This satiating recipe combines protein-rich ingredients with a simple, tahini-dijon dressing to create a comforting tempeh kale salad. You’ll be craving this meal prep-worthy recipe all week long!
So, I know that this was supposed to be a chickpea salad, but your girl did not have any already-cooked chickpeas on hand yesterday. Instead, I used tempeh and OMG am I glad that I did! Both would be delicious in this salad, but this tempeh ended up so perfectly crunchy on the outside and super-savory. So dreamy! Almost like tempeh croutons but they don’t hurt your mouth. (LOL)
Also, I know that tempeh can be a bit polarizing amongst those that have tried it. It’s honestly one of my favorite plant-based proteins! BUT, an essential step to bringing it to its full potential, is to steam or simmer it before anything else. This reduces the sometimes bitter flavor it can have, plus gives it a better texture.
Next, I love using kale for this salad because it’s a pretty substantial green. It can last a long time in the refrigerator before wilting – if stored properly. Even after a good massaging, as we do in this recipe, it still has a lot of body to it. Of course, you can use your preferred green, just skip the massaging part!
Now, to get into the substitutions for this comforting tempeh kale salad. Remember, I have not tried these myself, for this specific recipe. BUT, these notes are based off of my experience and expertise.
- Tempeh – As mentioned before a 15-ounce (425 g) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed can work as well. Just skip the simmering in veggie broth!
- Vegetable broth – Since this is for simmering the tempeh, if you want to watch your sodium intake, use water or no salt-added veggie broth.
- Tahini – I wouldn’t suggest subbing this out because it is pretty unique flavor-wise to this dressing. You MAY be able to use sunbutter in its place if you have a sesame allergy.
- Dijon mustard – Again, this ingredient is pretty notable in the dressing. But, if you don’t have it on hand, stone ground mustard or even a lesser amount of yellow mustard could work!
- Kale – I used red kale for this, but any type of kale will work, as long as you tear it into bite-sized pieces. If you don’t have kale on hand, arugula, spinach, or even chopped romaine could work! Just make sure to skip the massaging part, but still use the lemon juice.
- Cooked quinoa – any cooked grain you have on hand will work! Though my top suggestions would be farro, buckwheat, and maybe short grain brown rice.
- Pepitas AKA pumpkin seeds – I used raw pepitas in this recipe, but toasted works just as good. And if you don’t have those, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds (of lesser quantity), or even chopped almonds will work!
- Cherry tomatoes – any diced tomato will work here! You could also dice 1 red bell pepper for a similar experience. This is mostly for a cool and refreshing texture to break up the savory salad.
Now, to the recipe! It really comes together so quickly and easily, so don’t be too discouraged by the length of the instructions. All-in-all, I made this is about 30 minutes! So, it’s a wonderful lunch to either prep ahead, or even a filling weeknight dinner.
For the crusted tempeh
- 8 ounces (225 g) tempeh, cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes
- 1 cup (235 ml) vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons (10 g) nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- Cooking oil spray, optional
For the tahini dressing
- 1/4 cup (60 g) tahini
- 3-4 tablespoons (45-60 ml) water
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
For assembling the salad
- 8 cups (181 g) loosely packed kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 cup (106 g) cooked quinoa, cooled*
- 1 cup (155 g) halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup (71 g) raw pepitas AKA pumpkin seeds
- For the crusted tempeh, preheat oven to 400F (204C or gas mark 6) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Place the tempeh and vegetable broth in a small sauce pan, and bring broth to a simmer over medium heat. Leaving the pan uncovered, simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until tempeh is tender but not fragile, flipping tempeh cubes halfway through.
- While the tempeh is simmering, make the tahini dressing by whisking tahini, 3 tablespoons (45 ml) water, lemon juice, mustard, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and salt together in a small bowl. If the mixture seems a little thick, add the remaining tablespoon (15 ml) of water and whisk until very smooth. Then store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- After the tempeh is simmered, drain remaining vegetable broth from pan and transfer tempeh to a mixing bowl. Sprinkle nutritional yeast, onion powder, salt, paprika, and black pepper over the tempeh while still warm, and toss gently to coat it evenly.
- Spread the tempeh cubes out on the parchment paper, and give them a light spray of cooking oil. Skip this if you'd prefer oil-free. Place baking sheet in the oven, and roast tempeh for 10 minutes, then flip the cubes over and roast an addition 7 to 10 minutes, or until they begin to brown in spots.
- Once the tempeh is done, place it on a cooling rack and prep remainder of salad.
- In a large bowl, place kale, then drizzle with lemon juice, and squeeze/massage it with your hands for 1 to 2 minutes. The kale will soften and reduce in size. Next, add in quinoa and toss to incorporate. Then divide that mixture between 4 bowls or meal prep containers, and top each with tomatoes and pepitas.
- Add crusted tempeh to each serving, and if you are eating right away, drizzle with dressing. Otherwise, leave dressing off if you are storing as meal prep - these will last up to 5 days in the fridge. Enjoy!
*If you do not already have cooked quinoa on hand, use 1/3 cup (58 g) dry quinoa and simmer it with 2/3 cup (158 ml) water and a small pinch of salt, in a covered pan for 15 to 20 minutes.
*Read blog post for ingredient substitution recommendations.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 428Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 579mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 10gSugar: 4gProtein: 28g
If you’re loving this comforting tempeh kale salad, I recommend checking some of these other recipes out!