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.
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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:
The Best Creamy Garlic Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes
Spinach Bacon Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
How to Make an Easy Roasted Chicken
The Best Cornbread Stuffing Ever (gluten free!)
Cheddar Broccoli Cauliflower Gratin
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
Hi Can any of this be made ahead of time?
Sure! Feel free to roast the squash and make the pecans ahead of time, and chop your brussels sprouts. When you’re ready to serve just slice your apples and toss the dressing in!
Made this last night for a family dinner and it was devoured.
I was anxious about this one, as I don’t think I’ve eaten raw brussel sprouts before, but blindly trusted since all of the AK recipes are delicious and it did not disappoint!
I was a bit low on Brussel sprouts, so added in some red cabbage and subbed almonds for pecans because of an allergy.
Thank you for this and all of your other gorgeous recipes. You’ve seriously upped my cooking and baking game. X
So happy to hear that! The dressing is what makes the raw veggies taste less “raw” – so delicious. Glad the whole family loved this one and I hope you keep finding new recipes you love!
Brussels Sprouts Caesar salad- a great recipe. I made it up and it was delicious. Thank you Monique for the great recipes.
So happy to hear that, Verna! A great go-to salad 🙂
I am always happy to see a recipe where it has an easy salad dressing to make. I love making homemade dressings but also hate using a blender. This was is so easy and delicious. I also bought a bag of pre mixed greens with brussel sprouts in it which helped make the recipe a little easier. Love all of the flavors so much!
Absolutely! Love this quick & easy dressing. So happy you enjoyed!
My friend made this the other night and it was so delicious that I want to make it for Christmas! My question is… do I have to make the dressing From scratch or can I cheat and buy an already made dressing? (It will be ok with my family that it’s not vegan) I’m kind of on a time crunch 🙂
Feel free to use a store bought dressing if you’re in a time crunch 🙂 hope everyone loved it!
This salad is a 10 out of 10 and does not disappoint! It’s delicious, easy to make and an absolutely crowd pleaser! I brought it to my in-laws for Thanksgiving and everyone LOVED it. They couldn’t stop talking about. I knew it was a win when my husband requested for me to make it again for xmas. Definitely recommend!
So happy to hear that! Perfect for the holidays.
What could I sub in for tahini for the dressing? Thanks!!
Cashew butter would work well!
My go to party salad in Fall/Winter, whether we are hosting or attending. Everyone loves it, even if they aren’t big brussel fans. The roasted butternut squash is key key key. Sometimes if I’m being lazy I’ll buy pre sugar toasted salad topper pecans.
Amazing! So happy to hear that.
This looks SO good, I’m going to try it for meal prep next week! I also bet persimmons would be great on this.
Perfect! And yes they would be delicious, too!
This is the best salad ever. I literally looked forward to eating it everyday for lunch. If you have a trader joes by you, I buy the pre shredded bag of brussels sprouts and cubed butternut squash. They also pomegranate seeds. I cooked my butternut squash with honey instead of maple syrup this time and I prefer the maple syrup because I like a little more sweetness.
So happy to hear that! And yes super easy 🙂 glad you enjoyed!
I made this to bring to Thanksgiving yesterday. With the peeling and cubing the squash, seeding the pomegranate and shaving the Brussel sprouts, beware that this is heavy work on your hands. I was dismayed that it just didn’t taste good. The dressing somehow thickened up on the salad and the whole thing tasted bitter. I’d love suggestions as to what may have gone wrong. I followed the recipe exactly, but then made an extra batch of dressing to put on when it seemed too dry. The vegetarians were all left with just mashed potatoes and rolls, so I felt sad that I couldn’t pull this dish off.
Hi, there! I’m so sorry to hear that it didn’t come out as expected. Not sure what happened with the dressing (maybe the brand of tahini thickened up??) but you can always add more water or lemon juice to thin it out if needed. Any chance it needed some more salt to bring out all the flavors?