This Chickpea Thai Quinoa Salad is gluten-free, easy to make, and deliciously healthy. Quinoa, chickpeas, carrots, cabbage, and cilantro are topped with a creamy peanut dressing for a quick and hearty meal that is ready in just 15 minutes!
If you've been a VNutrition reader for a while, you probably know I'm a Thai food fanatic. Remember my Thai Basil Noodles and Easy Peanut Noodles? I even made my own Easy Peanut Sauce to throw on just about anything I can think of.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
So it shouldn't surprise you that I combined all of my favorite Thai flavors into an easy-to-make Thai quinoa salad! This recipe is:
- Fast & Easy. You'll have a filling meal ready for eating in just 15 minutes!
- Allergen Friendly. It's gluten-free and soy-free, meaning you can feel free to nom it all down!
- Wholesome & Healthy. Packed with crunchy veggies, protein-heavy, chickpeas, and heart-healthy whole grains, this is a meal you can feel very good about eating.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Quinoa - Any color will do here! Be sure to rinse the quinoa before cooking to remove any bitterness.
- Chickpeas - Canned chickpeas are one of my favorite pantry staples. Just open, drain, and rinse and you're ready to go! Oh, and don't toss the liquid if you like to bake; known as aquafaba, that stuff is vegan baker's gold.
- Cabbage - Red, green, or white cabbage will both work here, but I love the vibrant purple in this grain bowl.
- Carrot - Again, any color will do!
- Cilantro - Fresh cilantro adds tons of fresh, herbaceous goodness here. If you aren't a fan, opt for parsley, mint, or Thai basil instead.
- Peanut Butter - Opt for creamy peanut butter to make your dressing. Also, be sure to reach for natural peanut butter without any added sugar or hydrogenated fat to keep it nice and healthy.
- Vegetable Broth - I always keep some Better Than Bouillon in the fridge so veggie broth is never far from reach.
- Tamari - This is a gluten-free version of soy sauce, but you can use the regular kind if gluten isn't a problem for you. If soy is off the table, trade in liquid aminos (not GF) or coconut aminos (GF).
- Lime Juice - Fresh is far superior to the jarred stuff. To get the most juice out of your fruit, give it a firm roll on the countertop for about 10-15 seconds before cutting into it.
- Maple Syrup - Feel free to use your sweetener of choice. Agave nectar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, or date syrup will all do the trick.
- Rice Wine Vinegar - I love the light, almost floral taste of rice wine vinegar, but you can use apple cider vinegar in a pinch.
- Garlic Powder & Onion Powder - Keep these allium powders in your cabinet for a quick burst of flavor without busting out your cutting board, getting sticky fingers, or bursting into tears.
- Sriracha - While this is an optional addition, I highly recommend it for a bit of heat and delicious flavor. You can also swap in sambal oelek if that's what you have on hand.
How To Make Thai Quinoa Salad
This simple Thai quinoa salad couldn't be easier to assemble. Here's how it's done:
Step 1: Veggies. Add all salad ingredients to a bowl.
Step 2: Dressing. In a separate bowl whisk the ingredients to make the peanut dressing. Add more veggie broth or water if you would like a thinner consistency. Note: you might not need all of the dressing.
Step 3: Toss. Add dressing to salad ingredients and toss until combined. Enjoy!
This delightfully filling, crunchy, and refreshing Thai quinoa salad is pretty perfect as is, but taste is entirely subjective. Here at V Nutrition and Wellness, I want to encourage all of my readers to make the foods that bring them the most joy possible! Here are a few customizations you can make:
- Add extra protein. Try my Tofu Crumbles, Grilled Tofu Steaks, Tasty Marinated Tofu, Vegan Chicken Strips, Popcorn Tofu Nuggets, or Tempeh Crumbles.
- Make it extra spicy. Add a drizzle of sriracha or sambal oelek to the top to amp up the flavor.
- Swap out the veggies. I'm a sucker for all things cabbage, but you can also opt to use different lettuces. Or try a different grain like wheat berries or barley if you prefer!
Expert Tips & Tricks
- Keep it crunchy! If I know I'll be storing the salad in the fridge for a few days, I keep the peanut dressing separate so things don't get too soggy.
- Meal prep for weekday success! I often use the tips I share in my Vegan Meal Prep post to make everything easier for mealtimes. By pre-making the quinoa and peanut sauce on the weekend you're basically set for an easy dinner or lunch. You would just have to slice the veggies which you can do in minutes with a mandolin (check out my must have kitchen tools for a plant-based kitchen).
- Convenience is king. Another option for those veggies is to buy them already sliced. My grocer has both carrots and red cabbage pre-grated/sliced. It saves so much time and hassle on a busy night.
People are always asking me: "Will I get enough protein on a plant-based diet?" and I always answer that they will so long as you're eating a healthy, well-rounded meal.
My Thai Quinoa Salad includes both quinoa AND chickpeas, both of which add lots of protein and fiber.
Quinoa is considered a "complete" protein because it contains all the essential amino acids that our body can't make itself. It also contains good amounts of folate, magnesium, iron, fiber, and zinc.
Besides protein, chickpeas are a healthy source of carbohydrates, fiber, manganese, and folate.
Yep! It'll last for about 3 days in the fridge. If you plan on keeping it for longer, store the grains, veggies, and dressing separately to keep it from getting soggy.
Feel lucky! That creamy peanut sauce is one of my all-time favorite things for dipping veggies, tempeh, or tofu into. Use it to dress up anything from avocado toast to crudites!
Sure! Simply swap the peanut butter for tahini (sesame butter) or sunflower seed butter instead.
Other Tasty Quinoa Recipes
If you make this recipe and LOVE IT, please give it 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐!
Easy Chickpea Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing
- 1.5 cups cooked quinoa
- 15 oz can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
- 2 cups red/purple cabbage (see notes)
- 1 large carrot grated (about 1 cup)
- .5 cup cilantro chopped
- Add all salad ingredients to a bowl.
- In a separate bowl whisk the ingredients to make the peanut dressing. Add more veggie broth or water if you would like a thinner consistency. Note: you might not need all of the dressing.
- Add dressing to salad ingredients and toss until combined. Salad will last in the fridge for about 3 days.*
PLEASE NOTE: Nutritional information data is computer generated and only an estimate so it should be used only as a guide.
Mary Ellen Valverde MS, CNS, LDN is a Licensed Nutritionist and Certified Nutrition Specialist who empowers vegans to feel clear and confident about what is uniquely nourishing to them. Mary Ellen's recipes and nutrition information have been featured on Yahoo News, Parade, VegNews, LIVESTRONG, Dr. Axe, Greatist, LIVEKINDLY, Brit+Co, Well+Good, and more.