This hearty winter salad features tandoori spiced crispy chickpeas, massaged lemony kale and a creamy roasted garlic & tahini dressing. It is more than satisfying enough for a dinner entrée and makes a lovely, healthy addition to any holiday spread. We're serving this zesty vegan salad with our bold and spicy take on Thanksgiving, and invite you to as well.
While the holiday season is often lauded as a time for excess, we're taking a slightly different approach this year. Since we're doing a socially distanced Thanksgiving, we've decided to amp up the spice level on some traditional dishes and do a brighter, spicier take on turkey dinner. This vegan Kale Salad with Spicy Chickpeas and Garlic Tahini Dressing is so tasty, it almost outshines the bird.
Table of Contents
- How to Make Spicy (& Crispy!) Roasted Chickpeas
- How to Make Roasted Garlic and Tahini Dressing
- How to Assemble This Vegan Winter Salad
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Want more veggie inspiration? Check out these other recipes:
Joe and I have been on a bit of a health kick lately after we both stumbled a bit during quarantine. We've cut out booze (temporarily - we're not saints!) and have been exercising more regularly. We're getting to bed earlier and, as a result, waking up earlier and more refreshed. And we're also eating a whole lot more vegetables.
In normal times, Thanksgiving is a holiday that I absolutely have to wear spandex. Not only do I give myself a pass at self-control on food centric holidays (I kinda live for food), the meal is usually exceptionally decadent.
Since we're having a very pared-down guest list this year (it's just us!), I decided to also pare down the calorie content and replace it with some major flavor. And I have to tell you, I'm not even a little bit sad about it.
How to Make Spicy (& Crispy!) Roasted Chickpeas
Crispy chickpeas are easily one of my favorite snacks, and they do a bang up job of acting like protein packed croutons in this yummy kale salad. First up, pop open a can of chickpeas and drain the liquid.
TIP: If you're into vegan baking, save that chickpea liquid! Also known as aquafaba, it does an excellent job of mimicking eggs.
Toss the drained chickpeas with olive oil and a tandoori spice mix. You can use store bought spice mix or make your own. You can also substitute any number of flavors here - a packet of ranch seasoning, taco seasoning or curry powder would all be super yummy too.
Mix until the chickpeas are well coated in seasoning, then spread out in a single layer.
Roast at 375F for 30-45 minutes, tossing with a spoon every 15 minutes. Chickpeas will be golden and crunchy when they're done.
How to Make Roasted Garlic and Tahini Dressing
This yummy salad dressing packs a big punch of flavor thanks to the addition of a whole head of roasted garlic. If you've never made roasted garlic before, now's the time. And since it tastes yummy spread on toast like butter, or added to any number of veggies, I made a few extra heads worth. I recommend you do, too! This is a great way to use up garlic that might be on it's way out.
Roasting garlic is quite simple. First up, remove the top of the garlic head, exposing at least a little bit of all the cloves of garlic. Remove any excess papery skins.
Place the head(s) of garlic in foil and drizzle with about a teaspoon of olive oil each. Use your fingers to rub it in.
Once the garlic has olive oil, wrap up the head(s) in the foil like a little ball. Place them in the same oven as your chickpeas and roast for 45 minutes to an hour.
You'll know the garlic is done when the cloves are golden brown and very soft to the touch. Check around the 45 minute mark, leaving to roast longer if necessary.
Once the garlic is roasted, allow it to cool enough to handle. Using a fork or an immersion blender (my preferred method for perfectly emulsified salad dressing), mix together roasted garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, maple syrup and tahini.
If needed, add hot water a teaspoon at a time to thin the dressing to your liking. Season with salt and pepper.
TIP: If you're trying to get ahead, feel free to make this dressing up to a week in advance. It should keep well if covered and refrigerated.
