The Waldorf Salad is one of those classic salads that is typically found at places like steakhouses. Its flavor combination is iconic: apples, grapes, and walnuts in a creamy dressing. However, I have a few issues with the classic Waldorf that I wanted to remedy. First, it's often done with iceberg lettuce, which is pretty bland. Second, I wanted to ditch the heavy creamy dressing. Third, the flavors are nice, but a bit boring; they needed a tune-up.
My reinvented Waldorf-inspired Brussels sprouts salad cures all those issues and the result is a cozy fall delight. This beauty features the most amazing lemony roasted Brussels sprouts that put iceberg to shame. The walnuts have gotten a total makeover; they're now toasted in maple syrup and cayenne for an addicting, flavor-packed crunch. The dressing is significantly lightened up by being based in yogurt, yet still very flavorful thanks to lemon juice and coarse-grained mustard.
What is a Waldorf Salad?
The Waldorf is an iconic salad originating from the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City. It typically has apples, grapes, celery, and walnuts, as well as a creamy mayo-based dressing. Apparently it dates back to a charity event held at the hotel in the late 1800's, so needless to say it has been around for a long time. My Waldorf-inspired Brussels sprouts salad borrows some of the classic flavors and remakes them in a cozier, more interesting, and more healthful way.
How to Make a Healthier and Vegan Waldorf Salad
To make the Waldorf salad a better nutritional choice, I've made two key changes in this recipe. First, the dressing is based in protein-rich yogurt instead of mayo. Second, Waldorf salads are sometimes served with iceberg lettuce, but I've replaced that with nutrient-dense roasted Brussels sprouts. This vegan Brussels sprouts recipe keeps some of the charm of the classic but is reinvented with a more modern perspective on healthy eating.
Brussels Sprouts Waldorf Serving Options
This cozy Brussels sprouts salad is a versatile dish that's simultaneously fresh and cozy, can be eaten warm or cold, and can even serve as a light meal. Because of that, it's a recipe I come back to again and again during the fall and winter. If you want to make this salad heartier, feel free to add your favorite grilled protein on top, a bed of farro underneath, or perhaps even a big creamy scoop of my favorite lemon hummus.
This salad would also work well as a make-ahead dish to bring to a seasonal potluck. Unlike a lettuce salad, you won't have to worry about this one wilting if it sits out; these vegan Brussels sprouts are definitely travel-friendly.
If you want to prepare this vegan Waldorf salad in advance, you can do most of the work a day ahead of time. Roast the Brussels sprouts, toast the walnuts, and make the dressing, then store everything in separate containers (with everything in the fridge except for the walnuts). When you're ready to serve, you can reheat the Brussels sprouts if you want, but you don't have to. Just make sure to cut the apple at the last minute so it doesn't brown, and do all the assembly right before serving.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here's what you'll need for this vegan Brussels sprouts recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Salt and pepper
Lemon. You'll use the zest for marinating the roasted sprouts and the juice for the dressing.
Apple cider. You'll use this for tossing with the roasted sprouts. It adds really nice flavor and moisture, but it's not critical if you don't have it. You can use a bit of water instead if needed.
Cayenne. For adding some very subtle heat to the walnuts. Feel free to omit this if you're not into heat or if you want a more classic flavor profile.
Apple. I love honeycrisp because of their great texture and sweetness, although you can use what you like.
Yogurt. This is the creamy element of the dressing for this vegan Waldorf salad. Make sure it's unsweetened and unflavored and remember to choose a dairy-free yogurt if you want to keep this recipe vegan.
Coarse-grained mustard. Learn how to make your own here!
I'm so excited for you to try this recipe. I've been remaking the Waldorf with a yogurt dressing for years, but it was only recently that I started doing it with Brussels sprouts. The result is so much heartier and more satisfying. Add in crisp apple, juicy grapes, and maple-cayenne roasted walnuts and you have yourself a fall salad masterpiece.
Do you think that salad can be a comfort food? I'm a firm believer that the answer is yes, and this Brussels sprouts salad is a great example. It has such varied textures and flavors, a creamy dressing, and is so nostalgic. Comfort food doesn't necessarily have to be synonymous with food that is fried, heavy, or empty of nutrients. Just because it feeds the soul doesn't mean it can't also nourish the body!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
It's much more than just food. Together we'll explore seasonal ingredients and healthy recipes. But we'll also delve into health and wellness topics, self care tips, books, podcasts, and the natural world. This newsletter is all about leading a more colorful, plant-filled, holistic, and intentional life.
This vegan Waldorf salad riff is a more flavorful, cozier, and healthier version of the classic. It uses roasted Brussels sprouts instead of lettuce and a protein-rich yogurt dressing. Sweet apple, juicy grapes, and crunchy walnuts make it feel nostalgic.
Prep the Brussels sprouts by trimming off the stems and cutting each in half. Place them cut-side down on a lightly-oiled baking sheet. Salt and pepper generously.
Roast the Brussels sprouts for 20-30 minutes until tender and golden.
While the Brussels sprouts are roasting, toast the walnuts in a large skillet with a touch of oil until golden brown. Keep a very close eye on them and toss them every few seconds, they'll burn easily. When they're lightly browned and fragrant, turn off the heat. Add the maple syrup, generous salt, and a small pinch of cayenne. Keep tossing the nuts while the residual heat in the pan caramelizes the maple syrup, then let them cool.
Assemble the dressing.
When the Brussels sprouts are done roasting, remove them from the oven and immediately add the zest of a lemon and a splash of apple cider, then toss. Let them sit for a few minutes. This will infuse them with flavor and keep them from becoming dry.
While the Brussels sprouts sit, cut the apple into thin slices and slice the grapes into halves.
Arrange the Brussels sprouts, apple slices, grapes, and walnuts on a serving platter, then drizzle with dressing. Serve any extra dressing on the side.