One of the best things about this time of year is–of course–the food. In the last few weeks, I have scarfed down a variety of vegan delicacies like pumpkin cake, pumpkin pie, maple pecan pie bars, apple cinnamon rolls, date nut muffins, and Ben & Jerry’s caramel almond brittle vegan ice cream (SO yum!). People, I’m a carb-loving freak. At some point, and I’m not exactly sure when, I came to the realization that I needed more salad in my life. And less sugar in my life. Or something like that.
So, I did what any health-conscious and crazy person would do, and committed to join some friends of mine on a fast from desserts throughout the month of November. (What was I thinking???)
At first, I set apart only Thanksgiving Day as an exception to my fast from dessert. Then, I celebrated an early Thanksgiving with my in-laws–so of course, that had to be an exception too. But then there were leftovers of the desserts from that meal–so obviously, I had to help finish those off. And, later, when I was at the grocery store, the vegan Ben & Jerry’s was literally staring me in the face and begging to be eaten, and yeah. Who am I to say no?? Someone’s gotta take a hit for the team.
Long story short, the fast from desserts was a complete and utter flop. And, I am no smaller in size as a result. <sigh>
So, salad. We all need more of it. Think crunchy, bright kale with toasted pecans, dried cranberries, marinated tofu, crispy fried onions, and a garlicky cashew maple dressing drizzled on top.
I know, right?? Aren’t you hungry just thinking about it?
This fab salad is totally going on my Thanksgiving menu this year, and I highly recommend you try for it yourself.
Pro tip: If any Ben & Jerry’s are harassing you in the store this week, just tell ’em that you’re planning to eat salad this week, and invite them to join you. (Because kale salad tastes the greatest when it is followed by vegan ice cream. Duh!)
Cranberry Pecan Kale Salad with Marinated Tofu
For the salad:
- 7-8 oz extra firm tofu or about 1/2 block
- 3 Tbs lemon juice
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried rubbed sage
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 bunch fresh kale about 6 large stems
- 1/2 cup raw pecans
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries mine were sweetened1/2 cup French fried onions (check ingredient list to ensure vegan variety)
- 1/2 large bell pepper julienned (about 1/2 cup cut)
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2-3/4 tsp salt (or to taste. I used 3/4 teaspoon.)
- First, crumble tofu into a medium sized bowl. Add 3 Tbs lemon juice, 2 Tbs olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, sage, and oregano to the tofu, mix well, and set aside.
- Next, place all dressing ingredients in a high speed blender, and blend on high until dressing is completely smooth. If you do not have a high-speed blender, you will want to soak your cashews for several hours prior to blender to create a smooth and creamy dressing. If you like your dressing a little runnier, add an extra tablespoon or two of water.
- Wash kale, and remove leaves from stems. Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Add tofu mixture to kale, and use your hands to gently massage tofu mixture into the kale.
- Place pecans in a dry skillet on medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes–just until pecans are lightly toasted and fragrant. Remove pecans from skillet, and roughly chop.
- Sprinkle chopped pecans, dried cranberries, bell pepper, and French fried onions over the top of kale, and serve.
- Drizzle appropriate dressing amount onto individual salad servings, or serve separately aside kale salad.