Summer Cobb Salad with Coconut Bacon

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Summer is HERE! Wowee zowee it’s been a beautiful July filled with plenty of sunshine, swimming, fresh fruit, and family time. It’s also a very special feeling being in Canada for the whole spring-to-summer transition once again. It’s one of my favourite things, watching this little part of the world turn green and warm, for the lakes and rivers to invite us in, for the farmers’ markets to burst with local goodness, and for the long days to stretch into equally enchanted nights.

I don’t cook a whole lot this time of year – I like to keep my food really fresh, mostly raw and pretty light.  If I am turning the stove or oven on, it’s often to make staples that I can keep on hand in the fridge to amp up a salad or sandwich. Lentils, beans, and quinoa are some rotating essentials that I can add a bunch of fresh veggies to, or turn into a dip. I also love to have some coconut bacon from my second cookbook, Naturally Nourished, on hand to add awesome flavour and texture to something as basic as avocado toast.

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The inspiration for this salad came when I had just made a fresh batch of this magical stuff, and I was trying to come up with some alternative uses for it (besides the best B.L.T. ever) when I remembered another classic bacon meal: the Cobb Salad! If you live outside of North America, chances are you’re not familiar with this iconic dish, a texture-rich combination of chopped romaine, avocado, tomato, chives, hard-boiled eggs, bacon, and chicken. It’s a rich and protein-heavy “salad”, often smothered in a creamy blue cheese dressing. Whoa! Major. Needless to say, I knew that this was perfect makeover fodder, and I had everything I needed to get started.

To turn this indulgent dish into something just as delicious, but actually a salad, was relatively easy. First, I decided to turn up the green and add some spinach to the mix. This small addition delivers more iron, protein, vitamin C and folate. Instead of chicken, I pointed my garden arrow at peas, to add body and filling fiber. Cooked chickpeas, butter beans or French lentils would also work beautifully in their place. Watermelon radishes just came into season here, and it was a total no-brainer to add them to this version, since they add great crunch, delicious earthiness, and pink. Because pink! And of course I kept the avocado…duh.

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The Creamy Chive Dressing is such a win here. I created it in hopes of maintaining that rich and satisfying mouthfeel that blue cheese dressing lends to the classic Cobb, but without the cheese, cream, sour cream and mayo (I mean, holy cow). Instead I used hemp seeds, which are rich in Omega-3 fats, and protein to energize our summer bods. It’s tangy, a little garlic-y, and super fresh. And since my recipe makes more than enough for this salad, pour the rest over thickly sliced beefsteak tomatoes, grilled eggplant and zucchini, or fold it into cooked grains and greens.     

My version of Cobb Salad is more of a concept than a recipe – so feel free to play around a bit with what you have, in the amounts that you have. And if you’ve got some other salad-y things kicking around that would work here, toss them in! No rules, just a clean-out-the-fridge kinda deal. It’s summer. Let’s keep things easy and flowin’!

To say I’m obsessed with this salad is an understatement. It’s the perfect summer meal and has everything going on with its fresh, crunchy, garden-fresh veggies and greens, creamy avocado, juicy tomatoes, rich and smoky coconut bacon, smooth and tangy chive dressing, satisfying eggs, and if you don’t want to dive face first into that bowl right now I don’t think we’ll ever be friends ; )

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    Print recipe    
Summer Cobb Salad with Coconut Bacon
Serves 2 as a meal, 4 as a side

Ingredients:
1 head of romaine lettuce
a couple large handfuls of spinach
a few handfuls fresh peas, raw or lightly steamed
2 medium watermelon radish
1-2 ripe avocados, depending on how hungry you are
2-3 soft-boiled eggs, optional
a couple handfuls of Coconut Bacon (recipe follows)
a generous drizzle of Creamy Chive Dressing (recipe follows)
chives for garnish
flaky salt and pepper for garnish

Directions:
1. Roughly chop the romaine and spinach, and place in a large salad bowl.

2. Thinly slice the watermelon radishes, peel and slice the avocado, cut the eggs in half, and add these ingredients to the greens. Scatter peas throughout, toss on the Coconut Bacon, drizzle with the Creamy Chive Dressing and garnish with chives, salt and pepper. Devour and rejoice.

Coconut Bacon
Makes 5 cups / 200g

Ingredients:
¼ cup / 60ml tamari
¼ cup / 60ml maple syrup
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil
1 Tbsp. liquid smoke
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
½ tsp. garlic powder
5 cups / 200g coconut flakes

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325°C / 160°F.

2. Whisk all wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Add coconut flakes and toss well to coat. Let the coconut sit and marinate in the liquid for about 5 minutes.

3. Place coconut on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spreading it out evenly. Bake for 20-30 minutes, stirring every 7 minutes or so, until fragrant and crispy. The coconut will crisp up outside the oven as well, so take that into consideration. Store in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

Creamy Chive dressing
Makes 1 ½ cups / 375ml

Ingredients:
¾ cup / 100g hemp seeds
zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup / 60ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
2 tsp. pure maple syrup
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
¼ cup / 60ml water, or more as needed
3 Tbsp. finely minced chives

Directions:
1. Place all ingredients in a blender (a high-speed blender is definitely recommended) and blend on high until completely smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired. If the dressing is too thick, add a little water and blend well again.

2. Pour dressing into a glass jar and store leftovers in the fridge for up to one week.

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Source: FS – All – Food and Nutrition Blogs
Summer Cobb Salad with Coconut Bacon