Is there a more romantic phrase in the English language than “let’s split a Caesar”? When I hear those glorious words spoken at the dinner table, I know I’m dining with a potential soulmate, someone who rightfully appreciates the fundamental goodness of crispy romaine, crunchy croutons, and of course, the dressing. Creamy, peppery, and briny, a good Caesar dressing can bring people together.
But when I’m cooking for myself, the demands of a traditional Caesar can feel more overwhelming than romantic—namely, the part where I have to make mayonnaise by emulsifying a raw egg yolk and oil. Emulsification is the process of forcing two immiscible liquids to come together. Much like dating, sometimes this process works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Success depends on several factors, like the temperatures of the egg yolk and oil, the strength of your whisking arm, the size of the mixing bowl, and, if you ask me, luck. And while I wholly believe in taking risks romantically, I think it’s okay to play it safe for lower-stakes things like salad dressings.
Luckily, a few years back, I discovered a shortcut for Caesar dressing without the potential heartbreak of failed emulsification: ditching homemade mayonnaise for store-bought hummus. The result? A casually vegan Caesar dressing that’s light and zippy, and still captures the creaminess of the original. All you need is five minutes and a few fridge staples.
Here’s how to make Hummus Caesar Dressing:
Add a hefty scoop (about ½ cup) plain hummus to a bowl. Squeeze in ½ lemon (or, if you don’t have one, add 1 Tbsp. of white wine vinegar). Grate in 1 garlic clove. Add a squeeze of Dijon mustard and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce (vegan if you’re vegan). Season generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Whisk until reasonably combined, then whisk in a long pour (about 2 Tbsp.) extra-virgin olive oil. Adjust the seasoning to taste (maybe more garlic, lemon, or black pepper). You can add a splash of water if you want to loosen the consistency.
You could stop right there, or add some texture. I like rough-chopping a few oil-packed anchovy fillets and stirring those in. To keep the dressing vegan, try whisking in: a spoonful of chopped capers or sliced pepperoncini, a pinch of red pepper flakes, or some finely grated lemon zest (start with ½ lemon). Taste and adjust if needed.
Now go ahead and dress your favorite sturdy green, like romaine or kale. You could also use this to dress a grain bowl or sheet pan of roasted vegetables. Or, if you’re a planner, throw the dressing in the fridge, where it’ll keep for about four days. Flavorful, foolproof, no heartbreak needed.