hands holding a bowl of thai quinoa salad with peanut dressing

Grab a napkin because you’re going to want to lick your bowl clean after the last bite of Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing! Between the spoon-drink-worthy peanut dressing, and the fresh and healthy ingredients its drizzled on top of, this salad is an absolute dream to eat from first taste to, well, don’t say I didn’t warn you about how this eating experience is going to end. ;)

Thai Quinoa Salad is the perfect transition meal from heavy comfort foods into light and springy dishes, though the combination of flavors, textures and ingredients are so delicious you’ll be making this dish all year round.

overhead photo of a bowl of thai quinoa salad with peanut dressing

Quinoa and Lettuce Based Salad

Over the past few months I’ve been working with a friend of mine who’s a dietitian on creating a recipe ebook for her clients, and through that process I’ve been re-introduced to quinoa. Quinoa is technically a seed but once it’s prepared you eat it like a grain – similar to rice, for example. Quinoa is not only gluten free but packed with protein and other nutrients like fiber, folate, magnesium, zinc, and iron.

They don’t call it a super food for nothing!

I used to eat quinoa constantly many years ago (here’s all my quinoa recipes!) but fell out of the habit somewhere along the way. Already long story short, my friend Kim and I created a few salad recipes for her ebook that pair quinoa with lettuce for a protein and nutrition boost, and the concept is totally rocking my world!

Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing

In Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing, cooked then cooled quinoa is combined with lettuce plus lots of fresh and crunchy herbs and vegetables, then drizzled with my signature Peanut Dressing. If you’ve tried this recipe before then you know how INSANELY delicious this dressing is.

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The result is a salad that eats like a true meal, and seriously, literally, you will want to lick your bowl clean at the end. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Ingredients Needed

  • Quinoa: I like Bob’s Red Mill quinoa which I cook in chicken or vegetable broth for max flavor. Whatever brand you buy, be sure the package says “pre rinsed” as quinoa has a bitter coating that needs to be rinsed off prior to cooking. You can find quinoa at virtually any grocery store these days.
  • Lettuce: Use whatever you’ve got in the fridge – spring mix, baby spinach, romaine – whatever!
  • Red bell pepper: Red bell pepper brings flavor, crunch, and color to this salad.
  • Shredded carrots: I buy a bag of pre-shedded carrots every week because they’re so easy and convenient to add to soups, stir fries, and salads.
  • Edamame: Edamame adds plant-based protein to this salad. I keep a bag of frozen shelled organic edamame on hand at all times to toss into stir fries, or thaw in a bowl of water to add to salads.
  • Green onions: Green onions provide a nice crisp zip to the salad.
  • Peanuts: Minced peanuts add more craveable flavor and crunch to this quinoa salad.
  • Fresh cilantro: Chopped cilantro brings a burst of freshness to each bites, plus it pairs super well with the peanut dressing.
  • Peanut Dressing: Raid the cupboards for the everyday ingredients needed to shake up this easy yet mind blowing dressing. It will immediately become your new favorite salad dressing!

Make Once, Eat Twice

The recipe for Thai Quinoa Salad makes enough for two big salads so it’s great for meal prep. Eat one serving for lunch, then pack the second serving in a glass dish, or layer the ingredients in a mason jar (lettuce on top), and drizzle with dressing just before serving a day or two later.

Serve it as a Side

Thai Quinoa Salad also makes for an excellent side dish to pair with grilled or rotisserie chicken, or shrimp, in particular. In fact, the leftover dressing is fabulous drizzled over any cooked, hot protein.

SO healthy, SO delicious, let’s get to it!

a fork in a bowl of thai quinoa salad with fresh herbs and lime wedges

How to Make the Salad

Start by cooking quinoa in chicken broth or vegetable broth for max flavor, or simply in water. Follow the package directions, but generally you’ll add quinoa and liquid in a 1:2 ratio, respectively, to a pot then bring to a boil, place a lid on top, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and voila — cooked quinoa!

Let the quinoa cool slightly — you can make it up to several days ahead of time.

cooked quinoa in a pot

When it’s time to eat, add the cooked quinoa to a bowl with mixed greens, shelled edamame, green onions, fresh cilantro, red bell peppers, shredded carrots, and minced peanuts. 

ingredients for thai quinoa salad in a mixing bowl

How to Make the Peanut Dressing

Next mix up the Peanut Dressing. This recipe will make enough to generously coat two salads with a little leftover. Use it to dress other salads, or dunk into with fresh veggies, sauteed chicken, or grilled shrimp. Or, like I said, grab a spoon…

To a jar with a tight fitting lid, or bowl, add:

  • Peanut butter
  • Honey (or pure maple syrup to keep the recipe vegan)
  • Gluten free Tamari (or soy sauce — dish will not be gluten-free if using traditional soy sauce)
  • Rice vinegar
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Sesame oil
  • Ground ginger
  • Fresh garlic cloves
  • Fresh lime juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Hot water

Shake or whisk the dressing until it’s smooth and creamy. Done!

peanut salad dressing in a mason jar

Drizzle the quinoa salad with the peanut dressing then add a squeeze of fresh lime juice, if you please, and dig in. Oh my gosh, I am telling you this is the most fresh, most flavorful salad of your life. SO GOOD! Enjoy, enjoy!

a fork in a bowl of thai quinoa salad with fresh herbs and lime wedges

More Healthy and Filling Salad Recipes

Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing

5

Description

Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing is packed with plant based protein! You will love every drop of this healthy, filling, flavorful dish!

Ingredients

serves 2

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 2 big handfuls mixed greens OR baby spinach
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped or thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons peanuts, minced
  • handful fresh cilantro, chopped
  • For the Peanut Dressing:
    • 1/4 cup peanut butter
    • 2 Tablespoons honey
    • 1-1/2 Tablespoons gluten free Tamari
    • 1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • heaping 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 large or 2 small cloves garlic, pressed or minced
    • juice of 1/2 lime (other half sliced into wedges)
    • 1/8 teaspoon salt
    • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
    • 2 Tablespoons hot water

Directions

  1. For the Peanut Dressing: Add all ingredients to a bowl or mason jar with a tight fitting lid then whisk or shake well to combine. Set aside.
  2. Divide remaining salad ingredients between two bowls then drizzle with dressing and serve with lime wedges.

Notes

  • Cook quinoa in chicken or vegetable broth to give it more flavor.
  • Feel free to add protein to bulk this salad up – I like sauteed or roasted shrimp, or shredded rotisserie chicken.

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

photo collage of thai quinoa salad with peanut dressing

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin