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Strawberry Salad with Coconut Bacon & Black Pepper Vinaigrette

Strawberry Salad with Coconut Bacon

Strawberry Salad with Coconut Bacon & Black Pepper Vinaigrette
A few years ago, when we lived in Georgia, a restaurant that we frequented served up a seasonal strawberry salad with mixed greens, nuts, and bacon all tossed in a black pepper vinaigrette. I would skip the bacon and even without it, it was one of the best salads I’ve ever had. I crave it to this day — especially when I see a basket of strawberries.

Since strawberries are in season now, it seemed like the perfect time to take a stab at creating my own version of that strawberry salad — this time, with the bacon. Well, with coconut bacon. If you haven’t made coconut bacon before, I have a step-by-step tutorial on how to make it on Beard & Bonnet. It’s really simple to do and it’s completely worth it. Most bacon substitutes get the flavor right, but the texture is wrong. Coconut bacon is about as close as you can get to nailing both the flavor of bacon and the crispy texture too.

Strawberry Salad with Coconut Bacon & Black Pepper Vinaigrette
So does it taste like coconut? Well, a little bit, but it’s hardly detectable. And if you’re one of those people who dislikes coconut flakes because of the chewy texture, don’t worry — the coconut gets crispy in the oven, so that chewiness goes away.

The sweet spring strawberries are the perfect compliment to the savory, salty bacon. I opted to use a prepared salad mix from the store, which makes this simple salad even easier to throw together. I used an herb blend because I love the little bits of cilantro, basil, and dill running through the greens, but you can use any lettuce mix you want — just toss in a few of your own favorite herbs before serving.

To finish things off, I added almonds and roasted pepitas for some crunch (and protein!) and drizzled it all with a homemade black pepper vinaigrette. I like having my salad with a few thinly sliced wedges of cheese on the side to round out the meal, but this is one of those salads that’s satisfying all by itself — no need to add soup or a sandwich!

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Strawberry Salad with Coconut Bacon & Black Pepper Vinaigrette

Strawberry Salad with Coconut Bacon

Fresh mixed herbs and greens, sweet in-season strawberries, crunchy almonds and pepitas, and smoky coconut bacon — all dressed with zingy black pepper vinaigrette. This salad is happiness on a plate!

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 large meal-sized servings

Ingredients

For the coconut bacon:

  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons liquid smoke
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons water
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the black pepper vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

  • 1 (5-ounce) package herb blend salad greens
  • Coarse salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup roasted salted pepitas
  • 1/4 cup coconut bacon, plus additional bacon for serving

Instructions

Make the coconut bacon:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place oven rack in the center position.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, maple syrup, liquid smoke, and water. Add the coconut and stir until the coconut absorbs the liquid. Sprinkle paprika and black pepper over the top. Stir to combine.
  3. Spread the coconut flakes in an even layer onto a large rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake until dark brown in color, 10-15 minutes. The bacon will go from perfectly browned to burnt really quickly, so after 10 minutes, be sure to keep a close eye on it. It should closely resemble the color and look of crumbled bacon when it’s done.

Make the black pepper vinaigrette:

  1. Combine the red wine vinegar, sugar, black pepper, garlic, and salt in a small mixing bowl and whisk to combine. While continuing to whisk, slowly drizzle in the olive oil to blend. Alternately, you can add all of the ingredients to a mason jar, fasten the lid securely and shake vigorously for 30 seconds until combined.

Build your salad:

  1. Place your prepared salad mix in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Add the sliced strawberries, almonds, pepitas, and coconut bacon. Toss again. Divide between 4 large serving plates or bowls and drizzle each with dressing. Serve with additional coconut bacon.for topping.

Notes

You’ll have some leftover vinaigrette and coconut bacon from this recipe. The vinaigrette will last a week or two in the fridge, and the coconut bacon keeps for a few days in a tightly covered container at room temperature.

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27 Comments

  • Reply
    Anne @AVeganAdventure
    May 15, 2014 at 8:40 am

    Gorgeous looking salad! I’ve bought the pre-made coconut bacon, but after reading this I’ll be making my own!

    • Reply
      Meg van der Kruik
      May 16, 2014 at 11:53 am

      Thanks Anne! The premade is SO expensive. It is way cheaper to make your own and is almost as easy as running to the store.:)

  • Reply
    Ashley @ musingsandoats
    May 15, 2014 at 8:49 am

    Yum! The flavors in this salad look ridiculously good. I would never think to put bacon, strawberries and coconut together. What a fun combination!

    • Reply
      Meg van der Kruik
      May 16, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Ashley, coconut bacon is SO good! When you combine it with the sweet tart strawberries it’s like magic;)

  • Reply
    Katie (The Muffin Myth)
    May 15, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Yum! I love a good strawberry salad, especially with baby spinach. I haven’t tried making coconut bacon before, but I happen to have a bag of coconut flakes in my cupboard right now and I know I’ve seen liquid smoke at my neighbourhood store. Perfect! I’m going to give it a go this weekend. Can’t wait!

