Chopped Kale Salad with Pan Seared Herb Tofu

This hearty Chopped Kale Salad is topped with pan seared herb tofu, Brussels sprouts, sliced apples, pecans and a creamy tahini dressing. Full of flavor and easy to put together.

Full view of chopped kale salad topped with tofu, brussels, sprouts, dried cherries, apples and pecans.

When I was a dietetic intern, I did a rotation with a wellness center that I absolutely LOVED. It didn’t feel like work at all and I got to work with some great communities and provide wellness education for many individuals. One project I worked on was encouraging some warehouse workers to eat some veggies.

One thing I found out quickly was that they didn’t necessarily hate their veggies… they just hated plain veggies or vegetables with no flavor. My group introduced them to kale, but instead of just throwing some greens in a bowl, we focused on boosting it’s flavor and modifying it’s texture to make it softer and more tender.

Key Ingredients and Substitutions

  • Kale: I used Lactino Kale, but feel free to use curly kale. I find Lactino kale easier to clean.
  • Tofu: I used extra firm tofu that I pressed using my tofu press. But you can also use super firm tofu to help avoid the extra time and prep.
  • Cornstarch: It helps to crisp up the tofu. You can also use some potato starch as well.
  • Brussels Sprouts: I love Brussels sprouts, but feel free to use another veggie of your choice.
  • Apple: I love sliced apples in this, it gives a lovely sweet and tangy bite. I went for Pink Lady apples and sliced them thin. Totally optional if you aren’t much of a fruit in salad person.
  • Quinoa: This was my starch of choice, but you can completely leave this out and use this as a side salad. If you need some alternatives you can use grains like couscous, farro, or wheat berries.
  • Toppings: I went with dried cherries and chopped pecans, but go wild. You can swap the pecans for roasted pepitas for a nut-free version or opt for cranberries if those are an easier dried fruit to find.

How to Prepare Your Chopped Kale Salad

Prepare your quinoa according to it’s package. Then dice your tofu into cubes and place in an airtight container with the cornstarch, garlic powder, thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Seal the container and give a good shake to coat. Place the tofu in a heated pan with oil and pan fry the tofu to brown on both sides. Add in your sliced Brussels sprouts and stir occasionally to allow the sprouts to brown and sear lightly to cook through.

To a large bowl add your de-stemmed kale with some oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper. With your hands knead the greens until they start shrinking in size and are a deeper green color.

Add your quinoa to the kale along with the tofu and Brussels sprouts and give a quick toss. Serve the mix in a bowl and top with some fresh sliced apples, dried cherries and pecans. Then drizzle with your dressing and serve.

Tips for Layering Your Salad

  • Massage your kale. If you leave your kale as is after washing, it won’t have much flavor outside of just bitter. To help break it down and make it softer and more enjoyable, make sure you rub your kale leaves well to help break down some of the fibers.
  • Change up the textures. I love the soft bites of kale along with the chewy tofu and the crunch of the pecans and apple slices. Add a creamy element like the dressing or some cubed avocado.
  • Season throughout. If you noticed, there are seasonings used at every step of this salad preparation. Doing this ensures that each bite is loaded with flavor.

What to Serve Your Salad With

I love this salad with this delicious Miso Ginger Tahini Salad Dressing. The tangy and lightly sweet flavors of the dressing help to balance out the hearty greens and herby tofu. I also find that it makes the dressing feel more satisfying most likely because tahini has additional fiber and protein in it that helps to promote satiety.

Feel free to serve as is or use as a side salad to enjoy with any main dish you are serving.

Close up of salad bowl topped with creamy dressing.

Storing Your Kale Salad

If storing for meal prep, store the kale, tofu, Brussels sprouts and quinoa in one container and your toppings in another. Wait to slice your apple until the time you plan to enjoy your salad. Then pour your dressing over top. Your ingredients should keep well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I bake my tofu?

Absolutely! For baking, I recommend setting your oven to 400F. When coating your tofu you can add a little oil to the mix or replace the cornstarch for some nutritional yeast to help crisp it up a little better. You can also cook your Brussels sprouts using the same method. Just toss with some oil, extra thyme, salt and pepper and make sure to spread the tofu out in a single layer on your baking sheet. Cook for 20-25 minutes, flipping after 15 minutes of baking.

How do I make a salad flavorful?

It’s all in what you add to your greens. If just adding a dressing to your salad doesn’t give you the flavor you want, make sure to add a little salt and pepper to your greens along with other fresh or dry herbs. In this salad the greens are flavored with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper and then complimented with some herby tofu. But definitely feel free to experiment with some other flavors to fit your preference.

Can I replace the oil when messaging the greens?

You can either use a spoonful of this tahini salad dressing to massage into the greens or 1/4 of an avocado. Follow the same technique of massaging into the greens to help soften them.

How can I make this nut free?

Swap out the pecans with some roasted pepitas. I love them as they also add a nice crunch and provide extra zinc and magnesium.

How can I stop my apples from browning?

My biggest suggestion if you are using this for food prep is to prepare your ingredients separately and slice your apple when you are ready to serve your salad. Squeeze with a little lemon to help preserve it as you eat it.

