This beautiful vegan ranch salad has so many wonderful ingredients, but it’s actually a rather easy recipe that can be made ahead. The base is a flavorful Southwestern-style salad, it’s topped with simple barbecue-roasted cauliflower, and garnished with a blend-and-serve dairy-free ranch dressing. And for another unique twist, the ranch dressing is made with sunflower seeds and can be made nut-free!
Photo credit: Jackie Sobon
This Vegan Ranch Salad is Layered with Simple, Healthy Flavor
Although it isn’t in the name, this vegan ranch salad recipe is a “Buddha Bowl” from the cookbook Vegan Buddha Bowls by Cara Carin Cifelli. What is a Buddha Bowl? It’s a one-dish meal served in a bowl, signifying a big round Buddha belly shape, that incorporates the “clean eating” principles of Chinese and Japanese medicine. Most Buddha Bowls are vegetarian, and often vegan.
Cara gets creative with her healthy Buddha Bowl concepts, but each one is packed with nutritious foods. This vegan ranch salad is just one example. Here’s what she writes about it.
There is so much to love about this salad! The ranch dressing is herbaceous and flavorful while adding additional creaminess alongside the avocado.
The barbecued cauliflower pretty much speaks for itself here, with its tangy sweetness that goes so well with the spiced corn, tomatoes and black beans. This salad will surely have you coming back for more!
Enjoy this sample recipe from Vegan Buddha Bowls – there are 60 more in this vibrant, full-color, plant-based cookbook!
Special Diet Notes: Vegan Ranch Salad
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, and vegetarian.
For a nut-free, vegan ranch salad, you can substitute your dairy-free, nut-free unsweetened milk beverage of choice for the almond milk.
- 1 cup (145 g) raw sunflower seeds, soaked with very hot water for 15 minutes (see Note)
- 1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened almond milk
- 3 tbsp (45 ml) fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) avocado or grapeseed oil
- 2 tablespoons (6 g) tightly packed minced fresh dill
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons (10 ml) avocado oil
- 6 heaping cups (600 g) bite-sized cauliflower florets
- 3⁄4 cup (188 g) barbecue sauce, divided
- 1 cup (180 g) diced tomato 1 cup (150 g) corn kernels
- 1 (15-oz [425-g]) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons (5 g) chili powder
- 2 teaspoons (6 g) garlic powder
- 8 to 10 cups (440 to 550 g) chopped romaine lettuce
- 1 to 2 ripe avocados, diced
- 1⁄2 cup (80 g) thinly sliced red onion
- 1⁄2 cup (21 g) tightly packed chopped fresh cilantro
- Make the dressing: Rinse and drain the sunflower seeds and place them in a high-speed blender along with the almond milk, lemon juice, garlic, onion powder and vinegar. Blend on high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until smooth and creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides or use the tamper to help, if needed. While the motor is running, slowly add the avocado oil through the center of the lid until emulsified. Transfer to a bowl, add the dill and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Make the cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C). Coat a baking sheet with the avocado oil. Add the cauliflower and 1⁄2 cup (125 g) of the barbecue sauce to the prepared pan. Using your hands or a spatula, mix well to evenly coat the florets with the sauce. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, stopping to toss halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cool for 5 minutes, then add the remaining 1⁄4 cup (63 g) of barbecue sauce, toss to coat.
- Make the salad: In a small bowl, combine the tomato, corn, black beans, cumin, chili powder and garlic powder and mix well.
- In a large bowl, combine the chopped romaine and 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup (120 to 175 ml) of the dressing. Mix well to evenly coat and then add more dressing, if desired. You will likely have some dressing left over. Divide up the salad greens equally among 4 serving bowls and top each bowl equally with the tomato mixture. Top each bowl with avocado, cauliflower, red onion and fresh cilantro. Serve immediately.
No High-Speed Blender: If you do not have a high-speed blender, soak your sunflower seeds for up to an hour or overnight, to protect your blender.