I know, I’ve made a lot of kale lately. It’s my vegetable of choice this time of year, especially when the internet (and even my kitchen, a little bit) is full of sugary, buttery foods. With so much indulgence, I feel the need for balance… but tasty balance…
This was going to be a raw kale salad, but I changed my mind at the last minute because I was craving something warm and cozy. I roasted my kale in the oven… a method I especially love because it creates two textures in the salad… hearty wilted kale mixed with some lighter crispy pieces.
Kale leaves go perfectly with a creamy tahini dressing. And because I live with a cheese lover, I made mine with some shaved pecorino (not to worry, I also list a vegan alternative). The leftover dressing is great the next day on toast, sandwiches, another salad, you know the extra-dressing drill.
To make it a meal I added some tempeh. I quickly cooked it in a pan with balsamic, soy and a little bit of honey until it got a nice caramelized char. It adds a bacon-esque flavor, but if you’re a meat eater, some crispy pancetta would go nicely in here instead.
For a main course, this is on the lighter side. To make it a heartier meal, add some quinoa, brown rice, toasty bread crumbs, etc.
large bunch of kale (plus olive oil, salt & pepper for drizzling)
2-3 chopped scallions, white and green parts
1/4 cup dried cranberries
chopped parsley, about 1/2 cup
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or any nut you like)
soy-balsamic tempeh bites (see recipe below, or crispy pancetta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus some zest
1 teaspoon honey or agave
1 garlic clove
2 tablespoons tahini
a good grating of pecorino or parmesan cheese (plus some for the top of the salad)
(if vegan, just omit cheese, or add a tablespoon or two of nutritional yeast)
water to thin, as needed
a few pinches of red pepper flakes
1/2 package tempeh, sliced into 1/4″ thick strips
splash of soy sauce
splash of balsamic
drizzle of honey
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Start dressing. In a small bowl measure out your olive oil, lemon juice, zest, honey, salt & pepper. Give your garlic clove a good smash and drop it in. You’re going to fish it out later, after it sits and infused garlic into the flavor of the oil (alternatively, just mince it in). Set aside while you work on the other components.
Drizzle whole kale leaves with olive oil, salt & pepper. Spread into a single layer on a baking sheet (you might need 2). Bake in the oven for 8-12 minutes or until the edges are crispy and the centers are wilted. Remove from oven, let cool to room temp. Stack the leaves and chop them, removing the more coarse parts of the stems. Set aside.
Start the tempeh. Heat oil in a small skillet. When your pan is hot, add the tempeh. Cook on both sides for a few minutes until they start to brown. Then add a splash of soy sauce, balsamic. Flip around to coat all sides. Add a drizzle of honey and cook a few minutes longer until the sugar and vinegar caramelizes a bit on the edges of the tempeh. (This got real sticky in my pan and some of the sugar burned, but that slight char ends up tasting really good). Remove from heat and chop into bit size pieces.
Back to your dressing. Fish out the garlic clove (it’s ok if some bits stay in, just try to remove the larger pieces of the skin). Whisk in tahini, cheese or nutritional yeast, water if necessary to thin it, and a few red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. More lemon for tartness, more cheese to mellow it out if it’s too tart for you… etc.
Toss kale leaves with (some) of the dressing, add as much or little as you like, to taste. Add scallions, cranberries, parsley, and tempeh pieces and toss again. Plate and garnish with pine nuts & more grated cheese.
Serve with extra dressing on the side.