While cooking, listen to this: Hella Good by No Doubt
I don't like bacon. There, I said it. I'm often approached by outraged and baffled friends and strangers who can't believe I don't like bacon. Usually, this is followed by the accusation that I'm a religious Jew, as if that somehow explains it.
The truth is, I simply don't like the taste. It's no secret that I'm the meat-eater of this blog duo, but when it comes to smoky meat, specifically pork, I didn't grow up eating it and therefore don't like the way it tastes. Sorry, folks.
This faux bacon, though, is on another level. It looks like granola and tastes like a vegan dream come true. I swear, it'll have even your most staunchly committed meat eater doubting themselves. And while I don't encourage self-doubt, this coconut bacon is the exception to the rule. I think the reason I love it so much is because it has a slight sweetness too it, keeping the typically overwhelming saltiness that accompanies bacon at bay.
This week, in my CSA (which I've previously obsessed about here), I got a huge bunch of beets. An often controversial vegetable, I'm a huge fan of beets, usually opting for "extra beets" when available. This cobb salad was brilliantly smuggled into last week's recipe plan. As usual, I was doubtful of how much could be achieved in a Cobb salad that lacked the trifecta of bacon-blue cheese-hard boiled egg. As usual, Rina proved me wrong, whipping up a salad that I can only accurately call magical. Filled to the brim with flavor and some of my favorite ingredients, I was practically drooling at first glance.
This salad is the perfect way to round out your end-of-summer meals. Fall will soon be upon us (no one is as excited as I am about this news), and our produce options will gradually dwindle to potatoes and...well, more potatoes. Not that there's anything wrong with potatoes, but I know come winter, I'll be dreaming about the fresh ingredients from this salad, and compromising with tomatoes from Ecuador and avocados from Mexico - two countries with much better December weather.
So, I say, haggle with your most beloved meat-eater until they agree to this salad for dinner and get cooking. The beets can be made in advance (as can the coconut bacon) so that come the busy post-work rush when you think you have more time in the evenings than you really do, you'll be all set to throw this salad together. Worst case scenario, your beloved meat-eater refuses (still outraged by the fact that you don't like bacon) and you get the entire plate of deliciousness for yourself, with some leftovers to spare for tomorrow's lunch.
You know what they say - if you can't beet 'em join 'em.
VEGAN RAINBOW COBB SALAD
Inactive Cook Time: 1h to 2h, depending on beet size | Active Cook Time: 10m
Category: Salads, Vegan
For the coconut bacon:
2 cups large-flake unsweetened coconut
1 Tablespoon neutral oil, like avocado or grapeseed
2 Tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
½ teaspoon liquid smoke (easy to find online)
Pinch of sea salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
For the salad:
One head romaine lettuce
½ cup large-dice tomatoes
3 large or 8 small beets*
½ cup chickpeas
1 avocado, diced
For the dressing:
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
Roast the beets: preheat the oven to 475 F. Scrub each beet and wrap individually in foil - no need to peel! Place all of the foil-wrapped beets in a large baking dish and place in the oven. Small beets will take about 1 hour, large beets can take up to 2 hours. The beets are cooked through when they can be easily pierced with a knife. When the beets are done cooking, allow them to cool for a few minutes, then unwrap them. Let them cool down until they're okay to handle, and then peel them - it should be super easy now. Cut them into wedges or a large dice, depending on their size.
Prepare the coconut bacon: lower the oven to 325 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On the sheet, combine the coconut, oil, tamari, paprika, maple syrup, liquid smoke, salt and pepper. Stir well to evenly coat the coconut. Place on the bottom rack of the oven for 5-7 minutes. Toss, and bake for another 5-6 minutes. Check on it often, because it can go from beautiful brown to charred mess very quickly.
Prepare the salad: chop the romaine lettuce into tiny pieces - lay the romaine head down on the cutting board, cut off the end, and make a few lengthwise cuts. Continue by dicing the lettuce the way you would an onion, with small width-wise cuts. Place the chopped romaine a large plate. You can make a rainbow of your salad if you want, or you can go random. Either way, make a line out of each ingredient, creating sections. If you'd rather skip this part, simply add all of the veggies and coconut bacon into a bowl with the romaine and toss. Look to our pictures for styling ideas.
Prepare the dressing: add the red wine vinegar, oil, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper to a jar/whatever you make your dressings in and shake well.
To serve: drizzle the salad with the dressing right when you're about to eat it. Stir the salad a bit to combine the ingredients and dig in.
To keep: dressed salads do not perform at their best in the fridge. The best way to make this salad in advance is to store the veggies in one container, the coconut bacon in another, and the dressing in it's jar. The veggies should go in the fridge, the coconut bacon and dressing can stay in the pantry or countertop. When you're ready to eat, just combine all of the ingredients and go to town.
*Alyssa's CSA gave us three colors of beets, which we used in this recipe. If you can only find purple beets, no sweat! Your salad will still be gorgeous.