Kale Miso Caesar Pasta Salad with Smoky Tempeh

This Miso Caesar Kale Pasta Salad with Smoky Tempeh is loaded up with kale, pasta,  tomatoes and smoky tempeh that all gets tossed in a creamy miso caesar. A truly satisfying salad thats also high in protein thanks to the smoky tempeh. The perfect vegan & gluten free pasta salad to add to any spring meal prep! 

Kale Miso Caesar Pasta Salad with Smoky Tempeh

I totally forgot how much I loved creamy pasta salads, it’s been way too long but I’m so excited to be bringing them back! This miso caesar dressing started off tossed in some plain old lettuce and even that tasted great. But obviously, it wasn’t filling so I made it much more exciting and satisfying by massaging it in some kale, adding in some pasta and tomatoes, and topping it with air fried smoky tempeh.

Kale Miso Caesar Pasta Salad with Smoky Tempeh ingredients

This Miso Caesar Kale Pasta Salad with Smoky Tempeh uses ingredients that will keep well in the fridge AKA perfect for meal prepping! There are quite a few ingredients that go into this recipe BUT it’s super easy to make each component of the salad and produced great flavours.

What are the components to this salad?

  1. The Smoky Tempeh: we’re air frying marinated tempeh that taste almost like bacon with the crispiness mimicking croutons. High protein bacon flavour croutons? Oh yes.
  2. Miso Caesar Dressing: Caesar dressing with an extra boost of flavour thanks to the umami and saltiness of miso paste!
  3. Pasta: Here I’m using Go Go Quinoa Super Grains pasta! This is by far one of my favourite brands of pasta because of the ingredients but I also love Banza and any pasta made with beans (for higher protein)!
  4. Kale: Kale the best when meal prepping a salad because it actually tastes better as it sits in the fridge. But of course, feel free to use spinach, spring mix or lettuce if you’re preparing this salad to eat fresh.
  5. Grape Tomatoes: I just always have grape tomatoes on hand and I love the freshness it gives to this salad to balance out all the other flavours.

The first thing you want to do when approaching this salad is marinating the tempeh. The longer the tempeh marinates, the more flavour it will absorb! Next is boiling some water for your pasta. The two things that take the most time, done. Once the tempeh is in the air fryer, make the dressing by blending up all the ingredients. Then all thats left to do is chopping up the kale and tomatoes, and tossing it all together! How easy is that?

vegan caesar dressing kale salad on white plate

If I still haven’t convinced you to pick up an air fryer, I hope I have now because air frying tempeh and tofu really cuts back on cooking time. It’s one of my kitchen appliances I would recommend to anyone! I’m thinking of making a full blog post on air frying 101 for both tempeh and tofu because IMO it produces the best texture for tempeh and tofu (among other things). And it’s awesome for the hotter months because it does not heat up your kitchen like ovens do.

A little secret… I actually own 3 different sized air friers because I love them that much. If you’re interested in an air fryer, this is the large one I use for big batches, the medium one I mostly use, like for this smoky tempeh recipe, and the small one for little snacks I like to make in the air fryer….like this air fried caramelized banana.

vegan caesar dressing kale salad on white plate close up

Alright, enough about air friers! I hope you give this Miso Caesar Kale Pasta Salad with Smoky Tempeh a try and love it as much as I do! It’s:

  • creamy
  • flavourful
  • fresh
  • smoky
  • loaded with nutritious ingredients
  • packed with plant based protein
  • easy to prepare
  • perfect for spring meal prepping
  • & SO damn tasty!!
vegan caesar dressing kale salad on white plate with lemon

Tips and Tricks to making Kale Miso Caesar Pasta Salad with Smoky Tempeh

  • When choosing your soft tofu, select ones that are in sealed packages as these ones last longer than ones in the tubs (the ones in asian grocery stores).
  • The mirin helps cut the bitter flavour that tempeh sometimes gives. Choose one does not contain corn syrup like this one or the one from Eden. If you can not find mirin, sake or brown rice vinegar may be substituted.
  • Store the tempeh on the side if meal prepping and add in when ready to eat.
vegan caesar dressing kale salad on white plate

If you recreate this Kale Miso Caesar Pasta Salad with Smoky Tempeh recipe let me know how you liked it by leaving a comment and rating below or by tagging me on Instagram @Okonomikitchen, I love seeing all of your tasty recreations!

