This vegan kale Cobb salad is a hearty main course with seriously flavourful add-ins like smoky almond “bacon” bits, homemade red wine vinaigrette, chickpeas, avocado, crunchy vegetables, and crumbled vegan cheese.
I love a hearty, composed salad when the temperatures rise! It’s just refreshing and nice. This vegan kale cobb salad is exactly what I want to eat every day for lunch. The red wine vinaigrette and sliced almond “bacon” bits are so delicious on their own, and would fit in nicely with lots of other dishes that you might find yourself cooking up.
Aside from the vegan aspect and the kale base, I went fairly traditional here! I kept the tomatoes, avocado, and red wine vinaigrette. You can read about the history of the Cobb salad and its origins at the Brown Derby restaurant here. Our version is still in the spirit of the Cobb salad, but it’s definitely not the same thing. Just inspired with a few vegan-friendly twists.
I wanted to make some coconut bacon for this, but I’m having a hard time sourcing the large flakes of coconut in my area. So I worked off of this recipe, using sliced almonds instead. I think I like it better! The almonds are crunchier and they just work well here.
More Main Course Salads:
- Vegan BLT Salad with Lemon Pepper Dressing & Grilled Peaches
- Napa and Kale Slaw with Crunchy BBQ Cauliflower & Pickled Jalapeño Ranch
- Our Favourite Picnic Salad
- Fresh Taco Salad with Creamy Avocado Lime Dressing
- Grilled Asparagus & French Lentil Niçoise-Inspired Salad
Some key ingredients in this salad: smoked paprika gives our dressing and almond “bacon” bits that boost of flavour. Vegan Worcestershire factors into our dressing to add lots of umami. I like this one by Lord Sandy’s. The vegan cheese is up to you! I like to use one that crumbles nicely. The Herbes de Provence & Oignons bûchette by VegNature is my go-to for summery salads like this.
If you would like to make this nut-free, I have a link to my classic coconut bacon method in the recipe notes. You would also need to double check that your vegan cheese is nut-free.
Vegan Kale Cobb Salad
Vegan Almond “Bacon” Bits
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 teaspoons avocado oil
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon tamari soy sauce
- 1-2 drops liquid smoke (optional)
Red Wine Vinaigrette (makes extra)
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated with a Microplane
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
- 1 teaspoon vegan Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon maple syrup
- ½ cup avocado or other neutral-tasting oil
- 4 cups chopped kale, packed (about 110 grams total)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 small red onion, sliced into thin half moons
- 1 small cucumber, sliced
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 small avocado, pitted, peeled & sliced
- 2 oz vegan cheese of choice, crumbled
- To make this salad nut-free, substitute the almond “bacon” with my coconut “bacon” recipe! Find it here.
- I use Lord Sandy’s vegetarian Worcestershire sauce.
- My favourite vegan cheese for crumbling onto a salad like this is by VegNature, which is a Canadian brand.
- I really recommend massaging the kale with the dressing for at least a minute. It tenderizes the leaves and eliminates some of that bitter flavour that kale has sometimes.
Make the almond “bacon” bits.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the almonds on top of the parchment. In a small bowl, whisk together the smoked paprika, onion powder, salt, avocado oil, maple syrup, tamari, and liquid smoke (if using). Once combined, pour the mixture over the almonds and toss thoroughly to coat. Spread the coated almonds out in a single layer and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until deep golden brown, stirring the almonds at the halfway mark.
- Let the almonds cool thoroughly. They will crisp up as they cool. Set aside.
Make the red wine vinaigrette.
- In a sealable jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the red wine vinegar, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, garlic, thyme, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard, maple syrup, and avocado oil. Close the lid on top and give it a good shake. Taste the dressing and adjust seasoning if necessary. Set aside.
Make the salad.
- Transfer kale to a large bowl. Pour about half of the dressing on top of the kale and season generously with salt and pepper. Massage the dressing into the kale for at least a minute, or until the leaves feel a bit more tender.
- Transfer the dressed kale to your serving platter. Top the kale with the almond “bacon” bits, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, chickpeas, avocado, and vegan cheese. Spoon a bit more dressing over the chopped vegetables, chickpeas, and avocado. Give the top of the salad one more sprinkle with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.