homemade gluten-free feta cheese tossed into vegan kale salad with chickpeas tomatoes in big bowl wooden salad servers gray fabric napkin on marble

Vegan Tofu Kale Salad is a plant-based protein-packed lunch or dinner with easy homemade gluten-free feta cheese, chickpeas, crisp onion, and fresh tomatoes.  And when you serve it with rice or quinoa, this salad eats like a hearty meal!

The dressing begins with the marinade brine from the homemade tofu feta. You stir in just a couple more ingredients to compliment the brine and bam, a brand new, fresh-tasting, plant-based, and oil-free dressing is all yours!

As I work through the backstory notes about this recipe, I laugh inside and smile to myself because: 

Is there anything as outright vegan as kale salad, tofu, or chickpeas?  

Pair all of those lovely vegan staples with crisp onions and fresh tomatoes, and what have you got? 

I’ll tell you what you’ve got.

In this lovely meal you have a powerhouse of plant protein and other beneficial nutrients that taste incredible together! If this recipe were to have a rock and roll reference, I’d describe it as a brick house. Want to get excited about this recipe? Be sure to check out the nutritional info below the recipe.

This no-cook dish is a plant-based vegan parade of pure and wholesome, naturally gluten-free, oil-free, and refined sugar-free ingredients!

Now, that’s what I call one done-right healthy meal – and it’s so easy!

Vegan Tofu Kale Salad Speaks Your Nutritional Language!

It’s true that nothing says, “Kale, yes, I’m vegan,” quite like a kale salad with tofu and chickpeas, and you don’t have to be vegan to know it. But while folks may joke about how much kale, tofu and chickpeas you eat, the nutrients in this dish are nothing but impressive.

Do you know how they say, “Respect is earned, not demanded?”

My relationship with kale is like that to me.

Before going vegan, even though kale has been on plates since Roman times, I knew nothing about the stuff.  

Like many, I’d grown up thinking of spinach as the only dark green veggie worth noticing. I’m not sure why I felt that, and maybe it’s just because spinach was something I avoided at all costs as a kid.

Even up to just a few years ago, when I first started trying to get more plants into my diet, I thought kale to look way to green to taste good.  I was comfortable with familiar raw ingredients like crisp onion and fresh tomatoes, but the green stuff scared me.

Seriously, those were my thoughts; and now I’m a plant-based vegan recipe creator!  

And to think that some folks refuse to believe that people can change – ha!

As someone who knows a thing or two about the nutritional benefits of this dark leafy green, my respect for kale is now unwavering.

I would eat kale multiple times a day if I grew it myself, which I hope to do one day soon.  If you happen to have any tips about growing kale in The Sunshine State, I’m listening.  

And even while I’m still using store-bought kale by the bunch, or on occasion, pre-chopped in a handy bag, my beloved kale is something I deliberately try to work into the menu often! 

That’s how much my feelings for kale have shifted. Kale use to feel challenging to me, and now it’s my beloved.

For years now, one of my favorite things to bring and share at potlucks and picnics is this Kale, Pecan & Cranberry Pasta Salad. It’s one bowl on the buffet that always returns home empty. Meat eaters and vegans alike, dig this inviting kale dish!

Nutrients in Kale

Now, how about we dive into the beneficial nutrients we gain from chowing down on this handsome leafy fellow?

Kale is packed with Vitamins such as A, C, K, and folate, a B Vitamin that is vital to brain development.

It has 2.5 grams of fiber per serving that helps regulate blood sugar.

Protein is also in those leaves coming in at almost 3 grams per serving!

Kale even has omega-3’s – true, not as much of the healthy fat as some sources, but yet, it’s a plant, and it provides omegas! 

Is the idea of healthy fat coming from greens, wild, or is that just my take?

And to help protect us against cataracts and macular degeneration, kale provides us with the minerals phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and zinc.

