This vibrant colorful Thai peanut and quinoa salad has become a favorite of mine during this very hot summer in Chicago. Both vegan and gluten free, it is packed with vitamins, fibers, and proteins.
Being an adept of sweet and savory, I love Thai food, a type of food I have been introduced to when I lived in Sweden. This might sound a little bit strange to you as you read it now, but Swedes are crazy with Thailand, which has become their number one summer feeling destination to head to when it’s all dark and cold in winter in Sweden. Hence, they brought back their favorite culture home, introducing Thai massage and Thai food to Scandinavia (at least Sweden and Norway).
With this blend of two culinary cultures, new recipes come up, often amazing. I have recently tried Farang in Stockholm, a stylish eatery serving Pan-Asian dishes cooked in an open kitchen, and it was beyond amazing. A few months later, I tried Miss Voon, a modern restaurant that combines tastes from all the Asian cultures with European cuisine. Being long inspired by Asian kitchen, they now interpret it to their own personal way. How cool is that, right?
Really, if you head up to Stockholm at some point, I highly recommend you one of these two restaurants above (no need to try them both) since as you understand, Thai food has now become part of the Swedish culture as well. In families, people are inspired with Thai recipes that we found in the food magazines as well, and personally my favorite homemade and very easy Thai inspired dish is the Thai sweet chili salmon with cashews (good news, you can find the recipe on the blog here).
Another Thai dish I love is the traditional Pad Thai. However, I have reduced considerably my intake of meat and especially poultry these last years, as I like to keep an eye on the quality of the food I have in my plate and be aware of the origin of the meat (which is almost impossible when you eat out). So I started to order vegan options of this traditional dish in restaurants and I like it a lot. It is a good way to reduce your meat intake and keep control on what’s in your plate.
This vibrant salad has been inspired by the traditional Pad Thai as you can easily guess, but instead of noodles, I went for a gluten free option and chose quinoa instead, with the inspiration of Simply Quinoa here. You find all the veggies you have in a Pad Thai, but here they are not fried, just served raw mixed with the cooked quinoa, which is fulfilling and will bring your dish a great amount of proteins.
Then of course, you’ve got to choose the dressing to serve with your Pad Thai style salad. I am a big fan of peanut butter as many of you probably are as well (if you don’t make your own peanut butter, please remember to always go for a natural option with 100% peanuts and organic if possible – I discovered that having them both conditions reunited in one jar of peanut butter was quite challenging when shopping in the US). Sesame oil and rice vinegar are key signatures in this dish, and I highly advice against any substitute if possible – both of them can be found in the Asian section of your grocery store.
This salad is really easy and quick to make, and prepared in advance it will make a perfect lunch box, as long as you keep the sauce in a separate container until serving. I usually store the peanut sauce in a jar and keep it in the refrigerator. Oh, and don’t forget to garnish with fresh cilantro and extra peanuts on top for a Wow taste effect!
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 cup (100g) shredded cabbage
- 1 cup (175g) sliced red pepper
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup (15g) chopped cilantro
- ½ cup (90g) cooked quinoa
- ¼ cup (40g) dry roasted peanuts
- ½ cup (120g) creamy peanut butter
- ⅓ cup (120g) agave syrup
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 Tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
- 1-2 teaspoon Sriracha or any hot chile sauce
- Water as needed to thin the sauce
- Slice the ends of the zucchini and spiralize it into long noodles, or simply cut it into super thin stripes with the help of a potato peeler.
- Thinly slice cabbage, red pepper, either with a knife or a mandolin slicer, and add them to a large bowl with the zucchini noodles. Add the scallions, cilantro, cooled quinoa and peanuts.
- Warm up the peanut butter 10-15 seconds in the microwave to unthicken it.
- In a small bowl, combine together the peanut butter, agave syrup, lime juice, sesame oil, rice vinegar, fresh ginger and Sriracha sauce. Add water, one tablespoon at a time, until you obtain the desired consistency.
- Pour dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. Transfer to 2-3 bowls, sprinkle with a bit more peanuts and fresh cilantro.