Thai Quinoa Crunch Salad – This colorful quinoa salad is loaded with crunchy veggies and a creamy peanut dressing that just gets better with time. It’s the perfect meal prep lunch! (Gluten-Free, Vegan)
Between two working parents and two kids’ distance-learning schedules, our weekdays have been quite a juggling act lately! I’ve been trying to give myself a leg-up by doing as much in advance as we can. Lately, that’s meant having my kids pack lunches (yes, even for home!), making some kind of easy snack (like energy bites or granola bars) on the weekend, and (if I have the energy), tackling a breakfast or lunch idea for the grown-ups.
It’s hit-and-miss (some weeks we are more prepared than others), but even just picking 2-3 things to do ahead of time has made our days so much smoother. That means I have more energy for tackling school video calls and homework.
This Thai Quinoa Salad has been a good one for us lately. I love the colorful veggies, satisfying crunch, and creamy peanut dressing to tie it all together. It’s a delicious, healthy lunch that keeps well for a few days in the fridge and tastes AMAZING to boot. Here’s what you need to get started…
HERE’S WHAT GOES INTO MY THAI QUINOA CRUNCH SALAD:
COOKED QUINOA. Cooked quinoa makes a hearty, filling base for this Thai quinoa salad. I love that quinoa boasts some good plant-based protein and tastes amazing with the dressing! (PS – Don’t know how to cook quinoa? Learn how to cook perfectly fluffy quinoa every time here)
PURPLE CABBAGE. Full of satisfying crunch and an array of good-for-you nutrients, purple cabbage is a delicious addition to this Thai quinoa salad.
RED BELL PEPPER. For more color, I love adding red bell peppers. You can use any sweet bell pepper you like–red, yellow, and orange are all lovely!
SHREDDED CARROTS. I prefer shredded carrots for this Thai Quinoa Crunch Salad. They blend right in and add another layer of color.
CUCUMBER + GREEN ONIONS. For some green, I love adding cucumbers (so refreshing!) as well as some green onions for some subtle onion flavor. (You can skip them if you don’t like onions.)
CILANTRO. Then, for some freshness, I like finishing the veggies off with bright, fresh cilantro. If you’re not a cilantro fan, you can try a mix of fresh mint and (Thai) basil!
CRUSHED PEANUTS OR SALTED CASHEWS. For one last layer of satisfying crunch, I like adding some salty peanuts or cashews to the salad right before serving. It’s DELICIOUS and really plays up the flavor in the dressing. Speaking of which…
CREAMY THAI PEANUT DRESSING. I could eat this peanut dressing by the spoonful! Made from peanut butter, coconut milk, tamari, maple syrup, lime juice, it’s the perfect blend of flavors and ties all of these colorful veggies together.
MIX IT UP! HERE ARE SOME MORE TASTY MIX-INS TO TRY IN THIS THAI QUINOA SALAD:
If you’re in the mood to play with your food, here are some fun mix-ins you can try with this Thai quinoa salad…
- TRY FRESH MANGO. Fresh mango is tasty with these flavors. The subtle sweetness is really nice with the savory-salty-umami notes going on!
- GO FOR AVOCADO. I love it in and on All The Things, but some diced avocado is really dynamite here. (It’s *not* great if you’re meal-prepping, but it’s awesome to add right before serving!)
- ADD SOME EDAMAME. Steamed edamame is delicious with these Thai-inspired flavors. It’s a great plant-based source of protein, too!
- ADD CHICKEN. This is a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken or grilled chicken!
- MIX IN SOME GREENS. You can also get away with adding some greens to this salad–spinach or finely shredded kale work well!
FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST THAI QUINOA SALAD:
HOW TO COOK QUINOA. If you’re new to cooking quinoa, you might find my How to Cook Quinoa tutorial helpful. It’ll walk you through my method for fluffy, perfectly-cooked quinoa every time.
FILL IT OUT EVEN MORE! Try adding steamed edamame for even more plant-based protein! Or, if you’re not vegan/vegetarian, feel free to add some grilled chicken (I recommend this!)
MAKE IT FOR MEAL PREP! If you’re prepping this Thai quinoa salad for healthy lunches throughout the week, you can mix all the veggies and quinoa up and either dress the salad or keep the dressing separate. It’ll keep remarkably well for 2-3 days dressed. I recommend adding the peanuts or cashews right before serving. (PS – I love these meal prep containers!)
GOT LEFTOVER CABBAGE? I love it when I can easily re-purpose leftovers! You can use several of these same ingredients for my Egg Roll in a Bowl, Cauliflower Fried Rice, or Fish Tacos with Cilantro Lime Slaw. Win-win-win!
FYI – THIS DRESSING WILL THICKEN UP. Our Thai peanut dressing will thicken in the refrigerator. Give it a few minutes at room temperature to loosen back up, if you like!
LOVE THIS THAI QUINOA SALAD? YOU MIGHT ALSO LOVE:
- Thai Chopped Salad
- My Big Fat Greek Quinoa Salad
- Powerhouse Quinoa Salad
- Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Peanut Sauce
- Creamy Coconut Chia Pudding