More Hearty Salad Recipes to Try

Side view of a bowl of kale, quinoa, and tofu topped with apple slices and pecans.
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Top down view of salad bowl topped with miso ginger dressing.

Chopped Kale Salad with Pan Seared Herb Tofu

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 6 reviews
  • Author: Catherine Perez
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This hearty vegan Chopped Kale Salad is loaded with pan seared herb tofu, brussels sprouts, apples, pecans and a creamy tahini dressing.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1/2 cup dried quinoa or 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 block (~450 g) extra firm tofu, pressed, drained and cubed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dry thyme, divided
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 910 small Brussels sprouts, halved or quartered
  • 1 bunch of Lactino Kale, destemmed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 medium sized apple, I used Pink Lady
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • Miso Ginger Tahini Salad Dressing

Instructions

  1. Prepare your quinoa according to package. For extra flavor, replace the suggested amount of water with vegetable broth.
  2. In an airtight container add in the cornstarch, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme, salt and pepper and mix well. Add in your tofu, seal your container and give a gentle toss to completely coat your tofu.
  3. Heat up a large skillet over medium high heat and then add half your oil allowing a minute to warm through. Add in your tofu pieces making sure they fit in one even layer, then allow to cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes or until your tofu has become golden, then flip and cook on the opposite side for an additional 3 minutes or until the tofu has seared.
  4. To the pan, add in your Brussels sprouts and remaining thyme. Continue to stir occasionally, allowing the Brussel sprouts to start lightly browning and searing on both sides, about 4-5 minutes. Once cooked to your liking, remove from heat and prepare the kale.
  5. Add the kale, lemon juice and a pinch of salt to a large mixing bowl and gently rub the kale until it turns a deeper green color and softens.
  6. Now assemble your salad. Top your greens with the quinoa and tofu mix and give a good toss to combine. Serve your salad mix with the additional toppings including the sliced apples, pecans, and dried cherries. Then drizzle with your dressing and serve.

Notes

Massage your kale. If you leave your kale as is after washing, it won’t have much flavor outside of just bitter. To help break it down and make it softer and more enjoyable, make sure you rub your kale leaves well to help break down some of the fibers.

Change up the textures. I love the soft bites of kale along with the chewy tofu and the crunch of the pecans and apple slices. Add a creamy element like the dressing or some cubed avocado.

Season throughout. If you noticed, there are seasonings used at every step of this salad preparation. Doing this ensures that each bite is loaded with flavor.

Storage. If storing for meal prep, store the kale, tofu and Brussels sprouts and quinoa in one container and your toppings in another. Wait to slice your apple until the time you plan to enjoy your salad. Then pour your dressing over top. Your ingredients should keep well in the fridge for up to 3-4 days.

If you tried this recipe or any other recipe on the blog, then let me know what you thought in the comments below! And if you loved it, don’t forget to rate it too. Feel free to follow on Instagram, Pinterest, and TikTok for the latest nutrition tips and recipe videos.

β˜… Catherine

This post contains affiliate links which means I will make a small commission if you purchase from those links. I only recommend and share products that I know, trust and personally use myself!

11 Comments

  1. Hello Catherine,

    How much gram is 1 bunch of kale after preparing/chopping and removing the stems?
    Because here in The Netherlands I can buy in the supermarket only a bag with 150 gram chopped organic kale.
    Do I need 1 bag or 2 bags (or more?) for this recipe you think?

    Greetings,
    Savitri

    1. Hi Savitri! So sorry I didn’t get to this sooner. I would say a typical bunch is about 198 grams with stems. I’m not exactly sure without the stems, but 150grams sounds like it should be right. I will be sure to measure this by tomorrow as I will be using some kale tomorrow.

      1. It was very very delicious πŸ˜‹πŸ€©πŸ˜‹πŸ˜πŸ˜‹ !!!
        I used 2 bags of kale and 20 Brussels sprouts so my twin daughters could take the leftovers for school lunch the next day.

        Toppings I used:
        dried cranberries, apple, pecans and miso ginger tahini salad dressing.
        So tasty πŸ˜‹.

        Thank you Catherine for sharing this lovely recipe.

        Greetings from Savitri and twin daughters πŸ‘©β€πŸ‘§β€πŸ‘§
        From The Netherlands






  2. Absolutely delicious salad – the only change I made was baking the tofu rather than frying – tossed w/ the cornstarch and spices and it turned out great. My husband said it was one of the best salads he’s ever had! Thanks, Catherine!






  3. HI! Super excited about making this but I don’t see corn starch listed in the ingredients list. How much do I use?

    1. Hi Kaitlyn! Sorry about the confusion there. There was a glitch in my recipe card, but should be fixed now. It’s 1 tsp cornstarch. Hope you enjoy the salad!

  4. Um, yum. I made some subs as suggested (farro and dried cranberries) to use things I had on hand and so good! Can definitely see this one as a fall staple!






  5. This salad has been on repeat for me for months. That dressing is *chefs kiss* and I feel like my tummy is so happy with all those nutrients and filling fiber and protein! Thank you!






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