Rather than just whip up a quick salad with some lettuce, dressing, and croutons I decided to make something a little more substantial. With my long work days and daily workouts I needed something with some heft. I also wanted something with some carbs to keep me going and some protein to help build myself up. I would have added an avocado for some healthy fat, but unfortunately there were no ripe avos to speak of at home.
I determined that my perfect post-workout salad was going to be served warm. The green portion could come from some steamed kale, and the carbs and protein could come from some freshly cooked quinoa. Tempeh bacon would top the salad off, adding the extra fat and heft that I was craving.
Warm Kale and Quinoa Salad with Caesar-Style Dressing
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
4 or 5 large kale leaves, roughly chopped
1 small carrot, shredded
1 tomato, sliced
1/4 bell pepper, sliced (I used a green pepper)
1/2 cup sliced cucumber
2 green onions, sliced
4 strips tempeh bacon (if desired)
Frozen Daiya vegan cheese, if desired
2 tbsp Vegenaise (or other vegan mayonnaise)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed, to taste
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
Ground black pepper, to taste
1. Start by making the dressing. Combine the Vegenaise, mustard, and olive oil in a small bowl and mix well. Add the garlic, Worcestershire, salt and pepper and stir once more. The dressing can be stored, covered in the fridge for a few days if required. Make it a few hours ahead of time to let the flavors meld, if desired.
2. Rinse the quinoa under cool running water for a few minutes, swishing them around to remove any leftover, bitter coating. Place the quinoa in a small pot with twice as much water or vegetable broth (I use water with 1/2 of a bouillon cube).
3. Cover and bring the water to a boil before reducing the heat. Similar at low heat for about 20 minutes. After the time is up, remove the pot from the heat and fluff with a fork. Allow to sit for a few minutes.
4. Steam the chopped kale by adding it to a large pan or wok with a little bit of water in the bottom. Add salt and pepper, then cover the pan and boil the water for 6-8 minutes.
5. Pan-fry the tempeh bacon for a few minutes each side with a small amount of olive oil. The tempeh just needs to be heated through.
6. When everything is ready, place the kale on the bottom of a small plate and mound the quinoa on top of it. Pour the dressing over top of the quinoa and place the other veggies around it. Top with the tempeh bacon
7. Instead of some kind of vegan Parmesan cheese, I topped my salad with finely grated jalepeno-havarti Daiya, because that is what I had. Freezing the Daiya beforehand allowed me to use my microplane to get a finely grated cloud of cheese on top of my salad. Beautiful.
The salad dressing was really the closest to non-vegetarian caesar dressing that I have made yet, and easily one of the best that I've ever tried. The mustard gives it a little kick while the Worcestershire sauce replaces the anchovy paste present in so many store-bought dressings. Obviously, the vegan mayonnaise makes a good replacement for the raw egg always used in the really fancy stuff. I always new that caesar dressings were not vegan, but I am just now realizing how ridiculously not vegan-friendly caesar salads are. Eggs, fish, cheese. What more could you not ask for?
I always like eating salads, and sometimes a simple salad is just what the doctor ordered, but every now and then you need something a little different. This meal satisfied my salad cravings as well as my food-starved body's desire for lots of hearty food. See you next time, guys and gals.