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


  1. Melissa Crowe

    Only a vegan would call a salad containing tempeh, kale, and spinach unhealthy. ;-) I know what you mean–it’s the veganaise, but still, I’d say anything with this kind of greens load is good for you! Can’t wait to try it.

  2. Andrea

    I love kale in salad and my favorite kind is red Russian kale. This looks like just the thing to take to a potluck this weekend. I was going to make brownies but this looks better! Just don’t tell anyone who will be there.

  3. Kip

    mmm one of my favourite winter seasonal foods here in the UK is cavalo nero. Makes me drool just thinking about it! The salad looks divine.

  4. Taymer Caribbean Vegan Dishes

    What a beautiful salad. I wouldn’t call it unhealthy but I know what you mean. I just had kale for the first time last 2 months and I loved it. Thanks for the tutorial on preparing the kale. You have nice kitchen knives. People think because I am vegan means I do not need nice sharp knives!

  5. Louise

    This looks delicious and a perfect summer meal if I throw in some tofu or maybe even chickpeas for more substance. I’m always kinda weirded out about eating kale raw though. Doesn’t it have stuff that only cooking can break down?

    Oh yeah, i was going to comment to say “Tuck your fingers in!” In the picture with you chopping kale with the knife, I flinched just thinking about the fingertips that could be accidentally knicked.

  6. foodsnob

    so excited to make this! been getting loads of kale from the Farmer’s Market and all it’s many varieties…this is just one more way to rock it out.

  7. delaïdo

    I’d never thought about the fact that you can add dressing to kale long in advance and it enhances the salad. I’ve been trained by lettuce that dressing is only added right before serving, so I need to rethink it! I do like to eat kale with dressing, but I usually steam it for 5 minutes first.

  8. Clea

    I have another kale tip– not sure how exactly this works, but if you chop (or tear) your kale into bite-sized pieces (after washing, of course) and marinate it in your dressing, really squeezing it and “massaging” it for about 5 minutes, it tastes amazing. And even better the next day. I usually use olive oil and lemon juice– pretty sure a fat and an acid are essential to this process, but you could always experiment! Massaged kale: TRULY the deep end.

  9. Cindy

    Hmmm….I guess I’m the only one that doesn’t mind raw kale? My husband and I will eat regular curly green and red kale in a salad raw. Plus, we use it instead of lettuce on our veggie burgers. I think it adds texture and a yummy taste. I am definitely making this!

  10. zoe

    Gorgeous salad. The kale and spinach are an interesting combination. I bet it could this salad could be cooked and served as a hot side dish as well.

  11. Don't Get Mad, Get Vegan!

    I just made this for dinner. AMAZING! I knew when I saw your post I would head straight to the market and get some kale and some Tempeh.

    Normally, raw kale is not my thing. I made the dressing and let it sit with the kale for a couple hours and then dug in for dinner.
    WOW! I have a new favorite salad!

    thanks so much for sharing!

  12. Francesca

    Funny-I was told lightlife stopped making their smoky tempeh strips by my favorite health food store…is that not true? I hope they still do if you’re buying it because it was my favorite.

  13. Leigh

    I just made this with a couple of adjustments-
    I lightly sauteed the spinach and added avocado.
    This is the best salad I’ve had in my entire life.
    Thank you!!

  14. Karen

    That definitely earns three yum-yums in my book! I’m going to try it out on some of my vegan clients, too. Thanks – your blog is full of great images and ideas.

  15. Koko

    This looks divine- unhealthy or not!

    I recently tried your sweet chili lime tofu dish and it was sooooo delicious! I linked to your site on my blog, of course =)

  16. Amir

    I like the idea of using kale instead of lettuce, since it’s so much cheaper and sometimes even tastier too…have to try something like this soon!

  17. DJ

    My mouth is watering at that picture of tempeh bacon strips – and of course, it makes perfect sense to use raw kale!!!

  18. myrecessionkitchen

    Your recipe comes at the perfect time, I have a yard full of kale and spinach, which I prefer to eat it raw. Lifelife bacon tempeh is one of my most favorite proteins. I made this for dinner tonight, very yum!

  19. Scootabaker

    oh my god! I need to make this! I used to eat BLT’s back in the day, but, of course, now that’s not an option, but this makes my stomach growl. I don’t care if it’s not healthy. Everything I bake at home isn’t healthy. Whose watching? ha!


  20. Hundewanderer

    I came here via bakerella’s site. Your recipes and photos make vegetarianism look really wonderful! I also watched your Martha Stewart video clip, you are tiny and adorable. Thank you for taking the time and effort to share your world with me.

  21. Heidi

    I love kale! In fact I love it so much that I ate a ton of it for dinner a few years back. Then I happily nursed my new baby girl. When I called the nurse at 2am to see why my tiny daughter was screaming her head off, she asked me what I’d eaten. Who knew kale, beautiful, healthy kale could produce gas in nursing babies? Oh well, she survived and is now a thriving teeny bopper and now I can eat as much kale as I please. So BLT Salad here I come!

  22. Andrea

    Luciano Kale looks like what is also called Dinosaur kale in some stores. Also, you can “massage” kale with the oil to soften it. Just make sure your hands are clean and then massage the oil into the kale. It is a great technique which I use with avocado, kale, salt and lemon juice for different kinds of kale salads.

  23. Maka

    This sounds delicious. I will give a try soon! In the meantime, do you have a recipe for marshmallows handy? I can’t find one anywhere. Thanks in advance!

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