Vegan BLT salad with crispy coconut "bacon," tangy lemon pepper dressing, grilled peaches, and avocado - The First Mess

This post is sponsored by Mountain Rose Herbs.

The crispiest vegan coconut "bacon" ever - The First Mess Spices etc. - The First MessSalad ingredients & tangy lemon pepper dressing - The First Mess
I ate a salad similar to this vegan BLT salad last time we were in LA. It was covered in coconut “bacon” bits, had little dollops of a nut-based soft cheese, a killer dressing, grilled peaches, and a few other grilled vegetables. It was the first thing that I ate after we landed and I don’t know if it was the travel day hunger kicking in, but I inhaled that thing. I could have easily enjoyed 3 full servings, no joke. My man was eating this gorgeous, fully loaded veggie burger with sweet potato fries right across from me and I was just ALL IN on this salad.

And this was funny to me because I’ve never been too wild about coconut bacon. I had ate it in sandwiches and straight out of a bag one time, and mostly thought “meh..!” I don’t even know what drew me to order this salad to be honest. Café Gratitude’s coconut bacon was shatteringly crisp (no weirdly meaty middles) and not overly smoky. It had a bunch of other things going on flavor-wise that I appreciated. Most coconut bacon recipes have liquid smoke, which I find to be dominant and quite bitter, even in tiny amounts. This one was balanced and I almost asked for a bonus scoop of it.

If you’ve seen my kitchen, you know that I’m a bit of a spice/spice blend/fancy salt/oils etc. person. I’m grateful to be in a position where I can try a bunch of these things because I find that they really do add a lot to our meals when I’m short on time and still not even sure what we’re going to actually be eating for dinner. Also spice blends are amazing during grilling season. Sprinkle, toss, toss, fire, eat, yessssss.

I got to try a bunch of products from Mountain Rose Herbs recently and when I was going through their site making my selections, their smoked paprika, lemon pepper, and smoked Kiawe salt went straight to the top of my list (along with curry leaves, smoked peppercorns, some mesquite powder, olive oil, loose leaf tea, and a bunch of other goodies). Lemon pepper is one of those flavors from the 90’s that I never get tired of (no shame), and if you’ve been reading this site for a while, you know my love for smoked paprika. The Kiawe salt is so smoky in such a pure and pleasant way. Like a slightly cleaner campfire vibe. I knew it would be a perfect replacement for liquid smoke in this recipe.

This version of alt-bacon is so good. I ate a third of it right off the tray once it cooled. And it plays so well in a salad with juicy summer tomatoes, lightly charred peaches and a very buttermilk-esque lemon pepper dressing. This salad would be perfect for a plant-heavy barbecue. Anyway, hope you try this recipe out and that you give my pals at Mountain Rose Herbs a browse. They are uncompromising in their standards for premium quality organics and environmental stewardship. Deep respect!

Making coconut "bacon" - The First MessGrilled peaches - The First MessVegan BLT salad with crispy coconut "bacon," tangy lemon pepper dressing, grilled peaches, and avocado - The First MessVegan BLT salad with crispy coconut "bacon," tangy lemon pepper dressing, grilled peaches, and avocado - The First Mess
Print the recipe here!
NOTES: You’ll need the large flake coconut for the bacon here; rather than the fine shreds. It gets super crisp, almost like a chip and it tends to look more bacon-like. For leftover coconut bacon, cool it completely and store in a sealed jar/reusable container at room temperature. It should keep crisp for about a week. The tangy lemon pepper dressing is also excellent simply drizzled over sliced summer tomatoes with some chopped herbs and extra black pepper.

4 cups large flake coconut
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon gluten-free tamari OR coconut aminos
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons smoked salt
ground black pepper, to taste

1/3 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 4 hours and drained
2/3 cup filtered water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
sea salt, to taste

2 just-ripe peaches, halved
olive oil, for grilling
4 servings of chopped greens (I used arugula and red leaf lettuce)
sliced tomatoes
1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted & sliced

Make the coconut bacon: preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Measure the coconut flakes out onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, tamari, smoked paprika, smoked salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture over the coconut on the baking sheet. Massage the oil and spice mixture into the coconut, trying to coat every piece as evenly as possible. Spread the coconut out into a single layer.

Slide the baking sheet into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, lightly stirring the coconut up at the halfway point. The coconut bacon should be deep brown and lightly crisp on the edges. It will crisp completely as it cools.

Make the dressing: in an upright blender, combine the cashews, water, lemon juice, maple syrup, lemon pepper seasoning, and salt. Blend on high until completely smooth. It should be the consistency of half & half cream. Transfer dressing t a sealable jar and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Set a grill or grill pan to high heat. Lightly brush the peach halves with olive oil and set them, face down, on the grill. Once char marks appear and the skin is peeling away from the peach, remove from the grill.

Portion greens into 4 serving bowls. Arrange tomatoes, avocado, and grilled peaches over the greens. Drizzle the salads with the tangy lemon pepper dressing and top with plenty of coconut bacon and freshly ground black pepper. Serve the vegan BLT salad immediately.

**This post was created in partnership with Mountain Rose Herbs. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support this site.

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