    • Reply
      Meg van der Kruik
      May 16, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Yay Katie! I hope you love it too.

  • Reply
    Linda @ Veganosity
    May 15, 2014 at 10:28 am

    I’ll have to try the coconut bacon. I just made a Portobello bacon and my omnivore husband LOVED it! Liquid smoke and a little maple syrup made the mushrooms taste amazing.

    • Reply
      Meg van der Kruik
      May 16, 2014 at 11:57 am

      Linda I have heard of portabella bacon and have been anxious to try it. Glad to hear that your hubby liked it! I hope he will like the coconut bacon too. It reminds me of bacon bits with its crunch factor.

  • Reply
    Candace
    May 15, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Oh how badly I want to eat that salad right now! Strawberries make every salad better!

    • Reply
      Meg van der Kruik
      May 16, 2014 at 7:12 pm

      I completely agree Candace! Strawberries make salads wonderful:)

  • Reply
    Stephanie @ Henry Happened
    May 15, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    I’m so intrigued by coconut bacon – it would be hard to give up the real thing but it does sound yum! 🙂 And I cannot get enough strawberries!!

    • Reply
      Meg van der Kruik
      May 16, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      Stephanie, even my bacon loving daughter was fooled by the smell when it was cooking. Ha! The coconut bacon reminds me a lot of bacon bits and I completely agree that there can NEVER be enough strawberries;)

  • Reply
    Lauren Nolan (@lakeshore_lady)
    May 15, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    That’s SO funny! I just made/featured Coconut Bacon this week! Isn’t it so good?! I may or may not have been eating the extras right out of the tupperware… so addicting!!
    xo,
    Lauren at http://www.lakeshorelady.com

    • Reply
      Meg van der Kruik
      May 16, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      Ha! Great minds think alike Lauren:) I am totally obsessed with coconut bacon…probably in an unhealthy way.

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    May 15, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Such a pretty salad, love the strawberries and black pepper vinaigrette!

    • Reply
      Meg van der Kruik
      May 16, 2014 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks Laura!!

  • Reply
    [email protected] Well Floured Kitchen
    May 15, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Coconut Bacon? How did I not know such a thing existed? Crazy cool idea, and the salad looks scrumptious!

  • Reply
    Julia
    May 16, 2014 at 8:07 am

    I love this salad, Meg! So fresh and colorful. I’ve made coconut bacon before and absolutely love it! It’s so addicting and I was eating it by the handful. You just reminded me I need to make up another batch…for the salad and for the eating!

    • Reply
      Meg van der Kruik
      May 16, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      Thanks Julia!! Isn’t coconut bacon wonderful?! I am OBSESSED with it. I literally put it into everything.

  • Reply
    Courtney @ The Fig Tree
    May 17, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    This looks wonderful! I just tried coconut bacon last week and I’m smitten. Such great flavour and texture. Great idea to add it to a salad. Strawberries would be a great pairing with the bacon. I will try this out for sure. 🙂

  • Reply
    Iosune | Minimal Eats
    May 18, 2014 at 6:13 am

    Amazing recipe! I’m vegetarian and sometimes I miss bacon, I need to try coconut bacon, it looks awesome!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    May 18, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    I’m so intrigued by coconut bacon- this is the first time I’m hearing about it! Honestly, this whole salad looks perfect. I love all the ingredients separately, and I’m certain that they’re delicious together!

  • Reply
    joanne
    May 19, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    I am not going to be able to get this salad out of my head unless I get it into my belly! I love fruit in my salad and am so happy you’ve introduced me to coconut bacon! I feel like my salads will never be the same…in a good way.

  • Reply
    Jamie Hegg
    January 25, 2018 at 11:08 pm

    Hi!
    My name is Jamie Hegg, I write for Spoon University at Seattle University, and was hoping to feature your Blueberry Arugula Salad in an article. I was wondering if I have permission to feature your photo in the article and add your name for photo credits, as well as a link to the recipe on your website.
    Let me know, Thanks.
    Jamie

    • Reply
      Katie Trant
      January 30, 2018 at 9:10 am

      Hi Jamie, that’s totally fine, thank you for asking.

  • Reply
    Jamie Hegg
    January 25, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    Hi!
    I write for Spoon University at Seattle University, and was hoping to feature your Strawberry Coconut Bacon in an article. I was wondering if I have permission to feature your photo in the article and add your name for photo credits, as well as a link to the recipe on your website.

    • Reply
      Katie Trant
      January 30, 2018 at 9:11 am

      HI Jamie, yes, that’s fine as long as there is a link back to our site. Thanks for asking!

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