Yes, the B stands for bacon, but it’s not real bacon (it looks like it though, doesn’t it!?) It’s sneaky, equally addictive bacon made from portobello mushrooms and some fancy spice work.
Now that we have that out of the way, hello! I was thinking about BLT sandwiches last week, and really just how great they are. Salty, crisp bacon, creamy mayo, tart/sweet tomato, fresh lettuce –a classic combo of greatness.
My stepdad specialized in BLTs when we were growing up. As a special treat on the occasional weekend with the help of the four-slice toaster and a loaf of white bread (and let’s be honest, my Mom) he would make us each a BLT. He didn’t (/doesn’t) really cook, but those sandwiches suuuuuuuure tasted good, and filled in all the empty hunger spots left by soccer games and homework anxiety.
We are all a bit smarter now and avoiding the ‘B’ these days, as it has a lot of stuff going on with it that leaves it well outside of the realm of foods that prevent cancer. But let’s be honest you can’t live on ‘L’ and ‘T’ alone.
This is where the Portobello mushroom comes in. Often described as ‘meaty’, I have actually made Portobello (meat-free) osso bucco that turned out surprisingly well. It is also quite absorbent, which means that it will happily absorb and take on the flavour of any marinade we toss it in. I sliced it up to resemble ‘lardons’ (one of the best culinary terms ever), but feel free to leave them as slices, they might just require a little more cooking time.
Warning: don’t go crazy and eat 6 mushrooms worth of the stuff, it is still salty like bacon (even if it comes from the tamari and good quality salt) and is meant to be added as a salad ‘treat’ in the same way that real bacon would be.
The rest of the ingredients are equally important. For the ‘L’, instead of ice burg lettuce, which is used in a classic wedge-style salad (and is generally inoffensive, but lacks nutrients), I have used Napa cabbage (sui choy). It is watery and crisp, filled with lots of flavour-catching divots and layers, and not overly cabbage-y in flavour. You can still cut it like a wedge, length-wise (to serve 2-3) or slice it into rounds horizontally, which is a great option for making salad for one –one of the most uninspiring culinary ventures of all time. Plus, it’s cabbage, and therefore cruciferous, and therefore high on the list of foods that are going to stomp on your cancer cells.
The ‘T’ stays the same, duh, summer, tomato season, this salad will only get better in the coming weeks as the tomatoes do. If tomato season comes to an end before your BLT cravings do, replace the tomatoes with some roasted or raw, grated beets and avocado. You will still be winning.
I thought it was important that the dressing for this salad was creamy in homage to the mayo in the 90s BLT and of course the dressing on the original ‘wedge’. With the help of raw, soaked cashews and some avocado, we achieved this, and added lots of fresh flavour from green onions and garlic too. This doubles as a great veg dip and will taste good on pretty much any salad, especially those made from sturdier greens and veg (kale, radicchio, carrots, cabbage).
The sad white bread is replaced by a smear of white bean purée on the bottom of the plate (hummus would work here too or this or this). This, plus a sprinkling of hemp hearts, will add protein, making this a whole, satisfying meal.
I know it’s still salad, but it tastes like a special treat! Just remember not to feel guilty.
- 2 Portobello Mushrooms, sliced into 'lardon' shaped strips
- Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
- 2 tsp Tamari
- ½ tsp Dried (granulated) Garlic
- ½ tsp Smoked Spanish Paprika
- ¼ tsp Dried Turmeric
- Several grinds of Black Pepper (to enhance turmeric absorption)
- Pinch of Sea(weed) Salt
- 1 Head of Napa Cabbage (sui choy)
- 1½ c Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
- 1 bunch Green Onions
- ¼ c Hemp Hearts
- 1 c Hummus or other bean dip
- ½ c Cashews, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed well
- ¼ Avocado
- 3 Green Onions
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 2 Tbsp Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- ½ c Water
- ¼ c Parsley, finely chopped
- Sea(weed) Salt to taste
- Preheat the oven to 325*F
- Slice the portobellos into strips and then chop the strips into short strips (see picture)
- Melt the oil and mix with the spices and tamari
- Toss this mixture with the sliced mushrooms until mixed well
- Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, until shrunken and crispy
- Alternatively: Put in a dehydrator set to 115*F for 10-12 hours
- Smear the hummus on the bottom of the plate or platter.
- Slice the cabbage in half length-wise and then chop it in three horizontally and put it on top of the hummus on the platter, garnishing it as though it was still one piece (don't separate the three pieces).
- OR Slice the cabbage into 1-2 inch rounds (perfect for salad for one) and place 1-2 rounds per plate.
- Top with dressing, tomatoes, green onions, bacon and hemp hearts.
- Blend everything except the parsley in a blender until very smooth.
- Add the parsley and blend or stir just to combine.