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Kale Miso Caesar Pasta Salad with Smoky Tempeh

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Lisa Kitahara
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 34 Servings 1x


  • This Miso Caesar Kale Pasta Salad with Smoky Tempeh is loaded up with kale, pasta,  tomatoes and smoky tempeh that all gets tossed in a creamy miso caesar. 



Miso Caesar:

  • 1 block tofu (250g)
  • 3 tbsp cashew butter (45g)
  • 1 tbsp miso paste (20g)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1.5 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp vegan Worcester (or sub soy sauce)
  • 1.5 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Smoky Tempeh:

  • 1 package Tempeh (250g)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp mirin*
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper

For the salad:

  • 6 cups chopped kale (90g)
  • 1 package of pasta (227g)
  • 1 cup chopped cherry tomatos (180g)


  1. Smoky Tempeh: Add all marinade ingredients into a shallow container. Slice your tempeh into strips, then add them into the marinade. Close the lid and shake the container, then allow it to marinate for at least 15 minutes (ideally 30 minutes, but if your short on time 15 is enough to get flavour into the tempeh). Once the time has passed, place into your air fryer for 7 minutes. Flip the tempeh and air fry for another 7 minutes until brown and crispy.
  2. Pasta: Cook pasta following the directions on the package. While waiting for the water to boil, chop the kale and slice the tomatoes, and measure out their written amounts.
  3. Miso Caesar: add all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth.
  4. Assemble: Gather your ingredients. Into a large bowl, massage the miso caesar dressing into the kale. Add in the cooked and cooled pasta in and toss using tongs. Add in the chopped tomatoes and gently mix the salad. Serve and top with the smoky tempeh.


  • Sake can be used in place of mirin. Both mirin and sake cut the strange taste that tempeh sometimes gives.
  • For oven baked version, preheat oven to 350 F. Place the marinated tempeh onto a lined baking tray and allow it to bake on each side for 10-12 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned with crisp edges.
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Entree
  • Method: Air fryer
  • Cuisine: Salads


  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 537
  • Sugar: 15.6g
  • Sodium: 1614 mg
  • Fat: 14.5g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.25g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 4.6g
  • Trans Fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 14.5g
  • Fiber: 9g
  • Protein: 33.75g
  • Cholesterol: 0

About Lisa

I'm Lisa, a home cook, recipe developer and founder of Okonomi Kitchen. Here, you'll find a mix of classic and modernized Japanese recipes, and creative, plant-forward meal inspiration using seasonal ingredients. I hope to share more about Japanese cuisine and culture through food and recipes.

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  1. Easy and so delicious…. The only thing I didn’t have silken tofu so I used extra firm which made my sauce thicker… I love the tempeh marinated like this.
    Great option for lunch… and better the next day !

  2. This was so good! Finally, a tempeh recipe I like!

    I’ve been testing out different recipes online and was giving up on tempeh until now. The Caesar dressing is also really good and has a lot more flavor than I would have ever imaged. The only thing I did was add a little almond milk because mine was a bit thick.

    Thank you, and I will definitely be trying out more of your recipes!

  3. i’ve made this several times cause it’s so simple and easy to make!!
    high in protein, packed with greens plus the cashew based sauce and protein/gf pasta makes it so filling

    the only thing i’d change is the amount of pepper and garlic powder
    i wasn’t sure if that was a typo bc i’ve never seen a whole teaspoon, let alone a teaspoon and a half of pepper for a sauce/dressing recipe and it was definitely too pungent for me