I have this habit of becoming obsessed with certain foods and then craving them constantly. I could almost track the years by which foods were being bought in bulk. There was the artichoke obsession of 2003, the Castelvetrano olive obsession of 2007, the collard green obsession of 2008, and the sauerkraut obsession of 2010. I’m still quite fond of all of the aforementioned, but inevitably I find something new, and it takes my attention. My obsession of late? The coconut bacon from Phoney Baloney’s. I first picked up a package of their coconut bacon at Food Fight Grocery when I was in Portland for Vida Vegan Con.
The bacon is made with organic coconut, organic tamari, grapeseed oil, liquid smoke, maple syrup, sea salt, pepper, and spices. Since the bacon is made with coconut flakes, it does have a slight coconut flavor to it. However, it’s something I stopped noticing altogether after the first handful. The dominant notes are of smoky saltiness with a peppery edge, giving it a bit of bite and heat. On the package it notes that the bacon should be eaten within 2 weeks of opening, but after about a week it loses some of its crispness.
After I finished off my bag and was then a plane trip away from Oregon, I decided to make my own coconut bacon. My version was oil-free, and I baked the coconut on parchment paper. While the smoky saltiness was there, what it missed was the satisfying fattiness that you get from the grapeseed oil and the specific pepperiness of their spices.
The Phoney Baloney’s coconut bacon is dry to the touch and doesn’t leave oil on your fingers like potato chips, but once you pop a handful in your mouth, there’s a really pleasant fattiness that feels so indulgent in a way that I’ve never experienced in another plant-based bacon.
My favorite way to enjoy the coconut bacon is by the handful, right out of the bag. It’s a fun late afternoon or after dinner snack. It’s also great for packing BLTA lunches since the bacon doesn’t need to be heated. I just put a tablespoon or two of the bacon in a small container and pack it with toast, sliced tomatoes, an avocado, and a leaf of romaine. It also makes for a can’t-stop-eating salad when used as a topper, especially on green leaf lettuce salads that don’t mask any of its flavor. Another idea? Toss it with popcorn, nutritional yeast flakes, and a drizzling of vegan butter.
I find myself sprinkling it anywhere I’d typically put other salty toppings like sliced olives. One example is this roasted gnocchi tossed with pesto, cherry tomatoes, and roasted chickpeas. (Above, I used this pesto recipe, but I substituted walnuts for almonds and hempseeds.) The combination of flavors and textures ticks all of the pleasure sensors. (Not a fan of gnocchi? Toss millet or brown rice with pesto instead.)
I picked up a couple more packages of coconut bacon in Chicago at Green Grocer while in town for my birthday, and then I found a great deal to buy 3 bags and get one free from Rations Foods. (The offer is no longer valid, sorry.) I should now be well stocked with coconut bacon for a while at least! To see if Phoney Baloney’s is available in your town or where it can be purchased online, check out their website.