Quinoa Recipes

Quinoa Pad Thai Salad

A healthy pad thai salad with a creamy peanut butter dressing, topped with cooked quinoa and roasted cashews for added protein and an extra crunch.

Pad Thai Quinoa Salad

When I was growing up, we didn’t have a ton of ethnic food options in our area. We had Chinese food and Italian, but that was pretty much it. It wasn’t until I went to college that I started to explore new cuisines – and discovered my love for Thai food.

Like most, I started out with the basic dishes and pretty much only ordered Pad Thai. It wasn’t spicy, had familiar flavors and was made with noodles. Sounded pretty great to me! I just adored the peanut-y sauce, the wide rice noodles, the scrambled eggs, basically everything about it.

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How to make a Pad Thai Quinoa Salad

But as I started exploring more of the menu, I realized there was so much more to the cuisine than what I was exposing myself to. The curries, the stir-fries, the soups and the green papaya salad. Oh, the green papaya salad. But we’ll save that for another day.

I still love Thai cuisine and we order it about once or twice a month (Fridays and Saturdays are our takeout nights), now I almost never order Pad Thai. There are a few reasons for that, one being that I know that it’s probably one of the least healthy options on the menu, two being I haven’t found a great one in New York yet and three being the fact that I simply prefer other items on the menu (hello, red curry!).

Easy Pad Thai Salad with Quinoa

Sometimes the Pad Thai craving hits me and it’s all I can think about for days. When that happens, I most certainly order it. Most recently however, this craving came when I was in Vermont and my Pad Thai ordering options were quite limited.

So rather than spending my time pining away for the dish I longed for, I decided to make my own version of it. While this isn’t quite your standard Pad Thai dish, if it’s the flavor of the dish that you love (like it is for me), this salad will be perfect for you.

Quinoa Salad with Pad Thai Sauce

My Pad Thai salad starts with a bed of thinly sliced greens, and then is topped with thinly sliced peppers, carrots and zucchini, and sprinkled with roasted cashews and sesame quinoa. The sauce (or dressing, I suppose) is a rich, salty peanut butter sauce that quickly takes this salad from a snooze fest to a bright and spicy Asian-inspired meal that awakens the taste buds and satisfies your love for traditional Pad Thai.

For those of us who are constantly on the go, balancing work or kids or school, this salad is a great option. On Sunday, simply chop up the veggies that you need for the week (I’d recommend doubling the recipe), make a big batch of cooked quinoa, whisk up a double batch of the dressing and you’ll have lunch for the whole week.

Peanut Quinoa Salad with Veggies

Feeling like you need a little extra protein? Perfect, just add your favorite meat or plant-based protein. This salad would be delicious with grilled chicken, baked tamari tofu or even chickpeas. Or just eat it alone because you’re still getting protein from the cashews, peanut butter and quinoa!

Pad Thai Quinoa Salad

With the flavors of pad thai, plus some of the ingredients, this Pad Thai Quinoa Salad is the perfect way to enjoy the classic takeout but in a super healthy way.

  • 1
    head romaine
    or green of choice, thinly sliced
  • 1
    red pepper
    seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1
    large carrot
  • 1
    small zucchini
    or ½ medium zucchini, julienned
  • 1/2
    cooked quinoa
  • 3
  • Cilantro to garnish
  • 1/4
    roasted peanuts

for the sauce

  • 2
    peanut butter
  • 1
    sriracha sauce
    or other Asian hot sauce
  • 1
    gluten-free tamari
  • 1
    sesame oil
  • ¼
    ground ginger
  • 2
    – 3 tablespoons water
    or more as needed
  1. Place vegetables into a large salad or mixing bowl.

  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour dressing over veggies and toss to coat.

  3. Transfer to two plates, add 1/2 of the quinoa and 1/2 the cashews to each plate.

  4. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Pad Thai Quinoa Salad

Amount Per Serving

Calories 332
Calories from Fat 180

% Daily Value*

Total Fat 20g

Saturated Fat 3g

Sodium 531mg

Potassium 888mg

Total Carbohydrates 27g

Dietary Fiber 7g

Sugars 8g

Protein 14g

Vitamin A

Vitamin C



* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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