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 recipe has all of the flavors of your favorite sandwich in a cozy bowl.
A few months 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 since they’re lighter in texture and flavor, they seem more like a summertime dressing.
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.
If your tahini is on the thicker side, you may need to use more water than the 1/4 cup I’ve specified her. Some tahinis are thicker than others, and tahini-based dressings tend to thicken up as they sit. Start with 1/4 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.
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.
If you follow a gluten-free diet, make sure your tempeh bacon is gluten-free. I used my own homemade tempeh bacon here, but store bought will work just as well. The recipe needed about 20 slices of my homemade version, because they’re on the smaller side, but if you’re using larger, packaged slices, you might only need 10 or 15. It should come to about ½ cup. Don’t go too crazy with the measurements in this recipe. Since it’s a salad, you can eye-ball it.
I know it’s a little weird for me to post a salad recipe in the middle of February, but I do eat salads all year round. In the colder months, I like to swap my usual romaine base for heartier greens like kale or shredded brussels sprouts to make my salads heartier, and I often add cooked elements to add warmth. Trader Joe’s packages of pre-chopped kale are always a handy way to speed meal time up a little.
I’m not sure if this recipe qualifies as a “warm salad,” since only a few components are cooked, but those cooked elements do help to warm the salad, and me, up nicely. 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.
- 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!
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
- 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
- 1 large bunch Tuscan kale stems removed, chopped (about 10 ounces)
- 1 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 1 teaspoon neutral-flavored vegetable oil
- 2 scallions
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup chopped tempeh bacon
- 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
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