I made this salad a few weeks ago for a potluck, and it was seriously gone in about 3 minutes. I had so many people asking me for the recipe that I decided to post it (I was going to post it anyway, duh! ). No one at this potluck was vegan except for me, when I told them what they were eating was vegan, they couldn’t believe it. I don’t see why people have this preconceived notion that vegan food is gross, but I’m determined to change all of their minds if it’s the last thing I do!
This recipe was originally inspired by a broccoli salad with bacon that my mom always used to make, and which I thoroughly enjoyed, during my carnivorous childhood. It even had one of my best friends, who completely despises any veggie, especially broccoli, coming back for second and third helpings.
The key to this recipe is cutting the broccoli into teeny tiny pieces, so that all the flavors absorb, and it should be refrigerated for at least 2-3 hours to let the flavors set before adding the warm ‘bacon’.
This recipe uses my home-made version of vegan bacon bits made out of heart-healthy tofu (or tempeh). For those of you who don’t cook with tofu often, there’s one important thing that you should keep in mind; all tofu is NOT created equal. It ranges in consistency from ‘silken’ to ‘firm,’ ‘extra-firm’ and ‘super firm.’ It is necessary in this recipe to use the extra-firm, or even better the super-firm variety, which is much more dense. I know a lot people who aren’t tofu fans don’t like it because of the texture. The more dense it is, the better it is for those tofu-beginners in my opinion. It’s much less slimy ;-). You can also use tempeh instead of tofu to make the bacon. I have done it both ways and they turn out equally delicious.
p.s. if you are feeling lazy, you can buy bacon bits (or any vegan bacon and cut it up into little pieces; this also tastes good with tempeh bacon!) at the store. But my home-made version is yummier!
1 large head of broccoli, cut into tiny bite-sized pieces
1/2 large red onion, diced
3/4 cup roasted cashews, coarsely chopped
1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup golden raisins
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (I use reduced fat Vegenaise)
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces vegan bac’un bits. See recipe below
1. In a large bowl, mix broccoli, red onion, cashews, water chestnuts, and golden raisins.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, vegan mayonnaise, and salt to make a dressing.
3. Add dressing mixture to the veggies, mix, and refrigerate for 2-3 hours. You can eat immediately, but it is yummier if you let it refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours.
4. Add the vegan bac’un bits to the salad mixture right before serving.
Vegan Bac’un Bits
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 teaspoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (I used even more but I like my bacon spicy!)
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
8 ounces extra or super-firm tofu, cut into 1/4” cubes (preferably super firm), you can also use 8 ounces of tempeh instead of tofu, cut the tempeh into thin bacon-like strips, marinate and cook the strips and then cut it up into bits after it’s done cooking.
1. Mix 1 tablespoon of the olive oil with remaining ingredients to make a bacon marinade.
2. Add marinade to the tofu cubes and let sit refrigerated for about 1 day ( or atleast a few hours if you can’t wait that long). Stir the cubes intermittently to allow them to be evenly coated in the marinade
3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium heat, add the marinaded tofu cubes.
4. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the tofu cubes are crispy and brown. The marinade will evaporate, coating the skillet and the tofu will dehydrate. It’s okay if the cubes break up a little bit, it gives them a more bacon-bit-like consistency.