I picked up the cookbook Salad Samurai by Terry Hope Romero on a whim and was quite impressed with it. I originally had no intention of taking it home as I generally don’t care for salad recipes, but quickly flipping through it changed my mind.
The pictures are pretty amazing. I’m a very visual person; I like cookbooks with high-quality color pictures because I need to some point of reference for how the food is supposed to look on the plate if I’m going to make it. The recipes in this book really go beyond what I think of as a traditional salads. Many are hearty enough to be entire meals on their own, including the BKT (Bacon, Kale, & Tomato) Bowl, which I plan on sharing here.
Many of the salad toppings, which are referenced in the front of the book, are excellent recipes for cooking tempeh and tofu and can easily be utilized in any recipe calling for similar ingredients. The book is also organized seasonally, which I think is a fun way to look at food especially if I’m buying locally grown and available produce.
This salad is comprised of 3 easy recipes (the first 2 are components of the last): coconut bacony bits, tempeh bacon bites, and the BKT Bowl. Use large coconut flakes for the coconut bacony bits. I found mine at a local co-op in bulk. Combine the tomato paste, liquid aminos, and liquid smoke and incorporate into the coconut flakes until evenly distributed.
Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 325º. Keep an eye on them towards the last 5 minutes. Mines began to brown quickly around this time. Remove from oven and let cook completely. The flakes will become more crunchy as they cool. These will be used as a topping for the salad.
Cut tempeh into bite sized pieces. Combine maple syrup, tamari, ketchup, vegetable oil, and liquid smoke and let pieces marinade for about 10 minutes. Spoon tempeh into a frying pan set to medium heat and reserve the leftover marinade for later use. Let each side cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Once golden brown all-around, pour in leftover marinade and let cook until all the liquid is absorbed.
The last part of this recipe involves making the dressing and combining all the salad components. Remove stems from the kale leaves and cut or tear into bit-sized pieces. For the dressing, mix together the shallots, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour half of dressing onto the kale and use hands to massage kale for about a minute. Now add the red onions, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and remaining dressing and carefully combine ingredients until dressing is eventually distributed. Top each plate with the coconut bacony bits and enjoy!
- 1. Preheat oven to 325º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- 2. In a large bowl, combine tomato paste, liquid aminos, and liquid smoke until smooth. Add in the coconut flakes and stir until the flakes are equally coated.
- 3. Spread the flake in a thin layer onto the parchment paper and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the flakes are completely dry
- The flakes will continue to dry as they cool after being removed from the oven. Store in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- 1. Cut tempeh into 1/4-inch strips then cut these into 1-inch pieces.
- 2. In a large bowl, combine maple syrup, tamari, ketchup, liquid smoke, and vegetable oil. Add the tempeh and carefully coat with marinade. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- 3. In a frying pan at medium heat, spoon in tempeh and keep remaining marinade in reserve. Cook each side for 2-3 minutes until the tempeh is well browned. Oil can be added to the pan if necessary.
- 4. Once tempeh is browned on both sides, pour in remaining marinade and cook until absorbed.
- Store any remaining tempeh in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
- 1 lb. kale, stems removed
- Tempeh bacon bites
- Coconut bacony bits
- 1/2 red onion, sliced into half-moons
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 ripe avocado, cubed
- 2 tbsp. minced shallots
- 4 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
- pinch of salt
- ground pepper, to taste
- 1. Remove stems from kale leaves and cut or tear into bite-sized pieces. Wash and dry kale then transfer to a large mixing bowl or container.
- 2. In a small mixing bowl, combine shallots, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Pour half of dressing onto kale and massage for about a minute.
- 3. Add in tempeh, red onions, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and remaining dressing. Gently fold ingredients into each other until eventually coated. Top with coconut bacony bits and serve immediately.