Crunchy Thai Peanut and Quinoa Salad

I created the name Vibrant Beat in part to emphasize the importance of consuming a variety of vibrantly-colored foods, all of which contain unique phytochemicals which act as anti-oxidants and prevent and treat chronic disease.

This recipe exemplifies a meal that contains an entire spectrum of colors: green, red, purple, and orange. In addition, I’ll oftentimes make it with black rice in place of quinoa which adds beneficial anthocyanins, the same class of phytonutrient found in blackberries and blueberries.

Aside from all of the nutritious vegetables, this dish also contains garlic, ginger, and cilantro, all of which have powerful disease-fighting properties.

For additional protein and fiber, top with crispy baked tofu squares or mix in some shelled edamame (or be a rebel and do both!). No matter how you decide to prepare it, the flavors and textures of this dish will not fail to please!



  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa (I have used other grains such as black rice and farro. I really enjoy the black rice because it contains both protein and the potent class of antioxidants, anthocyanins)
  • 1 ½ cups water (or whatever amount is required to prepare the desired grain you decide to cook)
  • 2 cups shredded purple cabbage (I usually just use 1/2 of a medium to large cabbage without measuring an exact amount. This can be sliced thinly with a knife, but you can also use a mandoline or shredding blade of a food processor)
  • 1 cup grated carrot (you can buy these preshredded in the supermarket if you want to save time).
  • 1 cup thinly sliced snow peas or sugar snap peas (I buy prewashed snowpeas, cut off the ends, cut each in half, then slice thinly)
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 red pepper thinly sliced (julienne)
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced green onion
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted and salted peanuts, for garnish
  • Optional: Add 1/2-1 cup of shelled edamame beans (can usually buy frozen)

Peanut sauce (double this if you like the salad a bit more moist. I recommend adding a little bit at a time and mixing in until desired degree of moisture is obtained)

  • ¼ cup smooth peanut butter (use fresh-ground with no added oil, salt, or sugar if possible)
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey (I use honey to avoid the added maple flavor. Can also use agave nectar to make vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (usually found in the vinegar aisle or in Asian section of the grocery store)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or more to taste)
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (add more if you prefer spicy. I’ll sometimes add a small amount of chopped hot red chili)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • Can add 1-2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce for additional heat and flavor
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
  • Up to 1/4 cup water only if needed to thin


Cook the quinoa or preferred grain as per package instructions. Set it aside to cool.

Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce: place all ingredients in a blender or small food processor and blend until smooth. You can also place all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a hand blender. Add water if needed to thin to desired consistency.

Top with chopped peanuts, edamame, and/or crispy baked tofu if desired.

In a large serving bowl, combine the cooked quinoa and all vegetables. Mix in dressing a little bit at a time until desired consistency.

This salad keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for about 4 days. If you don’t want your chopped peanuts to get soggy, store them separately from the rest and garnish just before serving.

Adapted from original recipe by Cookie and Kate.