This easy Thai quinoa salad combines protein-rich grains with healthy nutrients from fresh veggies, for a lime-infused flavor bomb with crunch in each bite.
This easy Thai quinoa salad combines protein-rich grains with healthy nutrients from fresh veggies, for a lime-infused flavor bomb with crunch in each bite. It’s great as a side for potlucks and as a main when you add chopped chicken. It’s also an easy and complete weekday lunch too.
I remember being at a Weight Watchers meeting where a woman emphatically stated that she did. NOT. like. quinoa. There was no changing her mind. But in my head I couldn’t figure out why she was putting up the quinoa roadblock.
Quinoa is one of my favorite protein sources, probably because it’s so unassuming. Like a seventh grade girl, it takes on the flavors it’s paired with.
For this quinoa salad, that means the salty flavors of a limey Thai dressing with plenty of veggie crunch. It’s the perfect side dish or main meal if you’re feeling the hug of your waistline just a little too much.
Quinoa is a bona fide super food. It’s gluten-free, packed with protein, fiber and flavonoids with studies showing it as an anti-inflammatory. It’s also loaded with antioxidants to keep those free radicals at bay.
What’s in This Thai Quinoa Salad?
At the heart of this power salad are the grains of quinoa that cling to a bevy of fresh veggies and are the start of this healthy bowl. Edamame is included along with peanuts for added protein. Red bell peppers add even more antioxidants and vitamin C with cucumbers and shredded purple cabbage coming in with the crunch.
- red bell pepper
- green onion
- red cabbage
What’s In This Quinoa Salad Dressing
The dressing is simple, tart and sweet and very similar to the one I serve with spring rolls. It’s made with a blend of fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Add more red chili flakes to boost your metabolism, or less if you’re feeding the kids.
- fish sauce
- soy sauce
- vegetable oil
- sesame oil
- red pepper flakes
If you can find Thai basil, it makes a great addition. If not, regular basil will do.
How to Make Thai Quinoa Salad
To make this easy Thai salad, first prep the quinoa according to package instructions. While that cooks, prep the veggies and add them to a large bowl. Once cooked, add the quinoa to the bowl as well.
Whisk together the tangy vinaigrette and toss with the veggies and quinoa to combine. Garnish with fresh basil, cilantro, and peanuts and dive in.
Chopping and shredding the veggies will be the only thing that takes any time in putting this salad together. To get extra thin shreds of carrot, I use the shredder in this set of three peelers.
You can enjoy this Thai quinoa salad right away, or refrigerate it for up to a day before serving it.
Is There a Fish Sauce Substitute I Can Use?
If possible, get your hands on a high quality fish sauce like this one for a more authentic flavor. But if you’re really against using it or don’t have any on hand, you can likely get away with using Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce in a pinch. (Note that I’ve only ever made this recipe using fish sauce, so this is just my best guess).
Can I Prep This Salad in Advance?
If you’d like to prep this Thai salad for your lunches this week, I recommend storing the dressing separately and tossing it with your salad just before you’re ready to eat it. Once the dressing gets tossed with the veggies, the salad will stay good for only a day or two. However, because the ingredients are all sturdy, I’ve meal prepped it, refrigerated it, and eaten it throughout the whole week.
Tips for Making Thai Quinoa Salad
Make sure to rinse your quinoa before cooking it. Quinoa is coated in a substance called saponin, and if you don’t rinse it off your salad will wind up tasting quite bitter.
Feel free to add extra veggies to this salad or omit any you don’t have on hand. This is a flexible recipe, so tweak it as needed.
Also, I used a peeler to make pretty strands of the carrot. If you don’t have one, a regular box grater will do.
More Healthy Salad Recipes With Tons of Flavor
- Ahi Tuna Poke and Mango Salad
- Strawberry Arugula Salad with Watermelon and Feta
- Mediterranean Tomato Salad
- The Best Fattoush Salad
- Greek Salad with Chicken
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Bookmark this recipe and leave a comment below, or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Thai Quinoa Salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 red bell pepper , chopped
- 1 carrot , peeled and shredded
- 1 cucumber , chopped
- 1 cup frozen edamame , thawed
- 6 green onions , chopped
- 1-2 cups shredded red cabbage
- ½ cup chopped peanuts
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup chopped basil
- 4 teaspoons fish sauce
- 3 limes , juiced
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- Rinse the quinoa under cold water and cook in a medium saucepan according to package directions. Remove from pan and let cool.
- Add the quinoa and vegetables to a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the fish sauce, limes, sugar, vegetable oil, sesame oil, ginger, and red pepper flakes until the sugar has dissolved. Taste for sweetness and for heat, and add more seasoning to taste. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and vegetables and stir to combine.
- Sprinkle the cilantro, basil and peanuts over the salad and stir lightly. Serve or refrigerate for up to one day.
- I used a vegetable peeler/shredder like these to make pretty strands of the carrot. If you don't have one, a regular box grater will do.
More Easy Thai Recipes You’ll Love
- Thai Coconut Chicken and Rice
- Shrimp in Thai Coconut Sauce
- Thai Zucchini Noodle and Quinoa Salad
- Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Soup
- Thai Curried Salmon
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