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Kale & Tempeh Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing

It's safe to say I usually have more than one homemade dressing or sauce in the house, given that I'm basically allergic to store-bought dressings, though from time to time I still find myself needing to remind myself of this with an ill-advised bottle purchase when I'm harried and rushing through the grocery store. In my last post, I mentioned my latest efforts to stay inspired in the kitchen, by providing some parameters which I can play (in this instance I am talking about the kitchen). I started with limiting, or rather, allowing myself to settle in and enjoy one cookbook from my collection at a time. The idea was to hopefully provide a little more structure to my weekly meal planning, and the goal was to have this structure spill over to the weekly grocery shops too.

Well, you might be wondering, has it worked? I'm happy to say it has, even if just a little! In addition to my cookbook initiative, I've also been working on some great hacks for saving recipes and sharing them too, and while no system is perfect, I'm feeling like so far it's going pretty well. I'm learning that it's quite powerful to give yourself some early wins in the new year, and while you can absolutely make changes at any point in the year, there's something about that rush of fresh optimism and it's accompanying energy that makes it even more impactful at the start of a brand new year. So, 2018 is so far winning by a mile, and all by design, which feels decent. It really does.

Without a doubt, one of my favourite tricks to ensuring delicious grain bowls and salads is to experiment with dressings continually. The house is always stocked with good olive oil (it's essential to watch your labels here), a few mustards, a few kinds of vinegar (I like balsamic, red wine, white wine, apple cider, and rice vinegar), and a good selection of salts too. Tahini is excellent for thicker dressings as are cashews when I want to create something creamy. Because in my mind every good salad is only as good as what it's dressed with, and the best sounding item on a restaurant menu can be the least appealing in real life if it's dressed poorly. Fact.

This salad is pretty simple, but it hits a lot of notes nutritionally, with protein-loaded tempeh and the contrast of orange and green veggies. The dressing is delicious, and for those of you living in Vancouver, you can try this dressing at the downtown salad spot Field & Social, where they've got a delightful salad called the Maple Tahini going that is to die for.

Kale & Tempeh Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing:

  • 4 cups chopped Black Kale, about one bunch (you could also use curly kale)
  • 1 yam, peeled, sliced about 1/2 inch thick, and halved
  • 200 grams tempeh, cubed (if frozen, be sure to thaw before using)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or Bragg's Liquid Aminos
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 ripe avocado, cubed
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • Maple Tahini Dressing, to taste

Maple Tahini Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil (optional but yummy)
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water to thin as desired

First, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Layer the sweet potatoes on a flat baking tray layered with a piece of parchment paper and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Toss gently to ensure the pieces are well-coated. Roast in the oven until browning, tossing in between, about 20 -25 minutes. While the sweet potatoes cook, heat the remaining tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and add the cubed tempeh. Add the soy sauce immediately and cook the tempeh until starting to get crispy on the edges, about 5 minutes or so. Be sure to turn the tempeh every minute or so to avoid burning. Set aside in a bowl to cool when done.

Prepare the kale and dry toast the pumpkin seeds in the oven or over medium heat until fragrant. Set aside. Blend all of the dressing ingredients in a high powered blender until creamy. Transfer to a clean jar and set aside.

To serve the salad, massage the kale with dressing as desired until it is well coated (start with 1/3 cup and go up from there). Serve the kale topped with the roasted sweet potatoes, cooked tempeh, toasted seeds, avocado, and more dressing as desired. Serves 2 as a main meal or 4-6 as a small side.

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