Bacon…bacon bits…ranch dressing…cobb salad…‘Merica.
Wow, my mind is clearly a little foggy. Today was just one of those days for me. It started when I accidentally dropped my freshly washed organic gala apple in the garbage; which I might have picked out and washed again had I been at home but this happened at work.
When you work in the medical field, you don’t mess around with garbage. You stop and stare at the can, mutter the word “shhhii…” and cut your losses.
I know, losing your daily apple isn’t really a big deal but when you’re OCD like me, it throws your whole day off. Wait…what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, cobb salads. I’d say a cobb salad with ranch dressing is about as American as it gets in my book.
However, I’m not too crazy about the traditional American diet these days and I find myself in search of ways to healthify our fatty, sugary, meaty ways. So that’s what I did and it tasted awesome. The ‘bacon bits’ you see on the salad are made with fiber-packed red beans, ground-up oats, nutritional yeast and a little bit of flavoring to imitate that delicious bacon flavor that we love.
In my humble opinion, it’s just as satisfying as real bacon and tastes wonderful on top of crisp romaine with boiled egg, avocado and creamy homemade ranch dressing.
I might be a little off today but you can trust me when I say this salad rocks. It’s full of flavor, satisfying, and is something you can feel good about eating.
Healthy Cobb Salad with Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- 3 cups romaine, chopped
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 avocado, diced
- 2 eggs, hardboiled and diced
- 1 large tomato, diced
Vegan Bacon Bits
Loosely Adapted from No Meat Athlete
- 1 (15 ounce) can small red beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 3 teaspoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
Yogurt Ranch Dressing
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 3 tablespoons light mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup nonfat milk + 2 teaspoons white vinegar (allow to sit for 5 minutes)
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Makes 2 large dinner salads
Start by preheating the oven to 400°F. Place the oats in a food processor and pulse for several seconds. Then add the beans along with the rest of the ingredients for the vegan bacon bits and pulse until well combined but still chunky. You may have to scrape the bowl and pulse again to get it to blend properly.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and pour bean mixture on top. With the back of a spoon, spread the mixture out flat like pizza dough and then bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, remove from the oven and fluff with a fork so that chunky pieces form. Continue to cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, until slightly crispy.
While the bacon bits are baking, start preparing the dressing. I like to finely mince the garlic and herbs (assuming you use fresh herbs) with a processor but you can also do that by hand.
Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Lastly, prepare the salad by arranging the romaine and spinach with the avocado, egg and tomato on top.
Divide about 1/2 cup of the warm vegan bacon bits on each salad, top with dressing and serve.
**You will likely have left over bacon bits that you can use in a sandwich, wrap or on top of a baked potato. You might even have enough for two more salads. They can be stored for up to 3 days in an airtight container and to save time, you can make the dressing and/or bacon bits ahead of time and then reheat when ready to use.
You want a bite, don’t you? Hah? You know you do. Alright, I’m done.
Do you like bacon? The maple kind?