Crunchy Kale & Quinoa Salad w/ Apple Cider Tempeh & Cinnamon Vinaigrette

November 16, 2017

Crunchy Kale & Quinoa Salad w/ Apple Cider Tempeh & Cinnamon Vinaigrette by Faring Well

I had a WOAH moment the other day that has me slightly laughing at my current situation. I was trying to brainstorm recipes for this year’s Thanksgiving, i.e. blending sauces, roasting vegetables, and making way too many gratins and things flavored with sage. There I was, standing in the kitchen looking at all of my Thanksgiving dishes either completed, half done, or still in the early stages, and thinking I really don’t want to eat any of this food. I asked myself what kind of Thanksgiving food I would like to eat, and it was none. What did this new realization mean? Had I always disliked Thanksgiving food? Was it only the nostalgia that has kept me going all of these years? I thought back to what I enjoyed about previous holiday dinners, realizing all I did was load up on veggies and save room for several slices of pie (priorities). Basically this holiday is the kickoff for Christmas season, was that maybe what got me excited all of these years? Maybe it will pass, maybe I will fall in love with a bite of some unknown holiday dish in the future that will rekindle my love for T-Day food. But for now all I want is a plate of tamales or a really good veggie burger or something. Now to the situation that has me laughing, I am (for the first time ever) hosting Thanksgiving this year.

Dramatic introduction aside, it is really only my mom and dad who are driving out from Phoenix to our home here in Costa Mesa for Thanksgiving. Plus Scott and I, that makes it a pretty easy four mouths to feed – which I’m grateful for on my first attempt to host something other than a casual soup and bread dinner party. Scott isn’t a huge fan of Thanksgiving food either, and my parents are really laid back, so I have those two things thankfully working in my favor. But that still leaves me with what do I make? What would you recommend to someone who doesn’t want any stuffing, cranberry sauce, or overcooked vegetables on the table? Please leave notes with recommendations if you have any, otherwise we may end up making pizza. Which wouldn’t be entirely terrible. (Don’t worry mom and dad, if you’re reading this, we won’t have pizza.)

One dish that might be able to hang at the table would be this salad, but I plan on eating it every day from now until next Thursday ;) so I may need a break. I dove head first into bowls of hot food the second the temps dipped below seventy five degrees last month, and have been missing by summer-veggie-laden bowls of greens. So I decided to hunt for a combination that would have me feeling cozy and fall-y while still resembling a nice big green salad. Torn curly kale leaves that have been lightly steamed and tossed with quinoa form the base of this recipe. I added chopped almonds for crunch, and tart dried cherries for some sweetness and tang. The apple cider tempeh is my new favorite to make in a big batch and keep in the fridge for adding to salads, sandwiches, and veggie bowls during the week. Total fall vibes with it’s sweet and tart apple marinade. I didn’t want to create a dressing that would take away from or burry the flavors of these ingredients too much, and almost told you to just drizzle the dish in olive oil and lemon juice (which still wouldn’t be terrible). But I felt like something a little more sweet and spiced would help bring out a lot of the flavor in the tempeh and dried cherries. I even think the nutty chopped almonds benefit from it a bit too! Cinnamon. It’s heat and spice bring this entire dish together.

I hope if any of you are in salad ruts as well that this recipe brings you some variety and inspiration. I love eating it freshly prepped, while still warm, but equally love it cold out of the fridge the following day for an easy lunch too. So now tell me, what are you all planning on making for Thanksgiving? Or eating ;) maybe you aren’t the one cooking! Either way, I’d love to hear. And if you have any tips for my aforementioned issue above, I (and Scott, and my parents) would be so grateful!

One more week until it’s socially appropriate to blair “Deck the Halls” all day long and wear oddly decorated fuzzy socks and put chocolate and peppermint in everything! Eeeee! -xx

Crunchy Kale & Quinoa Salad w/ Apple Cider Tempeh & Cinnamon Vinaigrette by Faring WellCrunchy Kale & Quinoa Salad w/ Apple Cider Tempeh & Cinnamon Vinaigrette by Faring WellCrunchy Kale & Quinoa Salad w/ Apple Cider Tempeh & Cinnamon Vinaigrette by Faring WellCrunchy Kale & Quinoa Salad w/ Apple Cider Tempeh & Cinnamon Vinaigrette by Faring WellCrunchy Kale & Quinoa Salad w/ Apple Cider Tempeh & Cinnamon Vinaigrette by Faring WellCrunchy Kale & Quinoa Salad w/ Apple Cider Tempeh & Cinnamon Vinaigrette by Faring WellCrunchy Kale & Quinoa Salad w/ Apple Cider Tempeh & Cinnamon Vinaigrette by Faring Well


Makes 2 salad servings, with extra tempeh. 