Check out this article by WebMD to read more about the nutritional benefits of kale. The report also provides a few words about the various types of kale – there’s quite a few!

chickpeas crisp onion fresh tomatoes mixed in fresh green vegan kale salad with metal fork reaching for a bite on marble surface with another large bowl of salad for serving

Why We Prefer THESE Organic Chickpeas in this Vegan Tofu Kale Salad

It may pay to be picky when choosing chickpeas – they’re not all the same.  

Usually, I’m focusing on the difference between organic chickpeas versus regular.  

However, this time, I’m going to share experiences with you to suggest that, in some cases, the brand of canned chickpeas also matters.

But first, if you’d like to kick the can and cook your chickpeas from scratch, look no further. I suggest using this recipe – simply trade dry chickpeas for the black beans. The difference the bit of sweet potato and other veggies make with any bean or lentil from scratch is fantastic! 

And now, back to the search for the best organic canned chickpeas.  

Allow me to say that you could never have convinced me of this if I hadn’t found out for myself, but I prefer some of the cheapest chickpeas around. I know how that makes me sound, but don’t judge me until you’ve heard my why.

I’ve tried fancy label brands of chickpeas and an entire slew of store brands, all organic. By far, I enjoy Whole Foods 365 organic canned chickpeas far more than any other.

Why do I like this humble store brand over the rest? It’s easy; they’re tasty, as in, they have flavor. And these chickpeas are so tender they’re practically creamy!

I’m not sure why all canned chickpeas aren’t tender – you’d think that would be a requirement.

But man, all I can say is that if you’ve met one canned chickpea, never assume you’ve met them all.

When it Comes to Chickpeas, Try a Little Tenderness!

This sensitive subject of less than tender chickpeas came to light during a conversation with my sister. She was telling me about some of my recipes she had tried and repeated. Inside scoop: I was thrilled that she’d found some of our recipes doable since she doesn’t exactly enjoy cooking.

She mentioned our 1-Bowl Super Simple Chickpea Salad not turning out the same each time she made it. I was genuinely confused and here’s why:

1-Bowl Super Simple Chickpea Salad is a no-cook dish. It’s incredibly quick and easy to make. It’s a no-cook recipe since it uses canned chickpeas, a few fresh vegetables, and ideally, our Oil-Free Cashew Mayonnaise or our Sunflower Seed Mayo.

Now, back to my confusion over how such a simple recipe could vary so much from batch to batch. 

Eventually, she and I arrived at the idea that it must be about the chickpeas she’d used. Perhaps they were old chickpeas, past their prime, so to speak, not to be an agist – LOL!

Until that conversation, I had purchased organic canned chickpeas from all sorts of places, not paying much attention to their tenderness. I use chickpeas constantly in my plant protein lunch or dinner dishes and I’m always looking for a deal, If I ever happened upon a hard chickpea or two, I mashed them with a little more elbow or chopped them in the food processor and though no more of it.

But once I knew of my dear sister’s recipe altering can full of hard chickpeas, I knew I must do something to remedy that situation! From then on, I pay close attention to chickpea texture.

All I can say is that a chickpea’s texture should stand on its own, completely separate from the crisp onion and fresh tomatoes in this Vegan Tofu Kale Salad, without being hard.      

So don’t let any buy one get one sale deter you from choosing the chickpea of your liking and ending up with uncooperative hard-nosed chickpeas.

And now you know that all canned chickpeas are not created equal.

Chickpea texture matters, and it varies from brand to brand. Those subtle differences have the uncanny ability to alter unsuspecting, blameless, recipes. 

So when you find an organic canned chickpea that suits you, texture and taste-wise, stick with it. Because, nope, they’re not all equal, not even close!

How to Make Easy Homemade Gluten-Free Feta Cheese

It’s always a thrill to share a dish like this Vegan Tofu Kale Salad with Chickpeas, which features a go-to recipe I love: my straightforward, dairy-free, and gluten-free, Vegan Tofu Feta Cheese.  There will be a link to the vegan feta in the recipe, below.

