April 23, 2018

Fresh Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Sauce

This salad is bursting with bright rainbow colors, delicious Thai flavors, plenty of fresh crunch, and some big time plant-based nutrition. I'm continually surprised at how pleasantly filling it is! I've made many versions of this salad both with a quinoa base and the more typical rice noodles, and enjoy it both ways so feel free to substitute the quinoa for your own favorite noodles/rice noodles as well! I usually find myself trending more towards the quinoa option for both the nutrition boost and sometimes the delicate rice noodles break apart on me creating a bit of a mess. (But a happy, delicious mess nonetheless!) Quinoa is a great choice especially for make-ahead meals & lunches and the salad tastes awesome the next day after all the flavors get a chance to mingle. You can enjoy it both chilled or warm - whatever your preference! For more notes and detailed instruction on the sauce, see my full post here for the Thai Peanut Sauce. Hope you enjoy!

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Vegan, gluten-free (with tamari), oil-free
Serves about 4-5 (more as a side)

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups red cabbage (shredded)
1 medium carrot
1 red bell pepper
2 green onions
1/3 cup cilantro
1/2 cup cashews (or peanuts, or a combo of both)
Other additions: snow peas, edamame, tofu, cucumber, broccoli, fresh Thai basil, sesame seeds, bean sprouts, shredded kale, spinach, etc.

{For the garlic-ginger peanut sauce}
1/2 cup peanut butter (I use creamy, natural)
2 Tbsp. brown sugar or maple syrup (more/less to taste)
1 1/2 Tbsp. tamari/soy sauce
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon or lime juice
1-2 cloves garlic
3/4 tsp. fresh grated ginger, or more to taste
Hot water (to thin to desired consistency)
Optional: red pepper flakes

Rinse and cook the quinoa according to package instructions.*
Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce: mince garlic and grate ginger. In a mixing bowl, add all ingredients except water. Heat about 3/4 cup of water to just under boiling. Slowly add water, a couple tablespoons at a time, and whisk. Continue adding water and whisking until sauce reaches your desired consistency. (I usually end up adding roughly 1/2 cup water.) Set aside.
Prepare veggies: thinly slice or shred cabbage, grate carrot, thinly slice or dice bell pepper, slice green onions, and roughly chop cilantro (stems removed). Place in a large mixing bowl.
Add cashews (and/or peanuts) and cooked quinoa.
Add dressing and toss well to combine.
Top with more nuts or cilantro if desired.

I simmer 3/4 cup quinoa in about 1 1/4 cup water or veggie broth covered for about 20 minutes. (I use water for this recipe since it has plenty of other flavor going on, but otherwise I like to use veggie broth to cook my quinoa for a nice flavor boost.)
This salad keeps well covered in the fridge for about 3-4 days, making it a great choice for take-along lunches, picnics, etc.!

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Looking for more salad inspiration? 🌿
Check out these 12+ Fresh, Colorful Salads!


  1. Looks delicious and I want to make it this week. Are the cashews raw or roasted?

    1. Hi Lisa! I used raw cashews but feel free to toss in whatever you have on hand :) Hope you enjoy it - have a beautiful week! -Kaitlin

    2. Thanks Kaitlin! Hope to make this today. I bought all the ingredients last week and never got around to it.

  2. This was an amazing recipe. So colorful and nutritious. I'm afraid it won't last long! Thank you thank you. A real winner

    1. Aww that’s lovely to hear! Thanks so much for the sweet message - I’m happy you enjoyed! Wishing you a wonderful weekend! -Kaitlin

  3. I made this today for lunch for my husband and myself and wow! it was delicious. I added edamame to my serving and my husband ate his in lettuce wraps. So good!!