When I was growing up, salads never seemed to be a consideration for the holiday table. The greenest thing we had was my aunt’s cream of mushroom green bean casserole (check out my healthfied version!)
A few years back when I hosted Thanksgiving I created this beautiful butternut squash brussels sprouts caesar salad and my guests not only fell in LOVE with the flavors and textures, but they also appreciated having something fresh and green on the table.
I had been wanting to make a vegan or vegetarian caesar salad with an Ambitious Kitchen creative twist, and this salad truly checks all of the boxes. It’s crunchy, sweet, savory, and has the most incredible vegan caesar dressing with a tahini base. Add it to your weekly meal prep or serve it for the holidays!
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.
Customize this brussels sprouts caesar salad
- Add protein. Add a boost of protein with chickpeas or chicken breast.
- Make it vegan. Simply omit the cheese or use a sprinkle of dairy free cheese to keep the salad vegan and dairy free. Be sure to also use maple syrup instead of honey.
- Choose your toppings. Mix up your toppings with candied walnuts, sliced pears, dried cranberries, or even bacon crumbles!
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.
Easy ways to shred brussels sprouts
- Use a food processor: trim the small stem off of the brussels sprouts and add them to your food processor about a handful or so at a time. Use the slicing attachment on your food processor and pulse until they’re nice and shredded.
- Use a box grater: you can shred your brussels sprouts against a box grater on the side with the largest holes. I’d suggest spraying the grater with a bit of cooking spray so that the sprouts easily glide against the grater.
- Shred them with a knife: this is the method I typically use, and once you get the hang of it it will go pretty quickly. Using a sharp knife cut the stem off of your brussels sprouts and then cut them in half lengthwise. Then, with each half laying flat side down, chop your brussels sprouts into fine shreds. No need for them to be perfect!
Tips for cubing butternut squash
I have a full tutorial here where you can learn how to easily (and safely) peel and cube your butternut squash! You can, of course, buy pre-cubed squash, but this tutorial makes it super easy when using fresh butternut squash.
Looking to serve a crowd?
If you are serving this to a crowd/gathering, I recommend layering it on a platter. Start by tossing your brussels sprouts in the dressing so that they get nice and coated, then spread them out on a platter. Evenly top with the roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds, apple slices, dates, shaved manchego, and then the toasted pecans.
Another reason you’ll love this twist on caesar salad is that the brussels sprouts hold up beautifully for day! No soggy lettuce here. 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!
More seasonal salads you’ll love
Get all of my salad recipes here!
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:
- ½ 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
- ⅓ 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 manchego, and toasted pecans. Gently toss again so that everything is combined. Serves 6.
If you want to make this a full meal, I suggest adding 1 (15 ounce) can of drained chickpeas.
Serving: 1serving (based on 6)Calories: 345calCarbohydrates: 45.9gProtein: 8.5gFat: 17.3gSaturated Fat: 2.9gFiber: 8.9gSugar: 27g
Recipe by: Monique Volz // Ambitious Kitchen | Photography by: Eat Love Eats
This post was originally published on November 2nd, 2020, and republished on December 4th, 2023.