If you’re reading this, you’re probably already open to the idea of eating Brussels sprouts, at least we hope so. As sprouts are constantly ranked among the most hated vegetables in the world, we were a tad hesitant about including them in any of our bowl recipes, even one as popular as the Caesar. But here you are. Congratulations! You’ve made it this far – and we’re so happy you did. Once you’ve tried our “Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad,” you’ll never be the same.
Now, of all vegetables, you’re probably wondering why we choose to include Brussels sprouts? Well, you can thank our founder, Nina, for that! Like many others, she once harbored a deep disdain for sprouts. But as That Salad Lady, she was determined to learn to love them. One day she decided to shred up a bunch and pair them with her favorite Caesar salad ingredients. After adding a few more tasty layers, she ultimately re-created her own version of the classic blend.
Here we’re bringing all the deliciousness to you.
THE BALANCING ACT
We’ve already mentioned that Brussels sprouts are among the most hated vegetables in the world – and turns out, there’s actually a bit of science behind the why. In fact, research shows that certain gene variations can actually make people more sensitive to the rather bitter taste of sprouts. While most of us can taste something bitter when eating them, people with the gene variant are super sensitive to that bitterness and more likely to just hate them altogether.
Whether you have a gene variant or not, Brussels sprouts do indeed taste bitter, but, luckily, there are many ways to get around that. For instance, you can pair them with a smidgeon of something you really like. Pretty simple, right? You can also lessen the bitterness of sprouts by pairing them with something sweet, sour or savory. In creating our Brussels Sprouts Caesar, That Salad Lady did a little bit of both.
For starters, she paired sprouts with all the classic Caesar ingredients she likes – and it just so happens that each of these ingredients also adds pleasant savory flavors to the bowl. As does bacon, which makes everything taste better. By including a few more colorful layers for added flavor and nutrition, she transformed the sprouts she once hated into a crave-worthy treat. Keto and gluten-free friendly, wholesome and very satisfying this one’s definitely a must try!
Let’s talk more about what’s in That Salad Lady’s Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad and why.
The Classic Caesar Trio
There are a few ingredients we’ve come to expect in any Caesar salad recipe: (1) parmesan cheese, (2) croutons and (3) Caesar dressing, of course. This classic ingredient trio is what gives the Caesar its characteristically rich savory taste (technically called “umami”). Needless to say, our recipe starts with these ingredients. Let’s talk a little about each.
We specifically include Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in our Brussels Sprouts Caesar. It’s essentially the “authentic” Italian version of what we know as parmesan cheese. Like parmesan, Parmigiano-Reggiano is a hard cheese made from cow’s milk. The main differences between the two are their aging processes and how their ingredients are regulated.
According to the trademark laws in Italy, a hard cheese can’t be called “Parmigiano Reggiano” unless it’s made in Italy according to a specific recipe and aged for at least a year. Like other quality white cheeses, it’s a great source of protein, calcium and probiotics.
As Parmigiano-Reggiano is aged, just a tiny bit packs a whole lot of flavor and tangy bite. It does, however, come at a higher price point. If it’s better for your budget, feel free to use regular parmesan cheese instead. Either way, our recipe calls for shaving or shredding the cheese. You can do this with either a flat or box grater, or a sharp knife.
Crispy, Crunchy Croutons
With their rich, savory flavor and delightfully crispy texture, croutons can bring a crunch of happiness to practically any salad bowl. While there’s a whole slew of bagged options out there, nothing beats the flavor of homemade croutons – and you don’t have to be a masterful baker to make them. We include our “No-Hassle Homemade Croutons” in the recipe. For a keto or gluten-free Caesar, simply make them with your favorite gluten-free or keto bread.
Eggless Caesar Dressing
A Caesar salad is only as good as its dressing. We include our “Authentically Rich and Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing” in the recipe. Our dressing delivers the perfect balance of tangy, savory and salty flavors. It’s an “eggless” recipe, which is great if you’re squeamish about eating raw eggs. We replace the traditional egg with the refreshing flavor of Greek yogurt. Along with a hefty dose of protein, yogurt brings health-promoting probiotics and calcium to the blend.
