Guest Post: Kale Caesar Salad

I met the talented Laura Hemmington during our #aVeganHoliday campaign.  She hails from the United Kingdom and cooks up all kinds of deliciousness.  Laura has made this tempeh bacon (featured below) that I've been dying to try - possibly crumbled as a cupcake topper?!  Read Laura's recipes at her recently relaunched site, The Whole Ingredient.

If someone asks you where you get your protein, send them straight to this recipe. This is a salad that is definitely not lacking in protein, taste or vital nutrients! It's fresh, quick, easy to make, filling and oh so good for you. And if you thought salads were only for summer time, think again - this is one wholesome, comforting bowl of goodness that you'll want to enjoy whatever the weather. Hail to the Super Protein Kale Caesar!

It's no secret that the classic Caesar salad has gained a bit of a bad reputation, especially when you look at the calorie and nutrition content of the cheese, oil and egg-heavy dressing (which of course also make it unsuitable for a plant-based diet). So I've created a new version that means you can still have a Caesar salad with a really tasty, creamy dressing; without worrying about the saturated fats and high cholesterol of the original.

I experimented a lot with the balance of ingredients in this recipe and brought the amount of oil used right down to make it as healthy as possible, and I hope you'll agree that what I've come up with is still really creamy, smooth and packs a real flavour punch. I think this just goes to show you really can eat healthily without losing out on great taste.

Did you know that kale likes to be massaged? Really! Massaging the leaves means that you can eat this super-hero of the brassica family raw, without the bitterness that you might otherwise have tasted. Just rubbing the kale together with some lemon juice, oil and salt softens the leaves and brings out the bright green from within - it's a great trick to know!

The tempeh bacon makes an excellent addition to this salad, not only boosting the protein content, but adding a little something extra to excite your taste buds. It's smoky, crispy and a little salty; making the perfect partner to the creamy dressing and tangy fresh vegetables. It's really simple to make, and constitutes the only non-raw aspect of this meal. If you're in a real hurry, you can make the bacon in advance and store it in the fridge - you'll then have this meal down to under 30 minutes, which is pretty good for something so tasty!

Here are just a few of the great things this Super Protein Kale Caesar Salad will give you:

  • antioxidants and iron from the kale, to help cell growth and protect your body;
  • omega 3 from the linseeds - also known as flaxseeds - for a healthy brain, immune system and heart (a real superfood);
  • an intense boost of protein power (over 60g) from the tempeh, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, kale and avocado;
  • magnesium, from the pumpkin seeds, to support lots of vital bodily processes;
  • the heart-health benefits of cashews, thought to help lower cholesterol; and
  • a  deceptively filling meal!

REPARATION TIME - 20 mins

COOKING TIME - 20 mins

TOTAL TIME- 40 mins

 Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS
I converted the metric measurements for you!

  • For the tempeh bacon:
  • 200g tempeh (about 7 oz) 
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke
  • 3 tbsp tamari, or other good soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • optional: 5g melted coconut oil (1/2 tsp solid)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
     
  • For the salad:
  • 200g kale (1 cup) / cavolo nero + 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp good oil (such as rapeseed, flaxseed or olive oil), ½ tsp Himalayan pink salt (or other good salt)
  • 200g chestnut mushrooms (1 cup) + 1 tsp good oil, 3 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp liquid aminos (or soy sauce), pinch cayenne pepper
  • 200g vine or baby tomatoes, sliced in half (1 cup)
  • 70g fresh basil (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 avocado, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp golden linseeds
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • For the Caesar dressing:
  • 70g pre-soaked cashews (about 1/3 cup)
  • 80 ml water (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 tbsp good oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
  • 1½ tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 4 cloves garlic, roasted
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt & pepper, to taste

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / Gas Mark 6.
  2. Prepare the tempeh by slicing as thinly as you can. Lay the slices carefully in a dish, combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and pour over. Set aside.
  3. Take the leafy bits of the kale by cutting away the the tough centre stalk and combine these in a large bowl with the oil, salt and lemon juice. Massage together for a minute or so, as if you were kneading bread.
  4. Wash, pat dry and slice the mushrooms. Combine these in a separate bowl with the oil, lemon, aminos and cayenne.
  5. Arrange the tempeh bacon slices on a parchment-lined tray and drizzle over any remaining marinade. Place on the top shelf of the oven and cook for 20 minutes, turning half way through. (On turning the tempeh, put the four garlic cloves for the Caesar dressing on the tray. These should be unpeeled, but with the root end removed.)
  6. Take the tempeh from the oven and peel the roasted garlic.
  7. To make the dressing, put all the ingredients (not forgetting the garlic) in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Test for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  8. To assemble the salad, add the tomatoes, avocado, mushrooms, basil, pumpkin and linseeds to the kale and give it a gentle stir.
  9. Once on plates, crumble on the tempeh (or keep as slices), sprinkle with the sesame and chia seeds and drizzle over the dressing. 

NOTES

*Soak the cashew nuts in water at least a couple of hours in advance - this can even be done overnight and kept in the fridge
*It's really easy to make this recipe to your own tastes and what you have at home: swap red wine vinegar for apple cider vinegar, choose a different unrefined seed oil or use a gluten free alternative to soy sauce.

Don't forget to visit Laura at The Whole Ingredient for more recipe ideas :-)