By the way, if you’re ever searching for easy ways to add plant protein to your lunch or dinner, tossing a handful of this vegan feta is a quick solution!

If you follow a gluten-free diet while living a plant-based vegan lifestyle, you already understand why I mention this feta recipe as being gluten-free.  

For the rest of you, I make a point of mentioning that this tofu feta recipe is gluten-free because so many packaged dairy-free vegan kinds of cheese contain gluten.  

Gluten is seemingly everywhere, folks.

As I have mentioned in other recipe articles, it’s one reason why I steer clear and eat plant-based. It’s why I avoid packaged foods when possible. It’s added as a filler, binder, thickener, and can be found in so many odd places, like ketchup or even beauty items such as lotion and shampoo!

But there’s no need to fear, your homemade gluten-free recipe is here!

When you read the feta portion of this no-cook kale salad recipe, you’ll see that making homemade gluten-free feta cheese is as easy as one, two, three – literally!

  • First, you chop the tofu.
  • Next, you stir to make the brine.
  • Then, you combine the tofu and brine – that’s it!

Like many of you, I had no idea making tofu feta is so easy until my first batch was magically jumping into my mouth within minute of stirring the brine.

I will never spend my time reading another tiny packaged vegan feta cheese label again. This vegan feta recipe is a cheesy goldmine!

More Plant-Based Protein-Rich Lunch or Dinner Ideas

If I share my biggest concern when I first went vegan, do you promise not to laugh?

My biggest worry was that I wouldn’t be able to make plant-based protein-rich lunch or dinners that please my family.

I realize that may sound terribly dorky and dated to some, but you’ve got to understand, I’ve always enjoyed cooking. Sharing food with friends and family is as much a part of who I am as anything. I’m the weirdo who throws the block parties and likes doing it. And I must admit, I also enjoy hearing that my food tastes good.

There, I said it.

I wasn’t worried about myself so much because I knew I could grow to love most vegetables, but them? Not so much. The most my family use to be okay with eating without questioning were vegetables such as cucumbers, a few crisp onions here and there, and fresh tomatoes.

So that’s why I like to gather lists of helpful recipes that meet specific needs. My goal is for you to feel equipped to cook delicious vegan food that folks will love eating and you’ll enjoy making and sharing.

These dishes all have ingredients similar in some way to this recipe for Vegan Tofu Kale Salad. For instance, some of the plant protein lunch or dinner recipes here use kale or our homemade gluten-free feta cheese I’ve been raving about!

Plant Protein Rich Soups, Sandwiches, and Such:

Plant Protein Hearty Salads, Bowls, and Snacks:

Thank You for Choosing to Read this Recipe!

Mike and I want to seize this opportunity to convey a word of appreciation for taking the time to explore the thinking behind our recipes.

This Vegan Tofu Kale Salad is another delicious way of doing what we can to assist our pursuit of wellness while also helping you with yours. 

From the bottom of the rice filled bowl to the adorning touch of crisp red onion and fresh tomatoes, this plant protein rich lunch or dinner is one dish that we’re especially excited to share.

Happy Eating!

clear glass bowl with generous serving of kale salad with chickpeas and tofu for a healthy plant protein lunch or dinner with pretty solid color serving bowl behind
vegan tofu kale salad with vegan feta for a plant protein lunch or dinner in a large round blueish green serving bowl wood fork and spoon sticking out

Vegan Tofu Kale Salad with Chickpeas (Gluten-Free)

  • 30
    Prep:
  • 0
    Cook Time:
  • Yield: 6 Servings

You’ll appreciate the tantalizing layers of flavor in the simple brine dressing that makes this Vegan Tofu Kale Salad sing – and it only requires a couple of ingredients you probably have in your pantry. And you’re going to love how this salad tastes downright cheesy  thanks mostly to the chunky little nuggets of your very own, plant-based vegan and gluten-free, no-cook tofu feta!

