This plant-based BLT pasta salad recipe is an exciting twist on the classic sandwich. There’s no actual bacon here, but that’s hardly a missed omission. Packed with smoky tempeh, warm tomato dressing, and creamy avocado, it hits all the flavor and texture pleasure points. It’s a great dish to bring to a potluck as a vegan-friendly main. For a simpler preparation, look for tempeh that is pre-flavored.
Up in smoke
No need to break out the smoker. Bottled liquid smoke is a natural product made from condensing the smoke from burning wood. The flavoring can be used in marinades for both meats and plant-based proteins such as tempeh to contribute a smoky taste to a variety of dishes including chili, baked beans, and even mac and cheese. Because of its concentrated taste, only a small amount is required.
- 9 oz pkg tempeh thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce tamari, or coconut aminos
- 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp liquid smoke optional
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 6 tsp + 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 12 oz farfalle pasta or rotini or penne pasta, if preferred
- 1 English cucumber sliced
- 2 cups arugula
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
- 4 Roma tomatoes roughly chopped, plum
- 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 avocado sliced
- In large shallow container, place tempeh slices. In small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, liquid smoke (if using), and cumin. Pour mixture over tempeh slices. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 300 F. Remove tempeh from marinade and lay slices on parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with 2 tsp oil and dust with half the paprika. Bake for 12 minutes, or until darkened. Flip tempeh slices, brush tops with another 2 tsp oil, and dust with remaining paprika. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until crispy. When cool enough to handle, break tempeh “bacon” into 1-inch pieces.
- In large pot of salted water, cook pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain well. Return to pot and toss in tempeh bacon, cucumber, and arugula. Cover to keep warm.
- In skillet, heat 2 tsp oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until onion is golden. Add garlic and heat for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and heat until softened and begging to release juices, about 3 minutes. Place tomato mixture in bowl and stir in 2 Tbsp olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, and black pepper.
- Toss tomato dressing with pasta salad. Serve topped with avocado slices.
Per serving: 683 calories; 28 g protein; 24 g total fat (4 g sat. fat); 94 g total carbohydrates (13 g sugars, 17 g fiber); 459 mg sodium