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Soba Noodles, Kale, Tempeh and quinoa in a wooden bowl with Tahini Sauce on the side
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4.34 from 3 votes

Tempeh and Kale Soba Noodle Bowl with Lemon 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.
Prep Time45 mins
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Keyword: kale, soba noodles, tahini sauce, tempeh
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 517kcal


Lemon Tahini Sauce:

  • ½ cup sesame tahini
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Pinch cayenne pepper

Remaining Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces tempeh , frozen or refrigerated (see note)
  • 1 bunch kale can be any varietal, lacinato or curly
  • 4 ounces soba noodles up to 6 ounces
  • 1 cup cooked red or tricolor 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. Set aside. (See note.)

Prepare the tempeh:

  • First steam the tempeh: Insert a steamer basket into a saucepan with just enough water to cover the legs of the steamer basket. Bring to a simmer and cook until the tempeh has plumped, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, keeping the steamer basket and water to steam the kale. (see note re: using frozen tempeh.)
  • 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. Set aside.

Prepare the kale:

  • Remove and discard the kale stems. Cut in 2-inch pieces.
  • Add the kale to the steamer basket, poking it down. Cover the pot and steam until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Prepare 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. If you wish to serve the noodles warm, run hot water over them just before adding to the bowls.

To assemble the bowls:

  • Divide the noodles, tempeh, and kale among 4 bowls. If using quinoa, add that too.
  • Drizzle lemon tahini sauce over it all!


  • Find original soy tempeh or five-grain tempeh at natural food grocery stores.
  • I keep my tempeh in the freezer. I thaw and plump frozen tempeh in 10 minutes: Remove the packaging and put in a saucepan with enough water to barely cover the tempeh. Add a tablespoon of tamari soy sauce if you wish and simmer until the tempeh has thawed and obviously plumped. 
  • Choose any kale varietal—I used curly green because it was on sale!
  • Tahini sauce thickens as it stands. Whisk in more water until it's as thin or thick as you like.
  • Serve your bowls warm, at room temperature, or cold.
  • A fairly experienced cook will be able to juggle the tempeh, kale, and noodles between 2 saucepans and a skillet, and have them all ready at close to the same time.


Calories: 517kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 32g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 849mg | Potassium: 894mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 6763IU | Vitamin C: 87mg | Calcium: 229mg | Iron: 5mg