Despite feeling run down after our seemingly never-ending deck renovation earlier this month, I have to admit there’s been some seriously good food coming out of my kitchen lately! Creamy pumpkin pasta, baked apple cider donuts, vanilla spice scones, and now this spicy vegan Thai salad with tempeh and the most insanely delicious peanut sauce dressing. I’m not the least bit ashamed to tell you that I ate this meal three times in a row last week and I still want more.
Before anyone tells me “But that’s not an authentic Thai salad because blah blah blah you’re doing it wrong”—let’s 1) take a chill pill and 2) love this salad for what it is: a really awesome vehicle for eating all of the peanut sauce. Kidding! (not really)
Peanut sauce aside for a quick second, this spicy “Thai-inspired” salad has so many good things going on, not the least of which is the protein-packed, sweet orange crumbled tempeh that’s sautéed in toasted sesame seed oil. I’m not a big fan of tempeh most of the time, but I really like it prepared this way because it takes on a deliciously sticky glaze as the orange juice cooks down, and then it gets perfectly browned and crispy. It’s not dry, mushy, or flavorless like so many other tempeh recipes.
So now that we have tempeh we actually want to eat and a killer peanut dressing to smother all over, we need the salad! I like to use a base that’s a satisfying combination of crunchy and colorful romaine, red cabbage, and carrots, plus quinoa and edamame for protein. The carrot rounds and pre-cooked edamame were sides that I added to our weekly Terra’s Kitchen meal kit delivery (I love the option to add prepared sides!), and from there I quickly sliced the other veggies, chopped some peanuts, and tossed everything together in one big mixing bowl.
You can serve your vegan Thai salad with the peanut dressing drizzled on top like you see in the photos, or simply add it to your mixing bowl and give it a good toss. Obviously, there’s no wrong answer when it comes to peanut sauce (and no judgement if you lick your blender clean after you make it).
- ⅓ cup creamy salted peanut butter
- ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons sriracha (or to taste)
- 2 medium cloves garlic
- 1 heaping tablespoon fresh, peeled ginger
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- one 8-ounce package organic tempeh, crumbled
- juice of 1 orange
- sea salt and pepper
- 1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
- 2 cups cooked quinoa, seasoned with sea salt & pepper
- 1 heaping cup shredded red cabbage
- 1 cup carrot rounds
- ½ cup cooked edamame
- ½ cup lightly salted roasted peanuts, chopped
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- sesame seeds, for garnish
- lime wedges and sriracha, for serving
- Make the peanut dressing: In a high speed blender, blend all of the ingredients until very smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
- Cook the tempeh: Heat a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the sesame oil followed by the crumbled tempeh and orange juice. Season with salt and pepper, then stir to coat with the oil. Cook, stirring every so often, until the tempeh is golden brown (about 7-8 minutes).
- Assemble the salad: In a large bowl, toss together the tempeh, romaine, quinoa, cabbage, carrots, edamame, chopped peanuts, and green onions. Divide between four bowls. Garnish with sesame seeds, drizzle with peanut dressing, and serve with lime wedges and sriracha.
Feel free to serve your salad with warm, just-cooked quinoa or pre-made cold quinoa. It's delicious either way!
Thank you to Terra’s Kitchen for sponsoring this post! We love their wholesome, 30 minute (or less!), plant-based meal kits, plus their option to add salads, smoothies, and pre-prepped fruit and vegetable sides to your order. You can read our full review of their meal-kit delivery service here, and enter PICKLES at checkout to take $35 off your first order!