I love a good salad. For example, there’s my Vegan Cobb Salad. I could eat that every day! But my all-time favorite salad is a little more vertical. I call it the Perfect Vegan Seven Layer Salad, and it’s made just like the kind you grew up eating, but veganized to taste just as great but also to be much more heart-friendly too!
I love salads. I eat them nearly every day. And the Grand Poobah of salads for me has been the Seven Layer Salad. My mom makes this for Thanksgiving every year. And it was something I always looked forward to.
Until I became vegan.
If you’re not familiar with the traditional Seven Layer Salad, it begins with a layer of lettuce, followed by green onions, frozen peas, boiled eggs, bacon bits, cheddar cheese, and topped with my mom’s secret mayo dressing.
That’s a lot of layers vegans cannot eat. Remove the eggs, cheese, and mayo dressing, and you’re left with a 4-layer salad. Nothing to get excited about.
I resigned myself to a life without this succulent salad. That is, until this week when I was touched with inspiration to try making a vegan (and healthier) version. Imagine…the perfect vegan seven layer salad!
I began the salad with mixed greens, a healthier base than the iceberg lettuce my mom uses. I cooked some tofu in seasoning to replace the boiled eggs, used shredded vegan cheese, and created my own magical dairy-free ranch infused mayo dressing.
I call this the Perfect Vegan Seven Layer Salad because not only is it scrumptious, it’s also much healthier than the older version because it’s cholesterol free! I recommend using bacon bits (because they’re actually “accidentally vegan”), but I also am providing a link to a recipe for Bacon-Flavored Almond Slivers. I love using these almond slivers in my recipes, but if you’re tight on time, bacon bits can work too.
- 1 package extra firm tofu drained
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash garlic & herb seasoning
- dash of salt
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 4-5 cups mixed greens washed, patted dried, & long stems removed
- 6 - 10 stalks green onions washed and sliced
- 10 oz bag frozen peas
- ½ cup bacon bits (I used Bacos because they are vegan or Bacon-Flavored Almond Slivers
- 8 oz package Daiya Shredded Cheddar Cheese
- 16 oz . container dairy-free mayo
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 3 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup,
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper freshly cracked is best
Remove the tofu from the container. Press the tofu by placing paper towels (or dish cloth on the top and bottom. Either use your hands to press the tofu or place it on a plate and place something with a little bit of weight on top. Allow to sit for a few minutes to drain excess liquid from the tofu.
Once the tofu is ready, tear it into small pieces (about the size of diced boiled eggand place pieces in a skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Cook over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add Mrs. Dash, nutritional yeast flakes, and salt and stir until the tofu is well coated. Tofu takes on the flavors of the food around it so the goal here is to help the tofu become infused with the seasoning flavors. We're also trying to cook out some of the liquid. I cooked the tofu over medium heat for about 10 - 12 minutes, occasionally stirring to keep the seasonings mixed and to prevent the tofu from browning. Once it's done, turn the heat off and set aside to cool momentarily before lacing in a lidded bow. Place this in the fridge to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad.
Get out the dish you intend to use to serve the salad. I used a Pyrex 3.2 quart container. Tear mixed greens into pieces. Fill the dish with mixed greens until it's a little over half-way full.
Next get out the green onions Remove tops, and slice the rest; I use as much of the green onions as I can with this recipe. Spread the sliced green onions evenly over the greens. Two layers down, five to go!
Spread the frozen peas on top of the green onions. I use the entire bag so the frozen peas layer is thick enough to create a barrier between the greens and the topping. This prevents the greens from getting soggy. That means if you're lucky enough to have any leftovers, the salad will still taste great the next day.
Evenly spread the cooled tofu pieces on top of the frozen peas. Next sprinkle the tofu with bacon bits. My mom uses a lot of bacon bits, but I just do a small sprinkling because I think their flavor can be overwhelming. I like a bit of that smoky taste, but not too much. You can choose what works best for you.
The next layer is the shredded vegan cheddar cheese. I used Daiya Cheddar, but you can also use Follow Your Heart cheddar cheese. I can find these in the health food section of my local grocery store, but they're also typically available at most health food stores. Cover the salad with the package of shredded cheese, leaving a little left over to sprinkle on top.
Finally, it's time to make the secret Vegan Magical Mayo dressing. Add the dairy-free mayo, garlic powder, onion powder, and agave nectar in a small bowl and stir until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can add this dressing to the salad right away if you're ready to serve dinner or you can refrigerate the salad without dressing and add the dressing immediately before serving.
Top with additional chopped onions, bacon bits or a little bit of the remaining cheddar cheese for garnishing.
This post was updated to include larger photos and some edits to the recipe. Here’s an example of one of the previous photos on this post.