Kale Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing and Crispy Tempeh Croutons

Yum, Kale Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing and Crispy Tempeh Croutons

This is my current salad obsession and I’ve been making it weekly for the past couple of months. By now, everyone has heard of all the health benefits of kale and about what a superfood it is. It’s true it really is super and not just for the high amount of nutrition in each bite (super crazy amounts of vitamin k, tons of beta carotene & vitamin C, plus a good source of calcium and magnesium), it’s also highly versatile and my go to green for everything from salads, chips, sautés, soups and pesto. One of my favorite things about using kale in salads is how well it holds up to time, which makes it fantastic to make ahead, bring to a party or save leftovers. One of my least favorite things about so many kale salads you find out at shops and restaurants, is the “way too big to enjoy eating” leaves. So my biggest tip for making kale salads great at home, is to be sure to tear or cut your leaves into very small bite size pieces. Smaller bites of kale will be much more tender and a lot easier/more enjoyable to chew.kale salad with creamy cashew dressing

Now I don’t usually get kale salads when I’m out due to the aforementioned giant leaves issue, plus I cook so much at home I like to get dishes I don’t often make myself, but, I was having lunch with Colin’s sister Glynis at Sweet Grass Grill in Tarrytown and they had a kale salad that intrigued me. It had a creamy cashew truffle dressing and was served with crispy grilled salmon on top. I loved the idea of the creamy vegan dressing and I’m a sucker for tender salmon with a crisp exterior. The salmon did not disappoint and the dressing was fantastic, although I will say when I thought about it later I had no memory of the truffle in it. I went home and searched online for a recipe and found a big fat nothing. So instead, I decided to make up my own, starting with a base of cashew cream and adding to that some of my favorite salad dressing ingredients. I tend to like my salad dressings with a bit more acid and a hint of sweetness and since I don’t usually do creamy dressings this was a bit of a departure for me, but I have to say I love it and it has become a regular in our weekly meals. Cashews for Creamy Cashew DressingThe first many times I made this kale salad with creamy cashew dressing, I used orange juice for my sweet component, but the last time I sadly found myself with none on hand, so I substituted maple syrup, using about a third of the amount since it is sweeter and I can’t say which I like better as they’re both delicious.  chopped tempeh

Next on to the Tempeh croutons, I really wanted to make this entirely vegan (although if you’re not, adding a few shards of shaved Pecorino cheese over the top is fantastic) and also make it a complete meal in itself, so I needed a protein and wanted a bit of extra texture too. If you’ve never had tempeh before give it a try. It’s made from soy, but completely different from Tofu. It is fermented which makes it very easy to digest, plus an amazing probiotic. It’s also high in both protein and fiber, which is a rare combination. When marinated and roasted it develops great flavor and a nice crispy texture. I’ve tried a few different brands and really prefer Lightlife to all others.  Tempeh Croutons Marinading

This salad, complete with the tempeh is a perfect main course, but also makes a nice side salad with or without the tempeh, to a more substantial meal and any leftovers are great for lunch or an after school snack if you have a kale salad loving kid like I do. Chopped Rosemary for Creamy Cashew Dressing

 

Kale Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing

and Crispy Tempeh Croutons

Author: Sweet Green Kitchen’s Jen Jones

  Ingredients:

Dressing:

¼ cup Raw Cashews – soaked in water to cover for at least 2 hours

2 Tablespoons Water

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar

3 Tablespoons Orange Juice Or 1 Tablespoon of Maple Syrup

½ Tablespoon Shoyu or Soy Sauce – I use low sodium

1 small clove Garlic

1 teaspoon chopped fresh Rosemary

Sriacha Sauce – a few drops or more to taste

 

Tempeh Croutons:

1 package Tempeh – diced into bite size pieces (I use Lightlife Soy or Flax)

1 small clove Garlic

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

1 Tablespoon Shoyu or Soy Sauce

Red Pepper Flakes – a sprinkling

 

Salad:

1 large bunch Curly Kale – cut or torn into small bite size pieces / ribs removed

Cranberries or Currants – about 2 Tablespoons

2 Tablespoons Sunflower Seeds

Flaked Sea Salt and Rosemary

 

Directions:

Dressing: After soaking cashews, drain and rinse. In a high speed blender (I use my Magic Bullet), add cashews, water, olive oil, vinegar, orange juice or maple syrup, soy sauce, garlic, rosemary and sriacha. Blend until completely smooth and creamy. This can be made hours ahead or even a day, refrigerate dressing if preparing in advance.

Tempeh Croutons: Combine the Tempeh and remaining crouton ingredients and allow to marinate, either a few minutes, a few hours or even overnight (refrigerate if marinating more than a few minutes). Pour into a baking pan and bake at 350 F for 15-25 minutes, turning once, until desired crispness. Remove from the oven and set aside until ready to serve.

Salad assembly: To a large bowl, pour a little of the dressing into the bottom of the bowl and then add in the kale in batches, pouring a little bit of dressing in layers. Top with the remaining dressing. Mix in the cranberries or currants and a bit of extra rosemary. Toss to completely coat all of the kale with the dressing. Then top with sunflower seeds and a little flaked sea salt to taste. Give it a final toss.

Top each serving of salad with some of the Tempeh croutons.

Optional add ins:

Shaved Pecorino Romano

Pickled shallots

Grilled Salmon

kale salad with creamy cashew dressing, tempeh croutons and shaved pecorino

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6 thoughts on “Kale Salad with Creamy Cashew Dressing and Crispy Tempeh Croutons

  1. Glynis Astie October 13, 2014 at 7:17 pm Reply

    This is delicious!!!! Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jill October 20, 2014 at 8:29 pm Reply

    Wow! Jen, great job on your blog and your recipes. The photos are lovely and your instructions are very detailed. The recipes are mouth-watering. I have a question about the Creamy Cashew Dressing. Is it OK to use regular cashews (vs. raw and soaked)?

    Liked by 1 person

    • sweetgreenkitchen October 21, 2014 at 7:29 pm Reply

      Hi Jill – thanks for your very nice comments! I have never made the recipe myself with roasted cashews, my guess is you could use them, but the taste of the dressing will be a little bit different, I don’t think bad just different. Raw cashews have a milder almost a little bit sweet taste and blend up very creamy. Please let me know if you try it and how it turns out.

      Like

  3. Christine November 9, 2014 at 6:37 am Reply

    This looks lovely! My experience with kale salads has been hit and miss, but I think a creamy style dressing will make all the difference. It’s on my list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • sweetgreenkitchen November 9, 2014 at 8:48 am Reply

      Hi Christine, thanks for stopping by and commenting. The dressing for this salad is really delicious, we’re a little bit addicted to it here in my house, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! A few tips I find that really help with kale salads is first to tear or cut the kale into pretty small pieces, when I use curly kale I usually just tear it up and when I use lacinato aka dinosaur kale I like to slice it really thin like a chiffonade. I also like to mix the kale with the dressing A LOT, beat it up a little or massage through with your hands to help tenderize the kale leaves which can be a little tough to chew otherwise. And lastly, I find it really helps to let the salad rest for a little while before serving, 20-30 minutes is good. Leftovers are fantastic as the longer the salad sits around the kale softens up and absorbs more dressing. Good luck, I hope this will help you towards a beautiful new relationship with kale salads!

      Like

  4. […] used it for sweets in this chocolate ganache and raspberry tart and as a savory dressing for this kale salad.  Here I’ve blended my cashews with roasted red peppers for a delicious savory […]

    Like

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