This sunflower crunch salad combines crunchy cabbage with kale, broccoli and chickpeas all tossed with a creamy SunButter dressing. This post is sponsored by SunButter.
Salad season is here and I’ve been on a mission to find tasty salads that I can meal prep for the week and this sunflower crunch salad totally fits the bill!
It’s inspired by the bagged sunflower crunch salads you can purchase at the store, but this version is even better, in my opinion.
It’s jam-packed with fresh veggies, healthy fats, plant-based protein and offers up its own kick with a Thai-inspired SunButter dressing, which is definitely the star of this recipe. Trust me, you’ll want to lick it straight off the spoon – it’s addictive!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
It’s packed with a variety of colorful vegetables and loaded with a combination of flavors and textures.
It’s crunchy and hearty so it holds up well to the dressing and can meal prepped ahead of time for the week.
It’s filling enough to be served on its own for lunch or dinner, but it also makes a great side salad.
Simple to assemble. All you have to do is chop the veggies (or buy them pre-chopped), prep the dressing and toss all the ingredients together to combine!
kale – kale is such a superfood! It’s packed with nutrients like vitamins A, C and K and low in calories. I use curly kale for this salad because the dressing sticks to all the crevices, but you could also use lacinato (dinosaur) kale.
cabbage – a mix of red and green cabbage give this salad the perfect amount of crunch and the red cabbage adds a nice pop of color. Plus cabbage is rich in antioxidants and full of vitamins and fiber.
carrots – carrots are full of vitamin A, add a sweet crunch and another pop of color.
broccoli – for more crunch, color and nutrition.
cilantro – this herb gives the salad a refreshing little kick of flavor.
green onions – sliced for a little more flavor and added texture.
chickpeas – this adds some additional plant-based protein. For ease, I use canned chickpeas (drained and rinsed) in this recipe.
sunflower seeds – raw or roasted and salted sunflower seeds work. They add a nice crunch and some more healthy fats and plant-based protein to the salad.
dried cranberries – the chewy, sweet-tartness of dried cranberries adds another layer of flavor and texture to the salad. Pro tip: look for dried cranberries that are just sweetened with fruit juice.
dressing – the dressing for this salad is a sweet, salty, slightly spicy combo of SunButter, lemon juice, tamari (or soy sauce), maple syrup (or honey), sesame oil, sambal oelek or sriracha, ginger and garlic.
How to Make Sunflower Crunch Salad
Once your dressing is made and veggies are chopped this salad comes together in a matter of minutes!
Make dressing: Place all ingredients for the dressing into a blender and blend until creamy and smooth. If the texture is too thick for you add a little water (starting with 1-2 teaspoons) up to 3 tablespoons to thin it out.
Prepare salad: Place kale, cabbage, carrots, bell pepper, cilantro, green onions and chickpeas into a large bowl. Toss or stir to combine. Add sunflower seeds and pour over the top with dressing.
The star of this salad is the creamy SunButter dressing. The nuttiness from SunButter, tartness from lemon juice, saltiness from tamari, sweetness from maple syrup and added spice from sambal oelek, ginger and garlic combine to make a spectacular, Thai-inspired topping.
The main ingredient in the dressing is SunButter, which is made from roasted and ground sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals including Vitamin E, copper, manganese and selenium. Sunflower seed butter contains 7 grams of plant-based protein per serving and more vitamins and minerals than most nut butters!
SunButter is a great substitute for peanut butter (or any nut butter) in recipes. It’s totally free from the top 8 food allergies in the US: peanuts, tree nuts, soy, milk, eggs, wheat, fish and crustacean shellfish.
Customize Your Salad
Use different veggies – have different veggies on hand? Chop them up and toss them in!
Add grains – I love adding grains to my salad for some extra volume and nutrients. Toss in cooked quinoa, rice or farro to make this a heartier salad.
Swap the beans – don’t have chickpeas on hand? Swap them with another white bean, black beans or lentils.
Add bacon – oftentimes sunflower crunch salad will have bacon included. I left it out to keep this salad vegetarian and plant-based but you could totally added cooked traditional pork or turkey bacon, coconut bacon or tempeh bacon for more umami flavor.
On its own for a light lunch. This salad is definitely a meal on its own thanks to the chickpeas and sunflower seeds.
To make it in advance: If you’re making this as a meal prep salad I recommend adding all the veggies, chickpeas and cranberries to an airtight container. Store the Sunbutter dressing in a separate container. When you’re ready to serve, add the sunflower seeds, drizzle the dressing over and mix to combine.
To store leftovers: Store any leftovers in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.
Blend all ingredients together in a high-speed blender.
Add kale, cabbage, carrots, broccoli, cilantro, green onions, chickpeas and dried cranberries into a large bowl. Toss to combine. Add sunflower seeds and top with dressing. Mix until all ingredients are well coated.