1 large bunch of curly kale
1 cup cooked quinoa
3 tablespoons raw almonds
3 tablespoons tart dried cherries, unsweetened

1 8-ounce block of plain tempeh
1/2 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
fine sea salt

2 tablespoons peppery olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt & pepper

Prepare the tempeh: Slice the block of tempeh into quarters. Then slice those quarters in half width-wise, and then into triangles (there should be 16 triangles total). Place in a single layer in a ceramic/glass baking dish (oven safe). Whisk the apple cider, apple cider vinegar, and dijon mustard together in bowl. Pour over the tempeh and let marinate for 30 minutes, flipping the tempeh halfway through.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly sprinkle the top of the tempeh with sea salt and place the dish of tempeh in the oven and bake for 40 minutes, or until the marinade has been fully absorbed. Set aside to cool slightly before plating, and store fully cooled leftover tempeh in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to four days.

Prepare the dressing: Combine all of the dressing ingredients, except for the salt and pepper, in a small jar. Seal shut and shake until the dressing is emulsified. Set aside (can be made in advance and refrigerated).

Prepare the salad: Tear the curly leaves from the stalks of kale, making sure to tear them into bite size pieces. Compost the thick stems. Place the leaves in a steamer basket in a pot on the stove, filled with a half inch of water. Bring to a simmer, cover, and steam for 2 minutes. Remove from the pot immediately and place in a large bowl for tossing the salad. Add the cooked quinoa (can be cold from the fridge, prepped ahead of time). Finely chop the almonds, and roughly chop the dried cherries. Add these to the bowl as well, and get your dressing jar handy.

Using your hands, toss the salad together. Drizzle the dressing on top, and toss again with your hands until everything is evenly coated. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Toss one last time, and (still using your hands) scoop even amounts of the salad into two bowls. Top with a few triangles of the apple cider tempeh, and any extra chopped almonds and cherries if you’d like. Serve right away.

Note: If storing one of the salads for later, place in an airtight glass container in the fridge and enjoy the following day. A half an avocado on top of the chilled version isn’t half bad either. 

I love seeing what you create! Be sure to tag your photos on Instagram with #FWmakers.

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  • Reply Shelley November 16, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    This salad is EVERYTHING I crave this time of year — all the right flavours, textures and ingredients. Definitely going into the lunch roster for next week. I’ll report back ;)

    • Reply Faring Well November 17, 2017 at 7:25 am

      You and me both Shelley! I’m so excited for you to give this one a try, can’t wait to hear how it goes! <3

  • Reply Lacey November 17, 2017 at 5:12 am

    This looks divine. Yum.

    We’re hosting for the first time this year and making 2 pies (cuz, priorities) a shredded kale salad, stuffing (minimalist baker’s recipe, my fav), and roasted potatoes and brussel sprouts! My family is helping with the turkey (locally sourced, pasture-raised, but I am still not eating any :P) mashed taters, and a few other sides. And lots of wine ;) I hope yours turns out lovely!!

    • Reply Faring Well November 17, 2017 at 7:27 am

      Thank you tons Lacey! You’re spread sounds wonderful. I hope you have an lovely time hosting Thanksgiving too! I may need to pop over to MB’s site, her recipes never fail me either ;) thank you for the inspiration!

      • Reply katie November 18, 2017 at 9:52 am

        I can’t wait to make this recipe after hosting family this weekend for Thanksgiving!! I am thankful that my husband does a lot of the cooking :) but one of my vegan contributions will be MB’s vegan cornbread stuffing! I made a trial-run and it was delicious and beautiful and just traditional enough to work, but different enough that I still WANT TO EAT IT! Ahh I know just what you mean about tgiving food! Also mushroom gravy from Oh She Glows cookbook; sooo good! Roasted brussels, and POUTINE instead of mashed potatoes as an homage to our family vacation to Canada this summer! When hosting a family meal, gotta make it your own! Have a great time with your family!

        • Reply Faring Well November 18, 2017 at 2:26 pm

          AH MB is the best! I love your favorites here Katie, thank you for sharing what you will be cooking with me! I hope you have the most wonderful holiday with your family, and way to go to your man for helping with so much of the cooking. What a great guy. Ps. Love that you are making poutine thanks to your family vacay, such a sweet idea!

  • Reply Lauren November 17, 2017 at 9:30 am

    I watched a Thanksgiving episode of Iron Chef last night where Bobby Flay made a sweet potato tamale topped with a pomegranate and tomatillo salsa and I would not be opposed to eating that on Thanksgiving :) I think it’s perfectly acceptable for you to change up the menu and I can’t wait to hear what you menu you decided on!

