Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon
5 from 1 vote
Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon | The Full Helping

When I was living in DC, I ate some form of a quinoa salad for lunch nearly every single day. It was a perfect response to the heat and humidity: something light, yet filling and nutritious. Sometimes I’d add beans, sometimes not; sometimes it was hemp or flax oil and on other days I preferred an avocado dressing. In any case, the basic combination of quinoa, veggies, and greens was always the same. This quinoa BLT salad with shiitake bacon is my latest addition to the quinoa lunch salad rotation, and it’s a delicious addition at that.

When I first pulled the shiitake bacon that makes this recipe special out of the oven, Steven was incredulous: it seemed hard for him to imagine me savoring anything that resembled or tasted like bacon. Truth be told, bacon was a favorite of mine prior to giving up meat when I was little, and BLT sandwiches were my favorite use for it. I’ve tried plenty of vegan imaginings of bacon, including my coconut bacon and eggplant bacon. Sometimes I even feel that throwing a handful of salty dulse into a salad creates that salty effect–though I know it’s a stretch to compare bacon and seaweed.

Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon | The Full Helping

Shiitake bacon may be my new favorite approach to plant-based bacon. I love the slightly chewy texture that the mushrooms take on as they’re roasted, low and slow. And the flavor is everything it should be: smoky, salty, and just a tiny bit sweet.

The other standout feature of this salad: a creamy avocado dressing. Juicy tomatoes (which you can add fresh, or oven roast for more concentrated flavor). And, of course, there’s the quinoa, which adds plenty of texture and substance to the dish. Altogether, it’s a flavorful and satisfying summer lunch: a little fancier than what I tend to make on an everyday basis, but all the more rewarding for demanding a little extra time.

Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon | The Full Helping

5 from 1 vote

Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Marinating time 1 hour
Total Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Yields: 4 servings


For the shiitake bacon:

  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari (90ml)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (60ml)
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 8 ounces brushed, stemmed, and thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (225g)

For the salad:

  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa (135g)
  • 5 ounces grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (140g; half of 1 pint)
  • 6 cups lightly packed, chopped romaine lettuce (140g)

For the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked at least 2 hours and drained (35g)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup water (80ml)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic roughly chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt more to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper


  • Begin by making the shiitake bacon. Whisk together the tamari, vinegar, oil, maple syrup, and paprika in a shallow glass dish or bowl. Add the mushrooms and stir gently until evenly coated in the marinade. Transfer the mushrooms to the fridge. Allow them to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 350°F / 175°C. Line one large or two small baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Drain the mushrooms in a colander and arrange them on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10 minutes, then stir the mushrooms on the sheet and bake for 15 minutes more.
  • Stir the mushrooms again, increase the heat to 375°F / 190°C, then bake for 5-10 minutes more, or until the mushrooms are darkened, chewy, and crispy at the edges. Remove the mushroom bacon from the oven and transfer to a plate to cool.
  • After you put the shiitake bacon into the oven, prepare the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa through a fine sieve. Transfer it, along with 1 1/3 cups water, to a medium sized saucepan. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 13 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed. Remove the quinoa from heat, fluff it with a fork, re-cover, and allow it to come to room temperature.
  • To prepare the dressing, blend all of the dressing ingredients together in a powerful blender.
  • To prepare the salad, toss the chopped romaine, tomatoes, cooked quinoa, and shiitake bacon together. Add the dressing and mix again, well. Enjoy!


*If you like (and have time) you can also oven quarter and then roast the tomatoes at 400F for 30 minutes, or until they’re browning at the edges and very tender.
Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon | The Full Helping


Little things can make such a big difference in salads. Here, the roasted mushrooms add an intensity of flavor that does wonders for the dish. I love the salad, and I hope you will, too.

On that note, I’m wrapping up my second-to-last week of summer class. It has flown by, and now I have only one exam and one assignment to work through before getting a true break from school in July and August. I can’t wait to truly immerse myself in work and recipe testing–and to nurturing my whole life, too, including time with Steven. See you for weekend reading!


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Categories: Recipes, Salads, Meal Sized Salads
Method: Oven, Stovetop
Ingredients: Mushrooms, Quinoa, Tomatoes
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free

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  1. Great recipe. The prep and cook time is a little longer then what I am use to. This is a dish that I could totally see myself making for the weekend. Don’t know much about Shiitake bacon, but will google to learn more. Great articles and great recipes, thanks.

  2. This sounds delicious! I too love bacon & would love to try your shiitake bacon. I have a container of dried shiitakes. Do you think they would work?

  3. Gena, you have outdone yourself here–I love the idea of the slow roasted shitakes in this quinoa salad. You certainly have a knack for picking things to go with quinoa and making all the flavors pop. Thanks! Beautiful photos too. 🙂 xo