BLT Salad

BLT Salad

This salad isn’t exactly… healthy. What it is, exactly, is delicious. And it has a surprise. There’s no lettuce. The greens are baby spinach, and raw kale.

Stay with me, here!

Yes, I said raw kale. I know you are thinking that I have finally gone off the vegan deep end. But I swear, the water is nice!

You can eat raw kale, too, if you pay attention to these three things: the kind, the cut, and the preparation. Follow these three steps and I swear you’ll be eating your kale raw and loving it.

The first step is finding the right kind of kale. Lacinato kale is perfectly suited to eating raw. I find that it’s thinner and more tender than the other varieties, but sadly, it’s not nearly as common. Look for long, thin, flat leaves that are slightly dimpled.

Lacinato Kale

It’s not always obvious what the best cut is for a certain dish. Small, thin strips of kale is integral for this salad, or any meal where the kale is served raw or lightly cooked. When the kale is cut this way, the dressing has a much easier time tenderizing the kale without having to cook it. Larger pieces of kale would be much harder to eat.

With regular lettuce, you wait to add the dressing until just before serving. Otherwise the salt and acid in the dressing starts to break down the fresh, crisp greens, leaving you with a soggy mess. With a kale salad, this is to your advantage! Dress the salad ahead of time and refrigerate it for a bit. The dressing will soften up the kale just the right amount. Plus, the addition of a creamy dressing compliments kale’s flavors nicely.

BLT Salad

There are many fake bacon products out there. My favorite is what I’ve used in this recipe, Lightlife’s Smoky Tempeh Strips. While the package says “Fakin’ Bacon” I find that it’s not at all like what I remember of the real thing, but I still like it. It’s smoky and salty and tangy, and it’s AWESOME in this salad (or on sandwiches). But as awesome as it is, bacon it is not. If you’re looking for something that more closely approximates the texture and flavor of bacon, there are probably other brands out there, but I haven’t found one that I like.

One last note: due to the sturdy nature of kale, this is the perfect picnic and pot luck salad. You can throw it together ahead of time and it’ll be perky and crisp when you get around to serving it. If you’re looking for a side dish that can stand up to summer entertaining, this recipe is a good bet.

BLT Salad
4-6 Side Salads

1 Head Lacinato Kale (aka Tuscan or Dinosaur Kale)*
1 Package Lightelife Organic Smoky Tempeh Strips**
2 Tbs Peanut Oil, divided
1 to 1 1/2 Cups Baby Spinach, Packed
1 to 1 1/2 Cups Sweet Cherry Tomatoes (about 25)

1/4 Cup Vegenaise Mayo
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Lemon Juice
2 tsp Agave Nectar
Freshly Ground Black Pepper

*You can also use regular lettuce if you like, just make sure not to add the dressing until just before serving.

**Sub baked tofu, another mock bacon, or my Smoky Miso Tofu.

Wash and dry kale. Using kitchen shears (or a knife, or your fingers), remove and discard the center stem from each leaf. I find scissors makes the job quick and easy:

Deveining Kale

Stack the kale leaves on top of each other and slice into thin strips with a sharp knife:

Chopping Kale

Place the cut kale into a large bowl. Whisk the dressing together and toss with the kale until evenly coated. If you are using regular lettuce, keep the dressing separate until just before serving. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, longer is no problem.

Meanwhile, prepare the “bacon.” Slice the tempeh strips into thin, small pieces, and pan-fry in 1 Tbs peanut oil for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp on the edges. Drain on a paper towel and set aside:

Fakin' Bacon (tempeh)

Next, add another tablespoon of peanut oil to the same pan you cooked the bacon in (don’t wash it out!). Cook the tomatoes with 1/4 tsp salt for 3 minutes over high heat, or until beginning to soften and the juices are starting to come out. Remove to a bowl, with juices, and set aside.

Assembling the salad

Once you are ready to serve the salad, chop up the baby spinach and toss it with the kale, making sure everything is now covered in dressing. If you are using regular lettuce, mix in the dressing now. Add 3/4 of the bacon and the tomatoes and toss again. Plate, topping the salad with the rest of the bacon and some freshly cracked black pepper. Serve.