    • Reply Faring Well November 18, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      I love you for sharing that with me Lauren! That, sounds, amazing. Bobby would think of something that creative ;). Thank you for the encouragement to do things a little different too, I’m really excited. We’ve decided on a “California themed” holiday, so I’m going to make all of my favorite dishes using the produce that was most prevalent at the FM this morning – stoked! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving too! <3

  • Reply Freya November 17, 2017 at 10:13 am

    This salad sounds delicious! But I’ve never ventured into the world of Tempeh before and I’m a bit nervous haha! Looks great though, definitely going to give it a go :)

    • Reply Faring Well November 18, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      I hope you love it if you do give it a go Freya! :)

  • Reply Tracey November 19, 2017 at 8:17 am

    Yum, this looks delicious! This salad would be a winner at the dinner table on Thanksgiving day! It’s similar to a recipe I am going to make, but it’s stuffed in roasted acorn squash and topped with chickpeas. I’ll have to make the acv tempeh now, cause two toppings are better than one! Another plant-based staple for our Thanksgiving is mac-n-cheese :) Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Reply Faring Well November 20, 2017 at 11:34 am

      This sounds os wonderful! I was actually just thinking about how tasty this would be stuffed in squash ;) you totally read my mind. I hope you have a gorgeous thanksgiving now too Tracey! xx

  • Reply Liam November 19, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Hi. Love the post, as always! I was unsure where to ask this, thought the comments would be a good idea so everyone can chip in…. I have recently joined Instagram and I’m looking for some vegan oriented accounts to follow, stuff that is different from the norm.
    I have found VeganBanter, their stuff is hilarious.
    What are your favourite few IG accounts to follow.

    • Reply Faring Well November 20, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Hi Liam! Thank you tons. And as for accounts, I would look up The First Mess, Minimalist Baker, Earthy Andy, and Deliciously Ella for some of my faves <3.

  • Reply Gena November 19, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Gah! Everything looks as awesome as it did on the Insta ;-)

    I make a really similar tempeh recipe, especially in the fall, and I absolutely adore it. I can only imagine how nicely it plays with all of the other yummy/crunchy/sweet ingredients here! This salad is stellar, Jessie. Thanks for sharing <3

    • Reply Faring Well November 20, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Thank you for the recipe kudos Gena! I would love to try your tempeh recipe sometime, I’m sure it’s so delicious <3 I tend to really crave it this time of year. Hoping you have the most wonderful holiday this week friend, xo.

  • Reply Devon November 24, 2017 at 6:05 am

    Hi! I made this salad for our Thanksgiving and it was AMAZING. Everyone loved it! I’ve never added cinnamon to a vinaigrette until making this. Woah is it tasty : )

    • Reply Faring Well November 26, 2017 at 7:42 am

      Ah this just made my weekend to read Devon! Thank you for trusting my recipe on such a special occasion, goodness, I’m really flattered and SO grateful you and everyone loved it! <3

  • Reply Allison November 29, 2017 at 5:01 am

    I love the addition of cinnamon in the vinaigrette- it sounds so cozy! Do you think the marinade and method would work with tofu, also? (I’m sorry to ask about switching things up- I have tofu already and wondered if it might work?) Happy holidays to you. :)

    • Reply Faring Well November 29, 2017 at 7:08 am

      Hi Allison! Thank you tons, I’m excited for you to make this too :) as for the tofu – I’m not positive about the overall texture after baking, but it may do okay? I think it might be worth a try. If it’s too soft still after baking maybe a little time in a pan on the stove would help it’s texture. Happy holidays back to you too! <3

  • Reply KJ | Om Nom Herbivore January 17, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Pinned this for lunch ideas!! :D I only ever loved the rolls and sides with a little sliver of pie. Other than getting to see my cousins and have a sleep over, thanksgiving (foodwise) was never my jam!

    • Reply Faring Well January 18, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      Aw yay! I hope you love it if you give it a try KJ <3.

  • Reply Talia January 30, 2018 at 3:46 am

    I just made a modified version (just using what i have!) of this using seitan instead of tempeh (first time cooking with seitan!), black quinoa instead of regular and purple cabbage instead of kale… and it came out amazing! Your recipes are always on point with texture, flavors, and ingredients. You and minimalist baker of course are the only two food accounts I follow and for some reason I find myself always making your recipes, so a big thank you, as always :)

    • Reply Faring Well January 30, 2018 at 9:18 am

      That sounds like an amazing twist Talia! I’m so happy you enjoyed the recipe tons, and your compliment is probably the best I could ever receive – I adore Dana at MB with all my heart! XO

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