Who says salads have to be cold, limp veggies in boring dressing out of a plastic container? Not this lady! I figure: if we're going to work more veggies into everyday (which, let's be serious, we could all be trying to do more of!), they better be delicious.
My favorite ways to make a salad more interesting? Texture, warmth and color. A lot of recipes do this with bacon. We are not using bacon here. :) Instead, we're relying on the surprising meatiness of tempeh -- an Indonesian staple made from fermented soy. The bacteria used to ferment the beans not only provide B Vitamins and benefit our gut flora, they also pre-digest some of the soy for us, making tempeh easier for the body to break down. Because tempeh is made from whole soy beans, it's a more complete, less refined soy product than tofu or soy milk. Have you tried it before?
This spinach salad was the product of necessity. Its creation - like so many of the things I make at home - went something like this:
i. It's hot out. I would like a salad.
ii. I am going to consult the fridge and figure out what I can put into said salad.
iii. Improvise throwing things together.
Sound familiar? Please tell me you cook this way, too. ;) I love feeling a little flexible to make whatever my body happens to be asking for on a given day: it makes it so much easier - and more delicious - to choose nourishing foods when they're really what your body needs. The draw towards junk is far less powerful... it's just a question of being able to ask and listen to what your physical being is looking for at a given meal. (Having some ingredients on hand to play with is helpful, too.) Check out this post on veggie centric meals with a pantry full of staple ingredients for more ideas.
This salad combines interesting texture (pumpkin seeds) with warm ingredients (crumbled tempeh and crispy shallots), along with a buttery tahini dill dressing and peppers for color. We had green peppers on hand, but if you're looking to make this even more of a rainbow, red, yellow or orange ones would work just as well.
The crumbled tempeh is super easy to make: it bakes up with some oil and spices, and you can prep your veggies, dressing and other warm ingredients while you wait. Unlike my usual Unbelievably Vegan Tempeh, this stuff takes half the time to cook. (Remember grade 8 science class where you learned about surface area? Tiny pieces of tempeh cook up much more quickly than cubes. Something to keep in mind if you're dying to have this, but you're short on time.) :)
We served ours with a little homemade garlic 'naan'. Combine 1 tsp olive oil with 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Spread on a brown rice tortilla, then top with vegan cheese. Toss this into the oven on a baking tray in the last 6-7 minutes of tempeh baking time. Remove when the cheese is melted and the edges of your 'naan' are browned.
This also makes a great make-ahead lunch if you're thinking ahead for tomorrow's leftover plan. Take the dressing separately and combine with your greens just before serving, just to avoid sogginess.
Yay for interesting, nourishing, filling meal-sized salads!
- 1 cup tempeh, broken up into little crumbles
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 medium green pepper, seeded and chopped
- 4-5 cups baby spinach
- 1/4 cup buttery tahini dill dressing (recipe link below)
- 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
- 1. Preheat oven to 375F.
- 2. Combine 1 tbsp olive oil, cumin, garlic powder and paprika in a bowl. Add tempeh and mix until coated.
- 3. Spread tempeh on a foil-lined tray and bake for 20 minutes until browned.
- 4. In the meantime, prepare your dressing per the instructions at the link below. Set aside in the fridge.
- 5. Heat remaining oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for 1-2 minutes until softened. Add green pepper and continue to sautee for 4-5 minutes more, until shallots are crisped. Remove from heat and set aside.
- 6. Toss greens with dressing, then top with tempeh, sauteed veggies and pumpkin seeds. Divide into bowls and serve.
- Tahini Dill Dressing recipe: http://fromthegroundupwellness.com/recipes/buttery-tahini-dill-dressing/
- We served ours with a little homemade garlic naan. Combine 1 tsp olive oil with 1/2 tsp garlic powder. Spread on a brown rice tortilla, then top with vegan cheese. Toss this into the oven on a baking tray in the last 6-7 minutes of tempeh baking time. Remove when the cheese is melted and the edges of your 'naan' are browned.