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This easy vegan protein salad uses smoky flavored tempeh bacon and quinoa making it rich in plant-based protein. It’s a great lunch or a post-workout meal option!
What is tempeh?
Tempeh is a soy-based product made by fermenting soybeans and forming them into a firm dense cake. It has a strong nutty flavor and easily absorbs the flavors of sauces. It makes a great plant-based meat substitute and can be used in homemade vegan burgers, vegan meatballs, or crumbled and used in tacos like this Tempeh Vegan Taco Meat Recipe.
When making tempeh bacon, keep in mind the thinner you slice, the better the flavor and texture. Also, tempeh can be kind of bitter if you are not used to it so make sure you marinate it for at least 1 hour or better yet overnight.
I like to pan-frying my tempeh rather than baking it because it gives it a nice crisp outer edge (like actual bacon) and it’s quicker. However, you can bake it if you desire. Because tempeh is fermented it is an excellent source of probiotics. To learn more read Why Tempeh Is Incredibly Healthy and Nutritious.
How to Make this Vegan Protein Salad?
*Please read detailed and printable recipe card below for full ingredients and instructions.
Make Tempeh Bacon
- Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl. Pour marinade over thinly sliced tempeh and marinate for at least 1 hour. (Photos 1 & 2)
- Add marinated bacon to oiled hot cast iron pan and cook on each side until brown and crisp on each side. (Photos 3 & 4)
Cook Quinoa and Assemble Your Salad
- Begin to cook your quinoa until it’s done and allow it to cool. Start to assemble your kale by chopping it thin. (Photos 1 & 2)
- Add your other salad ingredients: spinach, tomato, quinoa, avocado, and tempeh bacon. Add your favorite dressing and serve immediately. (Photos 3 & 4)
Substitution, Cook, & Storage Tips
- This dish is versatile so it can be eaten with any dressing you desire. Not using a dressing is also a great option.
- You don’t have to use kale or spinach. Romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, swiss chard, etc…any raw leafy salad greens will do. You can even add herbs like cilantro and parsley!
- Instead of using tempeh experiment with different proteins like tofu. Even store-bought vegan bacon and lunch meats will work.
- To add even more protein try sprinkling some hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, or shredded almonds on top!
- The tempeh bacon itself lasts in the fridge for about 3-4 days. It does not freeze well
How Does This Recipe Help With Vegan Weight Gain?
The tempeh and quinoa are both high in plant-based protein and is the base of this salad. One cup of chopped tempeh has 33 grams of protein! One cup of cooked quinoa has 8 grams of protein.
The avocado adds some healthy fats making it a calorie-dense food. One medium avocado has 300 calories and 29 grams of healthy fat!
This salad is perfect to eat after a lower-body/glute workout instead of drinking a smoothie because it’s so high in protein.
How Does This Recipe Help With Vegan Weight Loss?
You can make this recipe apart of your vegan weight loss plan by:
- Omitting the avocado which makes the recipe less dense
- Serve it with low-fat dressing or no dressing at all
- Serving smaller portions and on top of a salad
More Salad Recipes You’ll Love
Other Vegan Protein Recipes to Try
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Tempeh Vegan Protein Salad
- 1 120 oz package of tempeh note 1
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided divided
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- ½ teaspoon sriracha sauce
- ½ cup dry quinoa (yellow or multi-color)
- 2 cups water or broth
- handful fresh kale, chopped note 2
- handful fresh spinach note 2
- ½ – 1 medium avocado
- 1 roma tomato, chopped
- salad dressing of your choice
- Slice the tempeh into 1/4 inch slices. The thinner you slice it the better the taste and texture. Slice it as thin as you can without it falling apart. Place tempeh in a baking dish.
- Next make the marinade by combining soy sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil, molasses, liquid smoke, and sriracha sauce in a medium bowl. Whisk well to combine.
- Pour marinade over tempeh making sure they are all coated well by tossing your tempeh. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or overnight.
- Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Begin adding tempeh slices in a single layer to the pan. Fry on each side for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown and crispy. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Continue frying until all the tempeh is cooked and set aside.
- Next in a medium pot bring water and broth to a rolling boil and add quinoa. Turn down heat and cook on medium low for about 10 to 15 minutes until quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid and fluffy. Drain and allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- While quinoa is cooking, begin prepping your salad ingredients. Rinse your produce and begin chopping your kale thin and chopping your roma tomato. Add to a salad bowl along with spinach and avocado. Add your tempeh bacon and quinoa with your choice of dressing. Serve immediately.
- Tempeh bacon will last in the fridge for about 3-4 days.
- TEMPEH: Instead of using tempeh experiment with different proteins like tofu. Even store-bought vegan bacon and lunch meats will work. Chickpeas and black beans would also work.
- SALAD: You don’t have to use kale or spinach. Romaine lettuce, red leaf lettuce, swiss chard, etc…any raw leafy salad greens will do. You can even add herbs like cilantro and parsley!
- ADDITIONS & SUBSTITUTIONS: You can bake your tempeh bacon instead of frying it. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the marinated tempeh on a pan and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for an additional 10 minutes more. Remove and serve.
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