspective

This recipe is a bit on the messy side but so worth it.  A definite dinner contender and perfect for lunches throughout the week.  The quinoa, kale, and tofu mixture holds up really well with the dressing.  Just pack a tortilla, whole green leaves, or chopped greens [to eat as salad] for work and you’ll be good to go.

Or, you can definitely eat this mixture all on its own!

Vegan Caesar Lettuce Wraps // edible perspective

You’ll really want to load up on the dressing here, as the quinoa soaks it in.  You could also spread extra on your wrap or greens before adding the mixture. 

Delicious hot or cold, whichever you prefer.

Vegan Caesar Lettuce Wraps // edible perspective

Print this!

Vegan Caesar Lettuce Wraps gluten-free, vegan // serves 3-4 hearty portions

  • 1 batch vegan caesar dressing
  • 1, 14oz package non-GMO extra firm tofu
  • 1 head lacinato/dinosaur kale
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa, lightly packed
  • 2-3 teaspoons safflower/sunflower oil
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • salt + pepper
  1. Slice tofu in 1/2-inch thick slabs and spread in a single layer in between two, doubled-over kitchen towels.  Place a large cutting board overtop and stack a few books on top to press out the liquid for 20-30 minutes. *Tofu pressing details.
  2. De-stem the kale, stack the leaves and chop into thin ribbons.  Measure 3-4 cups and place in a mixing bowl with the cooked and chilled quinoa.
  3. After pressing the tofu, preheat a 10-inch cast iron skillet over med-high heat with about 2 teaspoons of oil.
  4. Cube the tofu into 1/2-inch pieces and place in the skillet once hot.  Season lightly with salt + pepper.
  5. Let brown for about 2-3 minutes and then toss a few times until browned on all sides.  About 7-10 minutes total or longer if desired.
  6. Once the tofu is done, let fully cool then place in the bowl of quinoa and kale. 
  7. Add desired amount of dressing and toss together until well-coated.  Add salt + pepper as desired and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.  Add the avocado and sun-dried tomatoes and toss with more dressing as it will have absorbed some in the fridge. 
  8. Place in a lettuce or tortilla and serve with extra dressing on the side.

notes/substitutions:  If wanting to serve this warm/hot, add the quinoa and kale mixture to the skillet over med-low heat after browning the tofu.  Toss with the caesar dressing, avocado, and sun-dried tomatoes until hot.  Add more dressing as needed.  I used about 3/4 of the dressing recipe when making this.  Feel free to sub chickpeas or cubed tempeh instead of tofu if desired.  Fresh tomatoes are also a great addition in the wrap.  Romaine lettuce can be subbed the kale if desired.

Vegan Caesar Dressing gluten-free, vegan // yields ~1 1/4 cup

adapted slightly from: vegan asparagus caesar salad

*I lightened this recipe from my original by using chickpeas and cashews, instead of only cashews.  Feel free to use 1/2 cup cashews instead of the combination, but don’t use all chickpeas as it will be more like hummus than dressing.

  • 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked
  • 5-6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3-2/3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2-3 teaspoons gluten-free tamari/soy sauce
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon agave/honey/sugar
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 of an 8x8 sheet of sushi nori
  1. Rinse + drain your chickpeas and soaked cashews and place in a high-speed blender with 5 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/3 cup water, tahini, 2 teaspoons tamari, garlic, agave or honey, 3/4 teaspoon mustard, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.
  2. Blend until fully smooth, scraping the sides as needed.  Add more water as needed to thin to desired consistency.
  3. Crumble 3/4 of an 8x8 sheet of sushi nori and blend into the dressing.
  4. Taste and adjust flavors as necessary adding more lemon, tamari, pepper, and/or the last 1/4 sheet of nori if desired. 
  5. Refrigerate for about 5 days.  Dressing thickens as it sits.  Thin out with water/lemon juice/olive oil as needed. 

notes/substitutions:  Nori is crucial for the sea-like flavor.  You may be able to use those little seaweed snack packs as a substitute here, but watch as they typically contain a lot of sodium.  This is a taste as you go dressing, so add more of each ingredient slowly. 

Vegan Caesar Lettuce Wraps // edible perspective

And if tofu isn’t your thing, chickpeas or tempeh are an excellent substitute.  You can cook either in the skillet the same way as the tofu until browned on all sides.

Meal replication complete!! 

Ashley

Just wanted to share this zoomed out view while I was photographing the wraps.  Majorly overcast/snowy day!

Vegan Caesar Lettuce Wraps // edible perspective

Reader Comments (32)

Ashley, I love these!! They looks so good and I love the addition of the quinoa!

