Warning! This craveable Buffalo Tempeh Salad with Vegan Ranch Dressing is so good that you’ll find yourself wanting more! You may want to make a double batch. This easy salad is perfect for lunch or a casual dinner, and it also makes a great side dish. It’s vegan and gluten-free.
When I set about creating this recipe, my original idea was to make a salad with my Buffalo Cauliflower Bites. I then decided to use tempeh, rather than cauliflower, because I want to have something hearty and “meaty” to contrast with the lightness of veggies. I sat down and wrote the recipe so that it was very similar to my cauliflower dish—battering the tempeh and baking it in the oven. But then I went to the kitchen to make it, and realized that there was no way in heck that I was going to turn on the oven on, as it was about 95 degrees fahrenheit outside. Even with the air conditioner going, turning the oven on seemed like absolute torture. On the fly I decided to marinade the tempeh and pan-fry it instead. I made the right choice.
Okay, I know that buffalo sauce is traditionally made with Frank’s RedHot Sauce and butter, and I know that I’ve deviated from that here. Cholula is my hot sauce of choice, and I buy it in bulk, because I go through it so quickly. Rather than use vegan butter or a ton of oil, I’ve used vegetable stock in my sauce. Aquafaba (the water from a can of chickpeas) can be used, too.
If you’re sensitive to tempeh’s fermented taste, you can steam the cubes for about 10 minutes before marinating it. It can also be simmered in vegetable stock for about half an hour. Steaming or simmering will help get rid of the fermented flavor, and it will also help the tempeh soak up more of the marinade.
It’s best to allow the tempeh to marinate in the buffalo sauce for few hours, or even overnight. There have been days when I’ve been pressed for time, and I just let it marinate for half an hour or so. In those cases, I pour the remaining marinade over the tempeh as it’s cooking.
Nondairy ranch dressing is a cool and refreshing complement to the fiery spice of the marinated tempeh. It’s easy to make—you just whip all of the ingredients together in a blender. I like to keep a jar of it on hand in the fridge for salads and snacks. It freezes well, so you can make a big batch in advance and store it in small portions until you’re ready for it.
- First, you marinate the tempeh.
- Then, you cook the tempeh until it browns.
- While the tempeh is cooking, you can chop the salad ingredients and mix the dressing.
- Just toss everything together and serve!
Buffalo Tempeh Salad with Cashew Ranch Dressing
For the Buffalo Tempeh
- 1/4 cup vegetable stock
- 1/4 cup hot sauce such as Frank’s or Cholula
- 8-ounce package of tempeh cut into bite-sized cubes
For the Cashew Ranch Dressing
- 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked for at least 2 hours, drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup non-dairy milk more if needed
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh chives or dill
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh parsley
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
For the Salad
- 1 large head romaine lettuce chopped
- 1 carrot grated or shredded
- 1 cup red cabbage julienned or shredded
- 1 celery stalk chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh chives chopped
- Place the tempeh pieces in a single layer on a large plate or in a shallow baking dish. Whisk the stock and hot sauce together and pour the mixture over the tempeh. Gently toss to coat. Let it marinate for two hours or overnight.
- Heat a large skillet or pan over high heat and place the tempeh in the pan, reserving the remaining marinade.
- Cook the tempeh pieces, flipping often, until they are golden brown. If the tempeh sticks, use the reserved marinade to deglaze the pan.
- While the tempeh is cooking, mix together the dressing ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor. If it’s too thick, add a little more non-dairy milk, on teaspoon at a time.
- In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, carrots, cabbage, and celery. Top with the tempeh and dressing, and garnish with the chopped chives. Divide among two bowls.
Other Salads You Might Enjoy Include:
- Peanutty Thai Quinoa Salad
- Easy Spinach Salad
- Vegan BLT Salad
- Kale Caesar Salad with Roasted Chickpeas