Our Brussels Sprout Green Goddess Salad with Bacon and Grilled Chicken is hearty, healthy, and one of the best salads you’ll ever make. We toss shredded Brussels sprouts with grilled zucchini, grilled chicken, crispy bacon, and crunch croutons and then toss everything in an herb-packed dressing you’ll want to smother on EVERYTHING.
Brussels Sprout Green Goddess Salad
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. Like many people, I set my sights high on something unachievable like no sugar or carbs, and find myself failing before the month is over. Setting yourself up for failure is never a good thing, so I do my best to avoid it.
However, today’s Green Goddess Brussels Sprout Salad with Bacon and Grilled Chicken makes me want to set resolutions. Because if my resolution were to eat more salads, more vegetables, or just eat healthier in general, then this would check all of those boxes.
Because this is one of those salads that will want to make you eat salads EVERY SINGLE DAY. Not only is it hearty, and protein-packed, but the shredded Brussels sprouts, tender grilled chicken, and creamy avocado are all smothered in a herb-y green goddess dressing you’ll want to drink with a spoon.
We also have bits of crispy bacon loitering about, and we can’t forget about the crunchy homemade croutons that add some much texture and saltines to the finished salad.
While I’m slightly obsessed with a lot of the salads (like this kale salad and this chopped salad) on the blog, they’re almost all sides, and definitely not enough to suffice for a meal. But this, this is a meal salad. Hearty. Stick-to-your-bones filling. PACKED with good stuff.
Ingredients in Green Goddess Salad
- Brussels Sprouts. This green goddess salad is already a little more work than say our fennel salad or our chopped chickpea salad, so let’s take some help where we can get it. Buy a pre-packed bag of shredded Brussels sprouts. You’ll thank me later.
- Chicken. To make this a salad I can eat for lunch or dinner, I need it to have some protein. I’ve made this with several different forms of protein, but my favorite is classic chicken. I try to use chicken tender to ensure the chicken is a tender as possible.
- Zucchini. To go in line with the “green” theme, we add in a little bit of grilled or roasted zucchini. If it’s not in season when you make this, no big deal, you can leave it out.
- Bacon. Is there anything out there that isn’t made better with bacon?
- Croutons. I always make my own croutons. It’s just this weird thing I do. However, if you’d like to skip making your own tarragon-infused pretzel croutons, I give you permission to.
- Avocado. We use avocado both in the salad and in the dressing.
The Green Goddess Dressing
Let’s talk about the dressing. I am ADDICTED to this stuff. It’s zesty, creamy, garlicky, and pretty much anything you could want in a dressing. It’s a play on a classic green goddess dressing, but instead of parsley, chives, and fresh tarragon as the “green,” I swapped out cilantro and dried tarragon. You could use fresh, but since it’s the middle of winter, I couldn’t find in my grocery store. I happen to adore cilantro, but if it’s not your thing you can also stick with parsley.
Instead of mayo, I used creamy avocado and plain yogurt to thicken it, and seasoned it with a little bit of fresh garlic, spicy dijon mustard, and plenty of salt. A little bit of olive and water finish it off. Everything is thrown into a food processor, whipped until smooth and seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.
Of course it’s the perfect way to dress a salad, but if you leave out a tablespoon or two of the water, it could also double up as a dip for crudités or roasted shrimp. (<– Totally happening soon.)
- Avocado. If you’ve never made dressing with avocado, you’re in for a treat. It adds this luxurious, almost rich taste and texture to dressings.
- Greek yogurt. I love to swap out Greek yogurt for mayo in creamy dressings. It can hardly tell the difference and you get the added benefit of protein and low-fat.
- Lemon juice. Every salad dressing needs a little bit of acid, and lemon juice is what we’re using for ours.
- Tarragon. Gosh, I adore the taste of tarragon. It’s an essential ingredient in a green goddess dressing. If you’ve never had it, I describe it as having a sort of anise taste to it, with hints of lemon.
- Olive oil. Even though we use avocado and greek yogurt as the anchor of the dressing, I like to add a little bit of olive oil as well. Any kind will do.
- Water. Without water, this dressing is THICK. And instead of adding a copious amount of oil to loosen it up, we add water to loosen it up without diluting a lot of the flavor.
