When I first started getting into cooking about 10 years ago, one of my favorite dishes to make for a special occasion was little bacon and lettuce stuffed cherry tomatoes. A friend of my Dad’s showed my sister and I how to make these mini BLTs (you can find tons of recipes online), reconstructed without bread. I thought of them this week and tried out a new version with a vegan-friendly bacon and mayonnaise and added kale in with the romaine for an extra healthy twist. These are so fun and fancy for a party or any special occasion!
When I went shopping for ingredients, I found a new variety of tomatoes called strawberry tomatoes at Whole Foods. They are just a teeny bit bigger than cherry tomatoes and I thought they were perfect for this recipe since you want enough room to put in lots of stuffing. If you can’t find strawberry tomatoes (they are pretty rare), just use cherry tomatoes since that is what I typically use.
If you’re skeptical of vegan substitutes for mayonnaise and bacon, trying them in a recipe like this is a great way to test them out. I don’t love vegan bacon on its own, but its perfect on a sandwich or mixed into a recipe like this one, providing that great salty crunch and bacon-y flavor that makes everyone love a BLT. As for the mayonnaise, I can’t say enough great things about the grapeseed flavor of Vegenaise. It has a great creamy texture and fresh taste. Once I tried it, I never looked back. Another good option for a mayo substitute is mashed avocado.
Vegan Bacon & Lettuce Stuffed Tomatoes (Mini BLTs)
(makes 3-4 dozen tomatoes)
3-4 dozen cherry or strawberry tomatoes
3/4 cup vegan mayonnaise (such as Vegenaise)
5 leaves of romaine lettuce
5 leaves of kale
1 pack vegan bacon (such as Smart Bacon)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Using a small paring knife, cut the tops off the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds until they are hollow (be sure keep the flatter side of each tomato as the bottom so it can stand upright when you are finished). Turn the tomatoes over on paper towels and set aside to drain out any remaining seeds or liquid.
Cook the vegan bacon in a sauté pan with a thin drizzle of oil over medium heat for just a couple minutes on eat side, being careful not to burn it. Drain on paper towels and set aside to cool.
Remove the stems from the romaine and kale leaves and tear them into smaller pieces with your hands. Stuff the leaves down into a food processor, and pulse until the pieces are about the size of your pinky fingernail (if you don’t have a food processor, you can just chop up the leaves with a knife). Put the kale and romaine in a big bowl, and add the vegan mayo, salt, and pepper, adding the mayo a little at the time until it is just wet enough to stick together. Put the cooked bacon in the food processor and process on high for about a minute until it turns into bacon bits. Add the bacon to the lettuce and mayo mixture and stir to combine. Refrigerate the mixture for about 30 minutes to set.
Using a small teaspoon, stuff the chilled lettuce, mayo, and bacon mixture into each tomato, packing a little extra on the top of each one. Serve as finger food.
Tip 1: I try to avoid refrigerating tomatoes becuase it ruins their flavor and texture. If you need to make these in advance, you can refrigerate them overnight and they will still taste good, but I recommend making them the day-of to get the best best flavor.
Tip 2: If you have leftover stuffing, use it as a sandwich spread or as a pesto-like pasta sauce.Pin It