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Soba Noodle and Kale Bowl with Crispy Tempeh and Tahini Sauce {vegan}

They’re called “bowls.” We’re talking noodles and grains, vitamin-green veggies, a little bit of protein, and a flavorful sauce–served in bowls. This soba noodle and kale bowl with crispy tempeh and lemon tahini sauce is your simple guide for throw-together nourishing meals–in bowls.

Soba Noodle and Kale Bowl with Crispy Tempeh and Tahini Sauce

You have to know that I am the girl who travels with her own sustenance and avoids airport food like the plague. Except two weeks ago I was caught in an airport, hungry, with nothing to eat, nada, not even a protein bar for backup.

Ah, but I forgot–I was in the land of healthy and fit, Southern California. What a pleasure to round the corner from TSA and spot a big green sign that said Organic Plant Based Cuisine! I was the one drooling while reading the eclectic vegan menu of smoothies and bowls.

At LAX Real Food Daily, travelers can pick from a tempting list of provisions, options for their bowl. I ordered mine with soba noodles, steamed kale, grilled tofu, and ‘sea vegetables.’ With a side of blackened tempeh, just to see and taste. Happily ensconced at a tall counter in the food court, I savored every forkful.

Soba Noodle and Kale Bowl with Crispy Tempeh and Tahini Sauce

Generous with curly green kale and a swirl of delicate earthy soba noodles, along with cubes of golden sautéed tamari-infused tempeh, this recipe takes its cue from that delicious lifesaving LA airport bowl. I added leftover red quinoa, a sprinkle of toasted sunflower seed salt, and a quick sauce of lemon juice and tahini.

Bowls are a great way to use up what’s on hand. If you have leftover rice, make that your base. Add beans; say chickpeas, pintos or lentils. Or browned roasted chunks of sweet potato. Kale is great, but there is also chard, or spinach. You get the idea.

Soba Noodle and Kale Bowl with Crispy Tempeh and Tahini Sauce

This lemon tahini sauce  a basic versatile dressing, changeable with flavors like garlic or hot sauce or tamari. A creamy avocado sauce is another idea. Oh the possibilities…

Beautiful high quality wooden bowls like these make great vessels for meals in a bowl.

Bloggers are full of bowls–check out these other bowl recipes:

What are your favorite bowl combinations? If you make this bowl or one inspired by this recipe, I’d love it if you tag it #lettycooksveggies on Instagram.

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The wooden bowls and the soba noodles are Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase products via those links, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps defray the costs of Letty’s Kitchen blog. Thank you for supporting Letty’s Kitchen.

Soba Noodle and Kale Bowl with Crispy Tempeh and Tahini Sauce
Print Recipe
5 from 1 vote

Soba Noodle and Kale Bowl with Crispy Tempeh and Tahini Sauce

Bowls are great any time, any way, for one person or four (or more!) Everything, even the kale, can be made a day or two ahead, and the bowls assembled cold. With all ingredients refrigerated and ready, bowls make quick, satisfying and healthful lunches. It's all good.


  • Lemon Tahini Sauce:
  • ½ cup tahini
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds , lightly toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon Real Salt
  • 8 ounces tempeh , frozen or refrigerated (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • 1 bunch kale , stems removed and discarded, leaves cut in pieces the size of a credit card
  • 4 to 6 ounces soba noodles
  • 1 cup cooked red quinoa , optional


  • Make the Lemon Tahini Sauce:
  • Whisk tahini with the hot water until smooth. Whisk in lemon juice, garlic, salt and cayenne. Taste, and add more seasoning if needed.
  • Make the sunflower seed salt: Grind the toasted sunflower seeds and salt in a blender about 10 seconds. Set aside.
  • To plump the tempeh: Place in a saucepan with enough water to cover the block of tempeh by 1/2-inch or so. Season the water with the tamari soy sauce. Bring to a boil and cook about 10 minutes, turning the tempeh after 5 minutes. When the tempeh has plumped, transfer to a cutting board.
  • For the kale: Insert a steamer basket into the saucepan with the tamari water. Add the kale, poking it down. Cover the pot and steam until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from the steamer and divide into 4 bowls.
  • Cut the tempeh into 3/4-inch cubes. In a non-stick skillet, on medium high flame, heat the oil. Add the tempeh and sauté 5 to 10 minutes, until the tempeh is golden brown on most sides. Divide into the bowls.
  • For the soba noodles: Bring a second saucepan of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles following the package instructions. Drain and rinse under running water so the noodles don’t all stick together. Divide between the bowls, or, if you wish to serve the noodles warm, run hot water over them just before adding to the bowls.
  • Add quinoa, if using. Sprinkle everything with sunflower seed salt, as desired. Serve bowls warm, at room temperature, or cold, with plenty of lemon tahini sauce.


  • Find original soy tempeh or five-grain tempeh at natural food grocery stores.
  • A package of frozen tempeh thaws easy in the simmering tamari water.
  • Choose any kale varietal—I used curly green because it was on sale!
  • A fairly experienced cook can juggle the tempeh, kale, and noodles between 2 saucepans and a skillet, and have them all ready at close to the same time.
Tried this recipe?Mention @lettyskitchen or tag #lettyskitchen!


  • Alix Railton

    Yumm!!!! Reply · 11 April, 2015

  • Now that I have the recipe I just had that gorgeous bowl to serve it in. GREG Reply · 11 April, 2015

  • This sounds like a total winner! (And thanks for the mention.) Reply · 11 April, 2015

  • […] Fresh ginger, and maybe a titch of rice wine, follows the Asian theme, and builds a great sauce for buckwheat soba noodles and tempeh. […] Reply · 22 October, 2017

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