The snow will not stop, will it!? We got over a foot last night!
April 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTieghan
Oh my word this looks amazing!!! Loving the use of lettuce wraps too. What a hearty, gorgeous dish <3
I have been debating cast iron cookware for a while now, I really need to ditch the non-stick toxic pans. I think I'm going to bite the bullet very soon.
Between you and Paige and your food/adventure finds in Colorado, you make me want to come visit, I've never been!
I still can't see your photos (which makes me extremely sad!) but this sounds AMAZING! I can't wait to give it a go! Yum!!
April 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLauren (PB&G)
Those look INCREDIBLE!! Wow...drooling...
Yum! I can't wait to make this. Looks delicious.
This looks fantastic! I wish I had some in front of me right now! And seriously, all this snow?!?
April 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoy
These wraps sound so good--beautiful and green and crispy and fresh! I love the idea of a vegan caesar dressing--and I'd even try it in all-chickpea hummus form, honestly. Hey, why not? Sometimes you just don't have any cashews. :)
April 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEileen
Delish! So creative to use nori for that fishy flavour in the dressing. I just ate sweet potato, tofu, kale scramble for dinner so I'm out of tofu and kale but this will be made soon!
April 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEmma
I love Ceasar salad and you must be in my brain, because I was just thinking about vegan-izing it!!
These look absolutely delicious! Gorgeous photos!
April 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMarie @ Little Kitchie
L.O.V.E. these. Obsessed with lettuce wrappy things lately and this one sounds completely perfect. It has everything good! High five, Ash :)
April 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
Wow these all look so good. combining good food with artful photography makes me want to break out my camera! Plus wrapping things in lettuce is so much better than bread.
April 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRonald
This looks absolutely delicious! Do you think I could sub ume plum vingar for the nori?
I can't wait to try! Thanks for always sharing your amazing recipes.
April 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelena
@Lauren - Hmm, that is so odd! I haven't had any other complaints. Sorry for the trouble!

@Eileen - The all-chickpea version would definitely be delicious, I just wanted to warn that it would be hummus-like. :)

@Emma - Sounds like a delicious scramble!

@Laura - Your comment made my day. Thanks, darlin!

@Helena - Unfortunately not. Nori are the seaweed wraps that sushi is wrapped up in. It's not a liquid like ume plum vinegar. The nori is used to add a fishy flavor like anchovies in traditional caesar dressing. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nori
April 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
These look so unique and delicious! Love it. Great idea to use particle board (I think that's what it is, right?) for photo background--definitely need to do this...
@Laura - Nope! It's a large cutting board. :)
April 23, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
Love this! I am in love with caesar dressing but so not in love with how darn unhealthy it is. Yours is packed with protein and the spices, gosh I just can't wait to try it! I've been holding off buying a cast iron skillet too, but now's the time I think!
April 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKaty @ Katy's Kitchen
These look incredible! I absolutely love quinoa and avocado, and together they are amazing!!
Ana
April 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAna
I love everything about these! Yum!
These wraps look delicious, and so wholesome! Lovely photos!
Yum, these look so good! And perfect for this spring weather Colorado is finally getting! I love Tasty Harmony. Just curious, what are your other favorite restaurants in town? And I too love my cast iron skillet for tofu. I also use it to cook slabs of tofu by pressing the tofu first, and then while cooking it in the skillet, add a pot on top with soup cans or something heavy in it to press it while cooking. Works great! Thanks for the recipe, can't wait to try it out!
April 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie
@Stephanie - Oooh, a local! :) We go to La Luz about once a week, typically on Friday for a quick + cheap meal and awwwesome margaritas. I order rice/beans/veggies in a bowl (not on the menu) and it costs like $4. I load it up with salsa and scoop with chips. For something a little nicer, we LOVE El Monte. If you haven't been yet, you must check it out. Never been disappointed there. Great selection of GF meals (I think everything is GF except one of their beans they cook in beer) and veg-friendly. Fantastic, fresh guacamole. Crown Pub is really good, too. We always take out of towners there for a good burger and they have a phenomenal veggie meal - Kings Curry (sans chicken). Le Creperie is great for breakfast/brunch and they do GF crepes if needed. For some reason we haven't ventured to The Rainbow yet but I've heard good things. Restaurant 415 is typically really good, although we've had a few "off" meals there. Great veggie/GF selections..even pizza! For Middle Eastern food, we love Yum Yum on Elizabeth and for Indian, it's hands down, Star of India. -- Thanks for the tip on cooking tofu. I'll have to try that out!
April 24, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
Awesome! I tend to dislike tofu, but with all the other flavors in here I think I could handle it. Lettuce wraps, to me, are always Thai-inspired, so it's cool to see something different!
Stop that. Everything you post, I want to make. I'm going to bankrupt myself buying cashews, tahini and kale out of season!! Just kidding. I love you and your recipes. Thanks for making my life so wholesome (I made your pea pesto twice last week!).
April 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterErika
YUM! I have to make this asap! I am always looking for new recipes and innovative ways to use tofu.
Is it totally weird of me that I love the zoomed out photo of the table and the contrast between it and all the scrummy umptious food shots? :) What a difference!

By the way, this is on my "To Make" list for the week. I have one other dish lined up before yours (have to use up some beans before they bite it :) ), but, then, this is SO totally gracing my table. Just bought some collards and had no idea what I was going to do with them. What WHAT! LOL (Is it totally weird after typing "What, What" I thought of Ludacris' "Oo oo"? LOL Please tell me someone knows what I'm talking about. SO time for me to get OUT of here! :) )
April 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLiz
who says nutritious food cannot be yummy and delicious
April 24, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKenneth
@Erika - Your comment made me laugh! Glad you're enjoying the recipes! :)

@Liz - End of the workday?? ;)
April 24, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
I made this for lunch today and i love it! The dressing is delicious and I love the idea of adding nori to give the Caesar Dressing a fishy taste. I have made something similar with an avocado base and capers to give it fishiness but I love the added health benefits the nori brings.
I also love it when you post picture of your set up. I'm trying to improve my photographs and I find it really helpful.
@Jesse - Thrilled to hear you enjoyed this meal. :) Thanks for your comment and glad to hear you find the photography setup photos helpful.
May 11, 2013 | Registered CommenterAshley
I know I'm late to the party but I just saw these on buzzfeed and almost jumped into my computer. They look SO good! Great recipe!
5/5 stars! This was delicious!
June 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKatherine

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