How to Assemble This Vegan Winter Salad
When you're ready to assemble your salad, dump stemmed and roughly chopped kale into a mixing bowl. Drizzle it with the juice of one lemon and a tablespoon of olive oil. Using your hands, massage the kale to soften it. When properly massaged, the kale should lose about 30% of it's volume.
Dress the kale with the roasted garlic and tahini dressing, adjusting salt and pepper as needed. Top with the roasted chickpeas and serve immediately. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I make this kale salad ahead of time?
You can totally make the Creamy Garlic and Tahini Dressing ahead of time. It should last for up to a week in the refrigerator.
I don't recommend making the chickpeas ahead of time, however, unless you have access to silica packets. The chickpeas have a tendency to become a little stale over time and are best the day they are made.
If you happen to have leftovers of the salad, it should keep for a few days in the refrigerator, but the chickpeas will not keep their crisp if they are packed with the leftovers. The salad also makes for an excellent stir fry the next day, especially when cooked in a bit of sesame oil to highlight the tahini flavor.
My family doesn't love spicy foods... what other flavors would work on the chickpeas?
If you're not into spicy flavors, no worries! Chickpeas are a great vehicle for just about any flavor profile you'd like to create. A simple salt and pepper mix should work just fine, but you can also get creative.
Add taco seasoning, garlic powder, or curry powder. You can also make your tandoori spice mix without cayenne and substituting regular paprika for the hot paprika.
What's the deal with "massaging" kale? How do I do it correctly?
If you're familiar with kale, you know that it can be kind of tough when it's raw. To make a delectable kale salad, you should massage the kale with olive oil and lemon juice before dressing it. This will help to soften the tough leaves and make them more receptive to being dressed.
Check out Minimalist Baker's post (with a video) to see how it's done!
What's the best way to serve this kale salad?
If I'm being completely honest, I would be perfectly happy to mow down an enormous bowl of this vegan salad all on its own. That said, it also pairs very nicely with a number of different flavors. I can definitely see myself adding some creamy avocado to this in the future.
As a side dish, this winter salad will play nicely with just about any meat. My Thanksgiving menu this year consists of this salad, Harissa Maple Sweet Potatoes, Tandoori Roasted Turkey Breast and a Cranberry Mint Relish. It would pair equally well with steak, fish, chicken or pork.
Want more veggie inspiration? Check out these other recipes:
- Harissa Maple Sweet Potato Tian
- Spicy Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
- Roasted Delicata Squash Salad with Creamy Maple Vinaigrette
- Cauliflower Tikka Masala
- Harissa Roasted Carrot Salad
If you tried this yummy recipe for kale salad, please rate and review it below. I'd love to know how it turned out for you!
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Kale Salad with Roasted Garlic Tahini Dressing and Crispy Chickpeas
Roasted Garlic Tahini Dressing
- 12 oz Kale stems removed, chopped roughly
- 1 Lemon juiced
- 1-2 tablespoon Olive Oil
- Toss drained chickpeas with olive oil and tandoori spice mix. Spread on a Silpat or parchment lined sheet pan for easy clean up. Roast at 375F for 30-45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Chickpeas should be crunchy when they are done.
- Roast head or garlic with a teaspoon of olive oil. To roast, cut off the top of the garlic to expose all cloves. Drizzle with olive oil, then wrap in foil. Roast for 45 minutes in same oven as chickpeas. Cloves will be soft to the touch and golden brown when done.
- Remove all roasted garlic cloves from skins. Add remaining salad dressing ingredients together in a glass, then blend with an immersion blender. Add hot water as necessary to thin the dressing to your liking. Season with salt and pepper.
- In a large mixing bowl, add kale and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Massage for 5-6 minutes to soften the kale. Toss with salad dressing and top with crispy chickpeas. Enjoy!
- You will have a lot of leftover Tandoori Spice Mix - keep it in an airtight container for up to 6 months and use to season chicken, fish, tofu or veggies!
- This recipe will serve 2-3 as an entrée and 6-8 as a side dish.