Believe it or not, it’s been a while since I posted a kale salad (the horror!). When I’m busy, a lot of salads take the form of quick bowls, which I’ll assemble based on what I’ve got leftover or in the fridge. The idea of washing and chopping and massaging kale doesn’t feel nearly as quick or easy.
That said, kale salad is one of my favorite things. It’s the recipe that got me to try and ultimately to love kale, which until that point had struck me as a little bitter and tough. It’s a perfect salad for busy folks, because unlike a lot of salads, it keeps very nicely for a night (sometimes, in my experience, even for two). The sturdy texture of kale holds up really well to all kinds of salad ingredients, from roasted vegetables to nuts and seeds to legumes and grains. And somehow, kale salad always feels a little more substantial than a mesclun or romaine or arugula creation.
This is one of my favorite kale salads yet–and that’s saying a lot, given how long I’ve been blogging all things kale. It’s got so much umami and saltiness, thanks to the tofu feta (which contains a nice amount of miso) and sun dried tomato slices. This is also a great recipe because the tofu feta is worthy in its own right. You can use it anyplace you’d normally use feta, be that in a pasta salad dish, a grain salad, a traditional Greek salad, a tofu or chickpea scramble/frittata, a pizza, a stuffed mushroom dish…the options go on and on and on. The longer you marinate the tofu feta before serving, the saltier and more flavorful it’ll become, so allow at least six hours (and do it overnight, if you can).
A small note about the sun dried tomatoes in this recipe: there are a couple of types of sun dried tomatoes. Some are dry (not marinated) and tender. Some are dry and quite tough, and they need to be rehydrated. I do this by soaking the tomatoes in piping hot or boiling water for 15-30 minutes, or until they’re tender, before drying and using. You can also purchase marinated (oil packed) sun dried tomatoes, which often contain garlic or herbs. I’m not too picky about which types of sun dried tomatoes I use, but for the most part, I try to work with the dry ones, because the marinated variety can sometimes add too much extra dressing or garlic/herb flavor to dishes. If you use the dry kind, you can control flavor and texture a little more carefully.
That said, if you’ve got a jar of oil-packed, sun dried tomatoes at home, feel free to use them in this recipe. They’ll work just fine–you may simply need to adjust the dressing quantity as needed.
Kale Salad with Tofu Feta, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Lemon Hemp Dressing
For the Tofu Feta:
- 1 14- ounce block of extra firm tofu drained, patted dry, and cut into cubes
- 3 tablespoons white miso
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice about 2 lemons
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 small clove garlic finely minced or grated
- 2 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the Lemon Hemp Dressing:
- 1/2 cup shelled hemp seeds
- 1 small clove garlic roughly chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons dry oregano or 2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice more if you like your dressing very tart
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
For the Salad:
- 10 sun dried tomato halves preferably dry, not oil-packed
- 1 large bunch curly kale stems removed, leaves washed, dried, and finely chopped (about 7.5 ounces after you de-stem and prepare the kale)
- Prepare the tofu feta. Whisk together the miso, lemon juice, and vinegar (you'll have a thick, smooth paste). Add the water and whisk till smooth, then whisk in the garlic, nutritional yeast, salt, and pepper. Place the cubed tofu in an airtight container (preferably one that's wide enough to allow tofu to rest in a single or double layer) and pour the marinade over the tofu. Shake to distribute the marinade over the tofu, then cover the container and transfer it to a fridge for at least 4-6 hours (preferably overnight).
- If your sun dried tomatoes are tough, rehydrate them by soaking them in boiling or piping hot water for 15-30 minutes, or until tender. Chop them and set them aside (this step isn't necessary if your tomatoes are tender enough on their own).
- To prepare the dressing, blend the hemp seeds, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, lemon juice, water, and oil together in a blender or food processor until smooth.
- Transfer the chopped kale to a large mixing bowl. Dress it with about 2/3 cup dressing, reserving extra dressing for salads or grain bowls. Massage the dressing into the kale with your hands, being sure to coat everything thoroughly. Add the sun dried tomatoes to the salad and mix them in.
- Drain the tofu feta cubes of extra marinade. Crumble the feta over the salad. You can use all of the feta if you like, or use about half of it and save the remaining half for additional salads, pasta dishes, or the like. (I used about 2/3 of the feta in this salad). Mix everything well and add a sprinkle of salt, if needed. Divide into bowls and serve.
I can’t rightly end this post without mentioning how much I love the hemp dressing! I feel as though it’s similar to a lot of other dressings I’ve made, from my cashew lemon dressing to my 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 omit the olive oil from the recipe–I almost always add some oil to kale salad recipes because it does such a great job of helping to soften the kale.
Paired with a cup of cooling summer soup (my easy summer gazpacho, maybe, or my raw tortilla soup), a cup of hearty whole grains, or perhaps a baked sweet potato, it’s a perfectly balanced lunch (or light dinner). From a nutritional perspective, it’s also worth saying that the combination of greens, hemp, and tofu makes this salad protein-packed!
On Thursday, I’ll be back with a new Green Recovery story. It’s wonderfully honest and humble, and I hope you’ll tune in.