- Garlic. We like to grate our garlic instead of mincing it, so it disperses throughout the salad a little bit better.
- Dijon. Dijon mustard adds a nice subtle spice and tang to the dressing.
- Honey. Almost every salad dressing I make is a balance between fat, acid, and sweetness. Adding a little bit of honey doesn’t make the dressing sweet per se, it just balances out the flavors.
Let’s make Green Goddess Salad
The key to making our green goddess salad in a timely matter is to methodically plan out every step. Here’s what we’re going to do.
- While the bacon cooks, make the dressing, prep the croutons, cut the zucchini, and slice the avocado.
- As the croutons bake, cook the chicken and the zucchini
- While the bacon, croutons and chicken cook, whip up the dressing in the blender.
- Let the chicken rest, cut the zucchini.
- Toss the dressing with the sprouts, warm zucchini, half the croutons and bacon.
- Top the salad with sliced warm chicken, sliced avocado, and the rest of the croutons.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Use fresh tarragon in place of dried.
- Swap out chicken for plump shrimp.
- If you don’t want to make your own croutons, buy store-bought. No shame here!
- Add in more veggies! Asparagus and green beans would be great.
- Don’t overdress! The worst thing you can do when making is salad is to overdress it. Start out by adding a little bit, tossing, tasting, and then adding more as you go. Remember, you can always add more, but you can’t take it away.
Other hearty salads you’ll love
- Our Chicken Larb Salad is a salad take on a classic. We take ground chicken and toss it with lemongrass and fish sauce – so delicious.
- This Chopped Chickpea Veggie Salad is a favorite at our house, and I love that it’s vegetarian.
- If you’re feeling something Asian, our Thai Peanut Chicken Salad is another protein-packed, seriously flavorful salad we can’t get enough of.
Pretty things/tools used in today’s post:
- 4 slices thick-cut bacon
- 4.5 ounces pretzel bread (I used 1 pretzel stick from Trader Joe's), cut into 1/2 inch squares
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder, divided
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
- 1 lb chicken breasts or (2 large cut in half lengthwise or 4 small)
- 1 medium zucchini, cut in half length wise
- 1/2 large avocado, peeled and seed removed
- 1 10 oz bag shaved Brussels sprouts (I get mine from Trader Joe's)
Avocado Green Goddess Dressing
- 1/2 large avocado, peeled and seed removed
- 2 tbsp plain yogurt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp agave or honey
- 1/2 tsp dried tarragon
- 1/4 cup cilantro
- 1/4 tsp salt
- pinch black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Line bacon up on sheet pan and bake until crisp, about 10-12 minutes. While the bacon cooks, make the dressing.
- For the dressing: Add avocado, yogurt, olive oil, water, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, agave, tarragon, cilantro, salt and pepper to the bottom of a food processor. Turn on and blend until smooth, you may need to stop once or twice to scrape the sides down with a rubber spatula. If you like a thinner consistency, add a little bit more water. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour into a dish and set aside.
- Once the bacon is done cooking, remove and drain on a paper towel, but reserve grease. Reduce heat on the oven to 350 degrees. Add bread cubes to a large bowl. Use 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease to drizzle on top of the bread along with 1 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss until the grease has evenly coated the bread cubes. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss to evenly coat. Remove foil from baking sheet and spread bread cubes on the clean pan. Bake 12-15 minutes, tossing halfway through until bread is toasted and golden brown.
- While the croutons cook, cook the chicken and zucchini. Coat chicken and zucchini with remaining olive oil. Sprinkle both sides of chicken breasts evenly with 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and a little bit of black pepper. Season zucchini on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat a grill, grill pan or large sauté pan to a medium heat. Once hot, add chicken and zucchini. Cook until brown on both sides and cooked through, about 5-6 minutes per side. (Remember, you should have either small chicken breasts or very thinly sliced chicken breasts, so they cook relatively fast.)
- Once chicken and zucchini are done cooking, let them rest for a few minutes. Slice chicken, zucchini and bacon.
- To assemble: Toss brussels sprouts, bacon, zucchini, and half of the croutons together with dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top the salad with sliced chicken, sliced avocado and remaining croutons. Serve immediately.