BLT Salad


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  3. emfole

    hey i made yr mac and cheese before and just came back for something else- Just finished eating this salad- genius! thanks so much! gorgeous photos too :)

  4. Deb H.

    Fantastic!!!! I just made this for dinner tonight, and it was every bit as delicious as I’d hoped. I can’t wait to make this again. Thank you so much for sharing this deliciousness with us.

  5. Carrie

    I can’t tell you how excited I am about this recipe! I thought that in order to receive the health benefits of eating raw kale, I would be forced to drown little pieces in fruit smoothies for the rest of my life. But this worked very well!!! The dressing really did soften it a bit. I even refrigerated some of it overnight, and it was still great the next day! (not soggy)

    I would also consider this very healthy. Even with all the added [plant] fat from the veganaise. Let’s face it, vegans are somewhat lacking in the fat department anyway- bring it on!

    Thank you so much for this recipe!

  6. Cicada

    Mother of God. I just made this, and it’s the best thing I’ve eaten all summer. I’m probably going to eat it all tonight, and I don’t even care that that means I’m going to eat a quarter cup of Vegenaise tonight.

  7. Silent Stylist

    I ran into the Lacinato kale yesterday at the market and I made the salad this morning and just had the first bite for lunch. It is soooo good!!!. You’re recipes are vegan Godsends. Kudos.

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  9. Christina Blue

    This recipe is the shit. I have been making it every other week since you first posted it. It absolutely satisfies my craving for bacon wilted spinach salads. Since I’m southern, I do make a little more dressing than called for, and I ad mushrooms in with the cherry tomatoes. It may not be super healthy but I still think it’s a great way to eat some hearty greens! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Lynn Stewart

    I just bought the third to last copy of your book at … whoo hoo, can’t wait for it to arrive. You have an amazing blog! Love your photography and recipes.

    The kale you use here I just bought yesterday at my local farmer’s market in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada. I used in it my green smoothie this morning and that was good … but now I’m off to try it in a salad! Thanks for the hints on using it.

  11. Ratsofritz

    This salad is so yummy and very easy to prepare. I love that you can put the dressing on the kale well before you serve it. Thank you for another great recipe!

  12. Claire G

    re: bacon alternatives

    A farm down here makes and sells Smoke-Dried Tomatoes. They are so unbelievably bacon-y! I put them in almost any dish where I need a smokey/chewy flavor, and they never disappoint. They’re smoked Romas, and can be bought dried or oil-packed.

    For something like this recipe, I’d probably use the oil packed, drained well, and then chopped into small pieces. They’re very intense flavor-wise, so smaller pieces are better!

    Of course, now I see that they don’t have any to sell this year because of the earth-killing drought we’ve been suffering through, but keep them in mind for next year!

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  14. laurel o

    This is about the vegan yum yum app.

    I was really excited about it, but it killed my iPod, I had to restore it to factory settings and reload all my other songs and apps onto it. I really love your blog, you might want to stop offering the app until the bugs are worked out, I’d love a copy of it when it’s fixed.


    laurel o

  15. Ariella

    Ohhhh my. This salad looks awesome, and your website is to-die-for beautiful. Congratulations on your cookbook, I can’t wait to check it out. As far as raw kale goes, yes thin thin thin. I first discovered how thin kate needs to be when I went to a little brazilian hole-in-the wall in Somerville, across from Market basket and saw how they do their Kale Salad. It’s all in the chopping.

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  19. Penny

    Thank you for more kale ideas!
    I eat raw kale for breakfast every morning in a shake. Just blend kale, oatmeal (uncooked), peanut butter, and rice or soymilk. That’s the basic mix, but I add bee pollen, flaxseed, and raw honey sometimes too. Also I substitute almond butter instead of peanut butter.

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  30. braelin

    I am SOOOO glad that you are back and posting that I had to tell you how much I love this salad. I made it the first time last weekend and I’m about to make it again. Thank you, thank you!

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