Ingredients

  • about one cup per serving of prepared rice or quinoa according to package instructions for serving, or use leftover rice or quinoa
  • one batch of homemade Vegan Tofu Feta Cheese  including  its deliciously easy brine
  • 12 oz bag of ready to use raw kale or one or two bunches of kale removed from stems and torn into pieces 
  • 2 to 3 tbsp of Braggs Liquid Aminos, tamari sauce, or coconut aminos - Soy sauce works if you aren't concerned about avoiding gluten.
  • 6 tbsp of nutritional yeast - This brand tastes terrific - and it's the best price in this more substantial quantity.
  • 1-15 oz can of chickpeas, drained - We enjoy using this organic economic variety by Whole Foods.
  • 1-pint of cherry or grape tomatoes washed and drained, more or less to preference is fine
  • 1/4 cup or so of red onion, or another onion, chopped
  • optional slice of lemon for garnish or a few pitted black olives  - This brand is our favorite - their olives are always so delicious!

Instructions

  1. First, prepare whichever rice or quinoa you're using according to package instructions or use leftovers if you have them. Make enough rice or quinoa to satisfy your particular crowd or appetite.  ON average, one cup of cooked brown rice or quinoa per person is plenty for this recipe.
  2. Now, if you haven't already made a batch ahead, make your homemade tofu feta cheese.
  3. Next, while the feta marinates, in a large mixing bowl, add the prepared raw kale and liquid aminos, tamari or soy sauce, and set aside. About the aminos, we usually start out with two tablespoons and add a little more if it seems to need it once everything is combined. Chop the onion and set it aside for a moment, too and drain the can of chickpeas.
  4. Then, pour the brine or marinade from the tofu feta over the bowl of kale with tamari. Massage the kale using your clean hands. Massaging the kale softens the leaves and makes them more enjoyable to eat. Your kale is relaxed and ready to go once you notice that it seems to have shrunk in quantity.
  5. Next, sprinkle the nutritional yeast into the massaged kale and toss using your hands or tongs. Then add the drained chickpeas, tomatoes, and onion to the kale mixture. 
  6. And last but not least, gently incorporate your deliciously cheesy tofu feta.  Taste for seasoning and add that extra bit of aminos or a sprinkle of salt, to preference.
  7. Serve your lovely salad on its own or paired with the prepared rice or quinoa of your choosing to make it a meal since there's plenty of dressing to cover a bit of grain nicely. For a fresh and inviting garnish,  top with a slice of lemon or an optional olive or two.   When sharing this dish with a crowd, go ahead and toss the rice or quinoa into the salad  for a filling dish and effortless plating.

Notes

  • If your family is anything like ours, onion preference varies.  To bridge those differences, I often serve a few slivers of onion on the side in addition to the small amount of onion included in the ingredients list.
  • When we can find it, we prefer to use this brand of unfortified nutritional yeast.  Unfortunately,  this brand was not available when we published this recipe so we're including it here in the notes rather than the ingredients list.  When it is available again, it's a better deal (three times the amount of the smaller bag) when bought in this larger (24 oz) quantity.
  • The nutrients provided in this wonderful meal in a bowl is off the charts as you can see in the chart below.  The suggested rice or quinoa is not tallied in this data.  One cup of brown rice or quinoa is typically around 200 calories and of course, either choice will add its own nutritional benefits as well.

Nutrition

% DV

Calories Per Serving: 191
  • Total Fat 4.6 g 7 %
  • Saturated Fat 0.5 g 2 %
  • Cholesterol 0 mg 0 %
  • Sodium 648.9 mg 27 %
  • Carbohydrates 22.1 g 7 %
  • Fiber 7.7 g 31 %
  • Sugar 4.4 g ---
  • Protein 15.1 g 30 %
  • Vitamin A 62 %
  • Vitamin C 119 %
  • Iron 18 %
  • Calcium 28 %

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