I’ve been dragging my feet with you folks. It’s time to bring up coconut bacon. Although I can’t recall when or when I first tried coconut bacon, I do remember being amazed by how much it resembles regular bacon. (You do realize that I have a serious weakness for bacon?) Once baked, the flavorful mixture of maple syrup, tamari soy sauce, Liquid Smoke, and toothsome coconut flakes becomes vegan “bacon.” I honestly only endorse it as a “meat substitute.” Batch after batch, I’ve been honing my coconut bacon for the past year, and I believe I’ve finally nailed it.
I whipped together a kale salad with tahini dressing (like this one) in the late summer after preparing a test batch of coconut bacon. I then added some gorgeous slices of ripe tomato and a handful of coconut bacon. Wow, that was good. It was so delicious that I wrote “Holy moly raw kale BLT salad with garlicky lemon tahini, coconut bacon, and heirloom tomato” on my list of recipe ideas.
Then, the previous week, my friend Alissa sent me home with a few stunning heirloom tomatoes that she had just picked from her backyard garden. When I got home, I was considering what to make for this week’s recipe and accidentally reached for some spices in my pantry. At that moment, a bag of coconut bacon tipped over and landed on the counter, landing on my head. In my small tiny kitchen, things frequently fall out of the cabinets or refrigerator. But this time, it was a fateful fall, and now we have a raw kale BLT salad, holy moly.
Also read: Kale, Clementine and Feta Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing
Although some of the components in this salad are a little out of the ordinary and could necessitate a trip to the health food shop, I am certain the dish will be worth your time. Although the ingredients of Liquid Smoke may make it look like a toxic substance, they are simply water, vinegar, molasses, caramel color, and salt with a natural hickory smoke flavor. Very good.
Sesame seed paste known as tahini is typically located in the peanut butter section or at Middle Eastern supermarket stores. A widely accessible type of Japanese soy sauce is tamari. I adore the flavor, plus it’s gluten-free. Miso is optional, but it gives the dressing an unfathomable depth of flavor. Coconut flakes ought to be available in the baking section of health food stores or well-stocked supermarkets. Purchase large unsweetened coconut flakes rather than the little shredded variety that is typically used in baked goods.
Everything that goes well with bacon, including pan-fried morning potatoes, omelets, anything cheesy, salads, and possibly spaghetti, goes well with this crispy coconut bacon. I should give that a shot. Please let me know what you think.
- 1 bunch kale
- 2 or more large heirloom tomatoes, cored and sliced into wedges
- 2 cups worth of whole grain bread, sliced or torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- sea salt
- 3 cups large, unsweetened coconut flakes (not regular shredded coconut!)
- 3 tablespoons reduced sodium tamari soy sauce
- 2 ½ tablespoons Liquid Smoke
- 1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
- ¼ cup tahini
- 1 small lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon white miso (optional)
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 1 ½ teaspoons maple syrup
- Dash of salt
- ⅓ cup water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with racks in the top and middle positions. Make the coconut bacon: line a half sheet pan or large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Drizzle the coconut flakes with tamari, Liquid Smoke and maple syrup and mix well. Spread the flakes into an even layer on the parchment paper. Bake on the middle rack for 12 to 14 minutes, flipping halfway, until flakes are mostly dry. They will continue to crisp up as they cool.
- Make the croutons: toss the bread pieces with 1 tablespoon olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Spread in a single layer on a lined baking baking sheet and bake on the top rack for up to 15 minutes, tossing halfway, until the croutons are crisp and turning golden on the edges.
- Make the dressing: whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, miso, garlic, maple syrup and a dash of sea salt. Then whisk in ⅓ cup water.
- Prepare the kale: use a chef’s knife to remove the tough ribs from the kale, then discard them. Chop the kale leaves into small, bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle the kale with a dash of sea salt and use your hands to massage the kale by scrunching up the leaves in your hands and releasing until the kale is a darker green and fragrant.
- Drizzle the kale with enough dressing to lightly coat the greens and toss well. Add the sliced tomatoes, croutons, and a couple handfuls of coconut bacon. Toss and serve.
- Coconut bacon recipe adapted from VegWeb.
- Yields 2 large salads or 4 side salads.
- Leftover salad components are best stored separately, as the croutons will get soggy under the dressing and the tomatoes will get mealy in the refrigerator.
- Store leftover coconut bacon in a freezer-safe bag in the freezer. It should keep for several months!