I know, I’ve used 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 here instead.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus some zest
- 1 teaspoon honey or agave
- 1 garlic clove
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- Grated pecorino or parmesan cheese, reserve some for garnish (omit if vegan, or replace with nutritional yeast)
- Water to thin, as needed
- A few pinches of red pepper flakes
- Large bunch of kale
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 2-3 scallions, chopped, white and green parts
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts or other nuts
- ½ package tempeh, sliced into ¼″ thick strips
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Splash of soy sauce
- Splash of balsamic
- Drizzle of honey
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Start the dressing: In a small bowl combine the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, honey, and a few pinches salt and pepper. Give your garlic clove a good smash and drop it in. You’re going to fish it out later, after it sits and infuses garlic flavor into the oil (alternatively, just mince it in). Set aside while you work on the other components.
- Drizzle the 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 the oven and let cool to room temperature. Stack the leaves and chop them, removing the coarser 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 it starts to brown. Then add a splash of soy sauce and balsamic. Flip around to coat all sides. Add a drizzle of honey and cook a few minutes longer until the sugar and vinegar caramelize a bit on the edges of the tempeh. (This got 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 bite size pieces.
- Finish the 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 the tahini, cheese or nutritional yeast, water if necessary to thin it, and a few red pepper flakes. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
- Toss the kale leaves with some of the dressing, adding as much or little as you like. Add the 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.