Thai Quinoa Salad

I’ve been on such a barley kick lately that quinoa kind of fell off the radar for a little while. While perusing the bulk bins at our local natural foods store, I saw the bin of quinoa and realized it had been too long since it made an appearance in our kitchen.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it, though, so I started browsing through my cookbook collection and this quinoa salad with classic Thai flavors caught my eye. It reminds me a lot of tabouli, but with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, and cilantro instead of lemon and parsley. Obviously, it’s not a classic Thai recipe, but I love the flavor and healthy ingredients.

I added tempeh to the original recipe so it could stand alone as a main dish salad. I sliced it into really thin pieces, pan fried them until golden brown, then crumbled it up (a technique borrowed from this recipe on Herbivoracious). If you’re hesitant about trying tempeh, this is a great way to do it because you hardly notice it’s there!

Recipe:
(adapted from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider)

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 stalk of lemongrass (bottom 3″ only), finely chopped
1 kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped
3 small red Thai chiles, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
8 ounces tempeh, sliced very thinly
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 shallot, chopped and rinsed with cold water
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
3 tbsp dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

Toast the quinoa in a dry skillet over medium heat for about five minutes.
Transfer to a large saucepan and add the water, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, chiles, and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 12 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork. Spread in a shallow dish to cool completely.

While the quinoa is cooling, heat the oil in a wide nonstick skillet. When hot, add the tempeh slices in a single layer and fry until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side. (This may need to be done in batches) Transfer to a plate to cool, then crumble between your fingers

Transfer the cooled quinoa to a medium bowl and add the mint, cilantro, crumbled tempeh and shallot. Toss with the lime juice, coconut milk, and sprinkle with chopped peanuts to serve.

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8 Responses to “Thai Quinoa Salad”


  1. 1 Jenn March 11, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Oh yum, and all my favorite flavors! I might do this with some thai eggplant (I don’t think I could convince my husband on the tempeh) – I love how fresh it looks!

  2. 2 julo March 11, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Wow, great recipe! I love quinoa, but I always have trouble incorporating it into main dishes. I love the addition of the tempeh and the Thai flavors! Unfortunately, I have yet to ever see a lime leaf anywhere where I live, even the Asian market! Grrr! Do you know of any acceptable substitutions? Maybe some fresh basil?

    • 3 Cate March 11, 2010 at 1:22 pm

      It would still be good without lime leaf, thanks to the lime juice. I know some websites sell frozen lime leaves, so maybe that’s an option

  3. 4 Jessica March 11, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Love quinoa and I love Thai flavors, but I have never put them together. Great idea!

  4. 5 Kate at Serendipity March 12, 2010 at 7:48 am

    This looks wonderful. Quinoa thai-style. I NEVER would have thought to put these together. Great idea!

  5. 6 Jill March 17, 2011 at 11:53 am

    I made this for lunch today and it was incredible.
    Love the flavours and it was so healthy and filing!
    Definitely a make again!

  6. 7 Vicky April 11, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Thai flavors and quinoa? I’m intrigued! Can’t wait to try this!


  1. 1 Thai Quinoa Salad |          Trackback on March 17, 2011 at 3:47 pm

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