When I was growing up, salads never seemed to be a consideration for the Thanksgiving table. The greenest thing we had was my aunt’s cream of mushroom green bean casserole (check out my healthfied version!)
This year, I’m hosting Thanksgiving and can tell you one thing: there will be salad on the menu!
I’m someone who loves noshing on something beautiful and green in between all those bites of my creamy mashed potatoes and gravy. Anyone else feel the same?
If so, then today’s recipe is perfect for you! I had been wanting to make a vegan or vegetarian caesar salad and figured now would be the perfect time to share the recipe… but of course, with an Ambitious Kitchen creative twist.
Brussels sprouts caesar salad ingredients
This isn’t your average caesar salad, so don’t expect it to be. Rather, it’s a unique take on a traditional caesar salad jazzed up with fresh seasonal produce. Instead of basic romaine in the caesar salad, I decided to use shredded brussels sprouts and also add tender roasted butternut squash. But I couldn’t stop myself there. I tossed it all together with a simple vegan caesar salad dressing that’s literally SO FREAKING GOOD you wouldn’t even know it’s vegan. Here’s what you’ll need to make this fabulous recipe:
- For the roasted butternut squash: olive oil, butternut squash, honey or maple syrup and a bit of salt and pepper.
- For the toasted pecans: you’ll just need maple syrup, pecans and salt.
- For the salad: we’re skipping the romaine and adding shaved brussels sprouts, apple, dates, pomegranate and manchego (or parmesan).
- For the vegan caesar dressing: you’ll need tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, capers, caper brine (from the jar), dijon mustard, a little warm water to thin and salt & pepper.
I’M TELLING YOU, THIS SALAD IS DAMN GOOOOOOOOOD.
How to make vegan caesar salad dressing
Making a vegan caesar salad dressing is a lot easier than you would think. You’ll simply mix together tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, capers, caper brine (from the jar), dijon mustard, a little warm water, salt & pepper until it’s smooth and creamy. You can also shake up all of the ingredients in a mason jar!
I like to make the base of my caesar salad dressings with tahini because I love the nutty flavor it adds. However, the most crucial part of making a caesar salad dressing is using capers, caper brine, fresh lemon juice, garlic and a tiny bit of dijon mustard; these ingredients create a nice traditional salty, robust flavor that’s found in caesar salad dressings.
Customize this brussels sprouts caesar salad
- Add a boost of protein with chickpeas or chicken breast.
- Make it vegan and/or paleo by simply omitting the cheese or using a sprinkle of dairy free cheese. Be sure to also use maple syrup instead of honey.
- Mix up your toppings with candied walnuts, dried cranberries and even bacon crumbles!
How to store brussels sprouts caesar salad
Store any leftovers in an airtight container for a few days. You can either store it with the dressing mixed in or save the dressing on the side to add when you’re serving. I will say that the dressing marinates the brussels to make them extra delicious, so don’t be afraid to dress it up and serve later!
What to serve with this brussels sprouts caesar salad
Check out all of my Thanksgiving recipes here, plus a few suggestions on what to pair this salad with:
I hope you fall in love with this brussels sprouts ceasar salad, because we have! Bring it to Thanksgiving to impress everyone, or simply throw together for your weekday meals for something a little different and fun. If you make it, be sure to leave a comment & a rating so I know how you liked it!
Winter Butternut Squash Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad
Gorgeous brussels sprouts caesar salad full of flavor thanks to tender roasted butternut squash, shaved brussels sprouts, apple, pomegranate, dates, sweet & salty maple pecans and tossed in a savory vegan caesar dressing. This delicious vegetarian caesar salad makes the perfect lunch or festive side dish!
- For the butternut squash:
- 3 cups ½ inch cubed butternut squash
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ tablespoon honey or pure maple syrup
- Freshly ground salt and pepper
- For the sweet and salty toasted pecans:
- 1/2 cup pecan halves
- 1-2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
- sea salt
- For the salad:
- 1 pound (16 ounces) brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and yellow outer leaves removed
- ¾ cup seeds from 1 small pomegranate
- 1 large apple, thinly sliced (honeycrisp or pink lady apples are great)
- ½ cup chopped Medjool dates
- 1/3 cup shaved manchego (or shaved parmesan)
- For the caesar dressing:
- ¼ cup tahini
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Juice from ½ large lemon
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 teaspoon finely diced capers
- 1 teaspoon caper brine (from the jar of capers)
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1-2 tablespoons warm water, to thin dressing
- Freshly ground salt and black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and add butternut squash cubes. Drizzle with olive oil, honey or maple syrup, salt and pepper. Toss to coat the butternut squash with the oil. Roast for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through. Butternut squash is done when fork tender.
- While butternut squash is cooking, you can toast pecans: add the pecans to a pan and place over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 4-5 minutes until they are slightly golden brown. Once golden brown, turn off the heat and stir in a teaspoon or two of pure maple syrup to coat the pecans, followed by a sprinkle of sea salt. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Next, shred your brussels sprouts: shave the brussels sprouts by using a food processor with the slicing attachment and pulse until the brussels sprouts are thinly sliced. If you don’t have a food processor, feel free to use a sharp knife to thinly slice. Add shredded brussels sprouts to a large bowl.
- Next, mix the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth: tahini, olive oil, fresh lemon juice, garlic, diced capers, caper brine, dijon mustard, warm water and freshly ground black pepper. Taste and add a pinch of salt if necessary.
Pour dressing over shredded brussels sprouts and toss together with tongs to coat the brussels. Before you add anything else, I highly recommend tasting the brussels to see if they are salty enough to your liking. If not, season with a bit of freshly ground salt and pepper. Next, you can choose to serve this on a platter or in a bowl. Platters are pretty for entertaining or serving guests and bowls are great for date nights, family dinner and meal prep.
If making on a platter: add all of the brussels sprouts coated with dressing to a large platter. Top with roasted butternut squash, then pomegranate seeds, apple slices, chopped dates, shaved manchego and finally, the toasted pecans.
If making in a bowl: stir in the cubed roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, apple slices, chopped dates, shaved parmesan and toasted pecans. Gently toss again so that everything is combined. Serves 6.
To make paleo, vegan & dairy free simply leave off the cheese. Make sure to also use maple syrup instead of honey for the butternut squash.
If you want to make this a full meal, I suggest adding 1 (15 ounce) can of drained chickpeas.
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats