This vibrant and fresh Thai Quinoa Salad is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers. It’s a healthy eater’s dream: flavorful, chock-full of protein and veggies, satisfying and low in fat. I usually make it as a light lunch, but you can also serve it alongside other Asian dishes for dinner or make it a meal in itself by adding cooked shrimp, crab or lobster.
The ingredients are pretty straightforward. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) has become mainstream in the past few years and is available at most large supermarkets. It’s a high protein seed that has a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture. It looks like couscous and is eaten like a grain, but it’s actually a cousin of spinach, Swiss chard, and other leafy greens.
Fish sauce is also fairly easy to find. Most large supermarkets carry it in the Asian section and you can always find it at Whole Foods or Asian markets. It’s a dark, pungent liquid used in Southeast Asian cooking. Contrary to what you might expect, it doesn’t add a “fishy” taste to foods at all, but rather a salty, savory flavor. If possible, buy a brand imported from Thailand or Vietnam. And don’t worry about buying a large bottle — it keeps forever.
Begin by cooking the quinoa. The key to success is not following the package instructions, which always call for too much liquid and result in mushy quinoa. The ideal ratio is 1 cup of quinoa to 1-2/3 cups of liquid. Simply combine the water, salt and quinoa is a pan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until the quinoa is done, about 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the little white “tails” sprout from the grains.
While the quinoa cooks, prepare the vegetables.
For the cucumbers, I like to use English (or hothouse) cucumbers because the skin is edible and you don’t need to peel them. They’re sometimes called seedless cucumbers but you still need to seed them, otherwise they’ll make your salad watery.
Slice the red pepper into bite-sized pieces, thinly slice the scallions and shred the carrot.
Next, make the dressing by combining the fresh lime juice (no bottled stuff!), sugar, vegetable oil, red pepper flakes and fish sauce in a small bowl. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
Combine the quinoa with the dressing, vegetables and fresh herbs.
Toss, serve and enjoy!
My Recipe Videos
Thai Quinoa Salad with Fresh Herbs and Lime Vinaigrette
For the Salad
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed (or pre-washed)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized strips
- 1 carrot, peeled and grated
- 1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
- 2 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
- 1/4 cup freshly chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped mint or basil (optional)
For the Dressing
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, from 3-4 limes
- 2-1/2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
- 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (use less if you don't like heat)
- Add quinoa, salt and 1-2/3 cups water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked. You'll know it is done when the little "tails" sprout from the grains. (If necessary add 1-2 tablespoons more water if the quinoa is not cooked by the time all the liquid is absorbed.) Transfer to a serving bowl and let cool in the refrigerator.
- In the meantime, make the dressing by combining the lime juice, fish sauce, vegetable oil, sugar and crushed red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
- Once the quinoa is cool, add the red bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, scallions, fresh herbs and dressing. Toss well, then taste and adjust seasoning with more salt, sugar and lime juice if necessary (I usually add a bit more of all). Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This salad keeps well for several days in the fridge.
- Per serving (4 servings)
- Calories: 263
- Fat: 8g
- Saturated fat: 1g
- Carbohydrates: 42g
- Sugar: 10g
- Fiber: 5g
- Protein: 7g
- Sodium: 603mg
- Cholesterol: 0mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.