Shredded Brussels Sprouts
As you might already know, the traditional Caesar salad recipe calls for romaine lettuce. While you could easily replace the Brussels sprouts with romaine, our goal here is to convince you that sprouts don’t deserve the reputation they have. Our recipe specifically calls for shredding the sprouts. This makes them a lot more palatable – as does pairing them with all the savory flavors of the classic Caesar ingredients we’ve mentioned above.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also mention that Brussels sprouts are actually bitter for good reason. As a cruciferous vegetable, they have an exceptionally large presence of phytonutrient compounds called glucosinolates, which give them that uniquely bitter taste. These compounds not only have powerful cancer-fighting potential, but they can also improve the liver’s ability to remove toxins from the body’s blood supply.
Now, if we haven’t convinced you that Brussels sprouts are worth eating, you can easily replace them with other crucifers like kale, bok choy or Swiss chard and get many of the same benefits.
A Few More Tasty Layers
We top off our Brussel Sprouts Caesar Salad recipe with a few more layers for added flavor and nutrition. These include: (1) carrots, (2) tomatoes and (3) bacon.
Carrots and tomatoes are among the brightest and best ingredients for overall good health. Both are especially rich in carotenoid phytonutrients, which play vital roles in heart function, normal vision, immune health and even the health and appearance of your skin (study up in our Nutrition Glossary to learn more). Our recipe calls for using grape tomatoes, but you can use cherry, vine, Roma or whatever you have on hand. They’re all equally nutritious.
Then there is bacon which, in spite of its bad reputation, can actually be a nutritious add-in when used sparingly and paired with vegetables and other whole foods as in this recipe.
Whether pork, turkey or meatless, the texture, sheer saltiness and savory flavor of bacon makes it the perfect pairing for Brussel sprouts. In and of itself, bacon is a good source of quality protein and other essential nutrients (check out our Nutrition Glossary to learn more). We chose pork bacon for our recipe, but you can experiment with other types and see what you like. You can also leave out the bacon altogether – it’s an optional layer.
Cooking is only required for the croutons and bacon, both of which are “optional” ingredients. The recipes are highlighted on the recipe card if you choose to make them. Preparing the croutons involves three simple steps: cutting, seasoning and baking bread. That’s it! All you’ll need is a loaf of bread plus five ingredients and they’re ready in about 25 minutes.
GET YOUR CHOP ON
Our Brussels Sprouts Caesar calls for first shredding and rinsing the Brussels sprouts, and then grating or shredding the carrots and cutting the grape tomatoes in half. Pretty simple, right? For the carrots, you can use either a flat or box grater, or a food processor. You can also use the matchstick carrots sold prepackaged at your local grocery store. Whatever works.
Shredding the Brussel sprouts is the bulk of the work, but the process is very straightforward (watch the recipe video to see exactly how it’s done).
To shred the sprouts, all you’ll need is a cutting board or another stable cutting surface, and a good quality chef’s knife or another sharp knife suitable for chopping. Simply remove any tough outer leaves from the sprouts, cut them in half lengthwise and then slice them crosswise to make “shreds.” From there, just separate the shreds and toss the root ends. That’s it!
That Salad Lady’s “Authentically Rich and Creamy Caesar Salad Dressing” is included as part of the recipe (see recipe card). All you’ll need to do is add all the ingredients to your blender or food processor. With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth. That’s it!
If you choose not to make our dressing, be sure to choose a good quality Caesar dressing or even your favorite ranch or balsamic vinaigrette. Full-fat varieties are best (study up in our Nutrition Glossary to learn why).
BUILD YOUR SALAD BOWL
When you’re ready to build your bowl, add the carrots to the shredded Brussels sprouts, drizzle on your dressing and stir until everything’s well blended. Consider this to be the base of your Brussels sprouts Caesar. It’s best not to add any other ingredients until you’re ready to eat in order to avoid a soggy, sloppy salad the next day. When it’s time to eat, stir in the tomatoes and top off the mixture with bacon, cheese and croutons.
All put together, the actual blend is large enough for eight generous servings. Leftovers are best enjoyed within 2-3 days. Any remaining dressing will last in the fridge for up to a week so long as it’s kept in an airtight container. As a point of reference, our founder, Nina, typically eats Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salads with added protein (see “finishing touches” below) over the course of a few days, as she generally eats one large meal a day.
But, it’s all about building a bowl that works best for YOU.
Add Your Finishing Touches
To boost the protein content and overall filling effect of your salad throw in a handful of chopped chicken breast, shredded salmon, cooked shrimp or a sliced hard-boiled egg. Visit our Nutrition Glossary for more ideas, as it’s all about making YOU confident in building YOUR bowl.
SHOW US YOUR BOWL
That Salad Lady wants to see your bowl! If you like it, which we are sure you will, drop a comment below and tag pics on Instagram with @thatsaladlady, #thatsaladlady and #buildyourbowl. If you love it, pin it on Pinterest and share it on Facebook and Twitter using #thatsaladlady.
Brussels Sprouts Caesar SaladCourse: Appetizers, MainCuisine: Italian, AmericanDifficulty: Easy
Keto and gluten-free friendly, unbelievably nutritious and downright crave-worthy our “Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad” is indeed a must try!
1 pound raw Brussels sprouts, shredded*
2 medium carrots, grated or shredded**
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved (cherry, vine or roma tomatoes also work)
8 strips of bacon, pan-fried or oven-baked, sliced and chopped into tiny bits (see recipe, optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or parmesan) cheese, shaved or shredded***
2 cups croutons, whole or crushed (see recipe, optional)****
1/2 cup Caesar dressing (see recipe, optional)
1/8 teaspoons ground black pepper, or to taste
- Get Cooking and Chopping
- If using, prepare the homemade croutons and bacon bits as per the recipes highlighted above. We recommend starting with the croutons and then preparing the bacon bits while they bake. Once done, set both aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, shred and rinse the Brussels sprouts, grate or shred the carrots and then cut the grape tomatoes in half and set them aside or cover and place them in the fridge, separately.
- Prepare the Dressing
- As per the recipe, add all the ingredients to your blender or food processor. With variable speed units, start with a low speed and then gradually increase it to a higher speed until the mixture is perfectly smooth.
- You can store any extra dressing in a tightly covered container for up to a week.
- Our dressing can be substituted for a good quality full-fat Caesar dressing or even your favorite ranch or balsamic vinaigrette.
- Build the Salad
- In a bowl, add the carrots to the shredded Brussels sprouts, drizzle on the dressing and stir until everything’s well blended. Consider this to be the “base blend” for the salad.
- Portion out the base blend according to your needs, add pepper to taste and then stir in the tomatoes.
- Stir in more dressing and/or pepper to taste and then top off the mixture with bacon, cheese and croutons.
- *Brussels sprouts can be replaced with romaine lettuce or other cruciferous vegetable like kale, bok choy or Swiss chard.
- **We suggest grating or shredding the carrots. You can do this with either a flat or box grater, or a food processor. You can also use the matchstick carrots sold prepackaged at your local grocery store.
- ***Our homemade croutons recipe calls for using a French baguette or a loaf of French bread. For a keto or gluten-free Caesar, simply make them with your favorite gluten-free or keto bread.
- ****Parmigiano-Reggiano is an “authentic” version of parmesan cheese. Since it’s aged for a longer period of time, it has richer flavor and a tangier bite. It also comes at a higher price point so feel free to use regular parmesan if it’s better for your budget.
- To boost the protein content and filling effect of your bowl, throw in a handful of chopped chicken breast, shredded salmon, cooked shrimp or a sliced hard-boiled egg.
- Depending on your eating style, you can double your portions and eat less meals or store the “base blend” in an airtight container in the fridge and eat multiple bowls over the course of multiple days. Leftovers are best enjoyed within 2-3 days.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is only an estimate. Please review our full disclaimer to get a clear understanding of the nutrition and health information and resources presented and written on our website.