This tofu feta kale salad is fresh and light, yet packed with plant protein and good nutrition. It’s made with a tangy lemon hemp dressing and sun-dried tomatoes.
Sometimes I get reluctant to make kale salad when I’m in a rush. The thought of de-stemming, washing, drying, and chopping kale can be a little discouraging.
What I forget, however, is that kale salads make great leftovers. Unlike other types of salad, they’re often better after a day or two of storage. They don’t take on the wilted, sad texture that tends to befall mesclun or baby greens.
This means that kale salad is actually a great option for busy, tired weeks. It’s ideal for piping hot days of summer, when I want to spend as little time as possible cooking.
And this tofu feta kale salad is such a good one! It’s full of bright, tangy, lemony flavors. And even though it’s a lighter salad, it packs a lot of protein into each bite.
Kale salad can be prepared in many different ways. Most often, I like to “massage” raw kale with an olive oil based vinaigrette. The oil helps to soften and break the kale down, so that it becomes pleasant to eat in its raw state.
Of course, you can use other types of dressings for massaging your kale. I love tahini dressing on a kale salad, especially this version with mint. I’ve prepared kale salads with peanut butter based dressings, which works well. I love a kale Caesar.
Finally, avocado is a great source of fat for kale salad. Sometimes I just use avocado and lemon for my kale salad “dressing,” and sometimes I use avocado as well as olive oil.
For this tofu feta kale salad, I use a dressing that includes olive oil and shelled hemp seeds, which are a great source of protein and essential fatty acids.
In other words: you can use your favorite fat source (nut butter, tahini, oil, avocado, etc.) and acid source (lemon, vinegar, lime) in your kale salad experiments. No matter what, chop your kale finely, massage it thoroughly, and have fun preparing it!
Kale salad packs in all of the good nutrition that kale provides. Kale is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables—and nutrient dense foods—there is. It’s an excellent source of Vitamins A, K, and C. It provides calcium, fiber, and some plant-protein.
Additionally, kale is rich in phytonutrients, or chemical compounds, that may have a protective effect against chronic diseases.
This tofu feta kale salad provides all of these nutrients as well as plant protein. The protein is thanks mostly to the presence of tofu feta, one of my favorite homemade staples, in the salad.
Simply put, tofu feta is a plant-based spin on feta cheese. It’s made with marinated cubes of tofu, rather than dairy. While not identical to the “real thing” in terms of texture or flavor, it is similarly acidic and rich in umami.
Tofu feta is simple to make. You’ll simply cube tofu and give it a nice, long marinade with nutritional yeast, miso, lemon, salt, and water.
The trick to really great tofu feta is to marinate it for a good long time. Four hours will be enough if you’re in a rush, but if you have time to marinate the tofu overnight, that’s better.
For this tofu feta kale salad, I prefer a plain version of my herbed tofu feta. I simply omit the oregano to achieve this. If you’d prefer to leave the oregano in the tofu feta, that’s totally fine.
Aside from the tofu feta, this salad is relatively simple. You’ll need a bunch of curly kale and some sun-dried tomatoes.
You can use oil-packed or dry sun-dried tomatoes for the salad. If you’re using dry tomatoes, you may need to rehydrate them in warm water before adding them to the salad. Sun-dried tomato packaging will usually indicate whether this step is necessary for softening the tomatoes. Just take a peek at the labeling and follow instructions.
Finally, the tofu feta kale salad gets a boost of flavor from a lemony, slightly garlicky hemp dressing. Hemp seeds are nutritional powerhouses, and I love using them wherever I can—this nutritious salad included. If you don’t have shelled hemp seeds, you can substitute cashews or pine nuts.
This salad is ideal for meal prep and make-ahead cooking. The kale will only become more tender and flavorful as the leftovers sit!
You can store the tofu feta kale salad for up to four days in an airtight container in the fridge. This means that you can certainly prepare it a couple days in advance of serving it to friends, if you’d like to make it part of a summertime lunch.
If you like, you can make the salad even more satisfying and nutritious by adding a whole grain to it. I’ve experimented with folding in cooked farro, barley, and quinoa. They help to make the recipe more of a meal-sized salad, and they add nice, additional texture to the dish!
I can’t rightly end this post without mentioning how much I love the hemp dressing!
It’s similar to other dressings I’ve made, including my cashew lemon dressing and creamy hemp basil sauce. Still, one can never have enough dressings, right? I know I’ll be making this one again and again.
If you like, you can make the dressing oil free. I think a small amount of olive oil helps to give the massaged kale an ideal texture, but it’s not essential to the recipe.
No matter how you serve this summery, protein-rich tofu feta kale salad, I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do.