Vegan Seduction and Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad
As of late, I’ve found myself seduced by proponents of a plant based diet. Interestingly enough, the strongest persuader has been the sheer quantity and quality of delicious vegan options, both at restaurants and at home. I recently enjoyed a lunch catered by Elizabeth’s Gone Raw, and I couldn’t get over the things that can be created using nothing but plants. I’ve also been feeling more empowered than limited by vegan cooking as of late. It makes for sort of a fun challenge.
Second for me has been the health benefits. Please don’t read health and think “weight loss,” because that’s not what I mean at all. I mean cholesterol (believe it or not, mine is high), cancer, diabetes, gastrointestinal, neurological and heart health. The list goes on. There is considerable evidence that a vegan diet is better for our health in pretty much every way possible. And very non-scientifically, putting lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in my body makes me feel good.
I’ll go ahead and put out any flames of anticipation: this is not a post where I tell you that I’ve decided to adopt a vegan lifestyle. No, that is not my intention any time soon. First of all there’s this…
There is no soy product, no combination of ground nuts, absolutely nothing that comes anywhere close to replicating that magic. Second, and perhaps I am being too honest here, I find dietary restrictions annoying. Other peoples’ and my own. I never want to have to ask for special accommodations or to be limited in what gastronomic awesomeness I can experience. But I do see a lot more veggies and legumes in my future and a lot less meat and cheese, especially when cooking at home.
This crunchy Thai quinoa salad I’ve been enjoying for lunch all week has been a great start. The ‘crunchy’ in the title is a very accurate descriptor… this salad has some serious crunch, which makes it oh so satisfying. Also, there’s something inherently satisfying about eating such vibrant colors. Just look at it! It does require some prep on the front end, chopping, dicing and more chopping. But if you make it Sunday night, you’ll be lunching great all week!
Crunchy Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing
Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen
- ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
- 2-3 cups shredded purple cabbage, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ¼ cup diced scallions
- ½ cup peanuts, chopped
- 1 cup edamame, shelled
- Fresh lime juice, to taste
*For the dressing:
- ¼ cup all natural peanut butter
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey (or agave if vegan to the extreme)
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
*Next time I might reduce the dressing by 1/3 – 1/4. I found it to be a very generous dressing:salad ratio. Not that it didn’t taste great (it did!) but it’s a lot of calories from dressing, particularly if you increase the serving size, as I found necessary.
- Cook the quinoa according to package. Remove from heat, transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.
- Meanwhile, prepare all of the veggies. Stir the diced onion into the quinoa while it’s still hot if you prefer a milder onion taste. Otherwise you can stir them in when you stir in the rest of the vegetables.
- To make dressing: add peanut butter and honey or agave to a medium microwave safe bowl; heat in microwave for 20 seconds. Add ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, and both oils and stir until mixture is smooth and creamy.
- Mix the dressing in with the quinoa. You can mix all of it in at once, or reserve some to drizzle on top when you are ready to eat (if you do this, you may want to thin it out with a little bit of water).
- Next fold in red pepper, cabbage, and carrots into the quinoa. Garnish with peanuts, lime juice and green onions. Serve chilled or at room temperature with lime wedges if desired.
*I initially tried to make this into five servings, but it simply wasn’t enough. Maybe for a side dish, but not for lunch. I recommend breaking this into four servings, and reducing the dressing as described above if you’re conscious of calories.