Made with kale, tomatoes, avocado, tempeh bacon, and a creamy tahini dressing, this vegan BLT salad is hearty enough for a meal, but it also makes a great side dish. This salad has all of the flavors of your favorite sandwich in a cozy bowl. This easy recipe is dairy-free with a gluten-free option.
Vegan Kale BLT Salad
This recipe was inspired by a non-vegan kale salad. A few years ago, I came across two different recipes for kale salad with warm bacon vinaigrette in two different magazines. Of course, they were omnivore recipes made with meat, but since I love both kale and tempeh bacon, I set about combining the two recipes while veganizing them.
As I was preparing the dish, it occurred to me that a creamy dressing would be so much nicer than a vinaigrette. I prefer creamy dressings as they tend to make salads heartier, and because they have a richness that other dressings just don’t have. Vinaigrettes are nice, but if I have to chose, I'm always going to pick something creamier.
So, I put away the red wine vinegar and pulled out a jar of tahini. While I do have several salad dressing recipes that are made with cashews or silken tofu, nothing really beats the flavor of tahini. I added a little mustard and some apple cider vinegar poured the mixture over my salad.
After a few bites, I realized that was kind of like a BLT in salad form. Of course, it’s made with kale instead of lettuce, and I added a little purple cabbage for color. And I added avocado, but I tend to avocado to my BLT sandwiches, anyway. I guess this could be called a BLAT salad. Or maybe BKAT salad, but that doesn’t really roll off the tongue very nicely.
I used my own homemade tempeh bacon here, but store bought will work just as well. I like Lightlife's tempeh bacon. If you prefer seitan, try Upton's Natural's bacon.
This salad uses about needed about half of my homemade tempeh recipe. If you’re using packaged vegan, you might only need about half the package or so. Don’t go too crazy with the measurements here. Since it’s a salad, you can eye-ball it.
What You Need
You only need a few ingredients to make this recipe.
- Dijon mustard
- Apple cider vinegar
- Garlic powder
- Sea salt
- Tuscan kale
- Purple cabbage
- Cherry tomatoes
- Neutral-flavored oil
- Tempeh bacon
See the recipe card for exact measurements.
How to make a Vegan BLT Salad
This salad is super easy to make!
- First, you mix together the dressing ingredients.
- Then, you massage half of the dressing into the kale. You can add the cabbage to the salad after the kale has begun to wilt a little.
- Next, you heat the tomatoes up to warm them a little. Once they’ve browned slightly, they can be added to the kale mixture.
- Finally, you heat up the tempeh bacon, scallions, and garlic. And then add them to the salad.
- Pour the rest of the dressing onto the salad, and you’re done!
How to Massage Kale
Kale is easier to chew when it's "massaged." No, you don't need to put on soft music and lower the lights, you just need to rub a little dressing into it to make it easier to chew. Massaging the kale will help make it softer. Be careful not to over massage it, or it will wilt.
The best way to soften kale is with an acid The apple cider vinegar in this salad dressing is acidic, so it will help to break down the kale’s tough fibers. Just pour on about half of the dressing, wash your hands, roll up your sleeves, and get massaging!
If you follow a gluten-free diet, make sure your tempeh bacon is gluten-free.
Instead of Tuscan kale, you can use curly kale, romaine lettuce, or green leaf lettuce. If you're using lettuce, you don't need to massage the dressing into the greens.
If you’re in a rush and want your salad NOW, you can skip the cooking parts and just toss some tomatoes and scallions into your salad, but I would suggest heating the tempeh bacon. I’d skip the garlic, as raw garlic in a salad isn’t too appetizing.
If your tahini is on the thicker side, you may need to use more water than the ¼ cup I've specified her. Some tahinis are thicker than others, and tahini-based dressings tend to thicken up as they sit. Start with ¼ cup and then add more, a tablespoon at a time, if needed.
I like to use whole-grain Dijon mustard in my dressing, but regular Dijon will do nicely, too.
Serving Your BLT Salad
I love to have this salad for lunch, but it makes a great light supper, too. It’s also a nice side dish or starter. This salad will serve 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish.
Vegan BLT Salad
For the Dressing
- ¼ cup tahini
- ¼ cup water (more, if needed)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (I used whole grain mustard)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
For the Salad
- 1 large bunch Tuscan kale stems removed, chopped (about 10 ounces or 6 cups)
- 1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage
- 1 avocado diced
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- ½ teaspoon neutral-flavored vegetable oil
- 2 scallions sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup tempeh bacon chopped
- In a small bowl, mix together the tahini, water, mustard, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, and sea salt until smooth and creamy.
- Place the chopped kale into a large bowl. Add half of the tahini dressing and massage until the kale begins to wild. Add the cabbage and avocado to the bowl and toss to combine.
- Place medium-sized pan over medium heat. Add the tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes, or until they begin to brown and wither. Remove the tomatoes from the pan and toss them into the salad.
- Add the oil to the pan along with the scallions, garlic, and chopped tempeh bacon. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the garlic and scallions have begun to brown slightly and are fragrant.
- Add the tempeh to the salad and toss everything together. Drizzle on the rest of the salad dressing.
- Divide among four bowls and serve while the tempeh bacon is still warm
If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like:
- Reuben Salad
- Tahini Kale Salad with Garlicky Chickpeas
- Kale Caesar Salad with Roasted Chickpeas
- Kale and Edamame with Lemon Herb Dressing
For a Shabbat lunch we would need to serve this at room temperature. We would not be able to have the ingredients freshly heated. We would cook on Friday afternoon and hold the cooked ingredients covered but a room temperature. Would this work? Would it be better to substitute a different vegan "bacon?"
Hi Ruchama, I wouldn’t recommend leaving any cooked food out at room temperature for that long. Cooked food shouldn’t sit at room temperature for longer than 2 hours, as bacteria can grow quickly, and the food may be unsafe to eat.