Easy and healthy vegetarian broccoli salad recipe with vegan bacon (!), apples, blue cheese, cranberries and pecans. Delicious gluten-free side dish full of nutrients for your Thanksgiving table!
Are you looking for the ultimate healthy broccoli salad? Here you go: Meet this healthy broccoli salad with vegan bacon (!), apples, blue cheese, pecans and cranberries! If “vegan bacon” has attracted your attention, keep reading, because it’s a total game-changer! Once you try it, you would put it in everything you cook, believe me, I was there.
This healthy broccoli salad is a great side dish for your Thanksgiving table, as well as a wholesome main course salad or a potluck salad. I’ve been making it quite often recently, since broccoli is in season here in Germany. I made it for our last barbecue party this season and everyone loved it!
Talking about the flavor profile of this salad, it combines all the tastes and textures, necessary for a perfect flavor combo: sweet crunchy apples, slightly bitter chewy broccoli, sour cranberries, salty blue cheese, savory smokey crispy vegan bacon, crunchy pecans and creamy maple Dijon mustard dressing. It has just the right temperature for the season, since broccoli are blanched in water.
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How to Make Healthy Broccoli Salad
One of the best things about this salad is that it comes together in minutes! If I were to name one ‘go-to’ fall salad, it will be this healthy broccoli salad without any doubts.
All you have to do is to blanch broccoli, make vegan bacon (more about this below), dice an apple and blue cheese, whisk a simple maple Dijon mustard dressing, add cranberries and pecans and you are good to go!
Here is how to make the vegan bacon. Cut a sheet of rice paper into 1 inch (2.5 cm) strips with scissors. Take two strips of the same length and smear them with water from both sides using a silicon brush. Press them together, creating a double-layered strip. Transfer them in a single layer onto the baking tray lined with parchment paper.
Prepare the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together Marmite, olive oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, ground paprika and black pepper. Brush each strip from both sides with the sauce and bake in the preheated oven until crispy, about 7 minutes. Cool it until you can touch it with your fingers, break it into small pieces and top your salad with it just before serving.
Here is the full recipe of my healthy broccoli salad. Hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did!
Healthy Broccoli Salad with Vegan Bacon, Apples, Blue Cheese and Pecans
For the salad:
- 400 g or 3 cups raw broccoli florets
- 1 medium-sized sweet apple diced
- 80 g or 3 oz blue cheese (e.g. Gorgonzola) diced
- 40 g or 1/3 cup cranberries
- 40 g or 1/3 cup pecans
For the vegan bacon:
- 2 pieces rice paper
- 1 teaspoon Marmite
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
For the maple Dijon mustard dressing:
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon crème fraiche
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Boil water with a pinch of salt in a medium-sized pot and blanch broccoli florets for about 3-4 minutes. Drain them and let cool a bit.
Make vegan bacon:
- Preheat the oven to 200 C or 400 F. Cut a sheet of rice paper into 1 inch (2.5 cm) strips with scissors. Take two strips of the same length and smear them with water from both sides using a silicon brush. Press them together, creating a double-layered strip. Transfer them in a single layer onto the baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Prepare the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together Marmite, olive oil, soy sauce, maple syrup, ground paprika and black pepper. Brush each strip from both sides with the sauce and bake until crispy, about 7 minutes. Set aside.
Make maple Dijon mustard dressing:
- In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, Dijon mustard, crème fraiche, apple cider vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add water to adjust the consistency.
Assemble the salad:
- In a big salad bowl, mix together broccoli, diced apple, blue cheese, cranberries, pecans and add the dressing. Break the vegan bacon into small pieces and top your salad with it just before serving. Enjoy!
This salad keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days, which makes it a perfect make ahead meal. To avoid the vegan bacon getting soggy, store it separately in an airtight container and top the salad with it just before serving.