Recipe: Crunchy Thai Cashew Quinoa Salad

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I have to say, I had gotten sick of quinoa awhile ago.  There are so many things I love about it; its high protein content, quick preparation time, subtle crunch, versatility.  But it became a trend and when that happens we tend to overdose on it.  Quinoa salads were everywhere I turned.  I stumbled upon this recipe recently and after preparing and tasting it, I am inspired to love quinoa again.  It’s nutritionally balanced, holds up really well throughout the week and includes some flavors that are my favorite.  We love playing with Asian dishes at Nourish Northwest because of the complexity of flavors.  Many Asian dishes hit on all of the five tastes: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and umami.  This recipe hits them all: sweet from the honey, salty from the soy sauce, bitter from the cabbage, sour from the lime and umami from the combination of the flavors in the dressing.  Enjoy!

Crunchy Thai Cashew Quinoa Salad
INGREDIENTS
  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1-2 cups shredded red cabbage, depending on how much crunch you like
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup diced green onions
  • ½ cup cashew halves or peanuts (honey-roasted is good)
  • Optional: 1 cup edamame or chickpeas
  • Fresh lime, for a bit of tang
  • For the dressing:
  • ¼ cup all natural peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce, gluten-free if desired
  • 1 tablespoon honey (use agave if vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Water to thin, if necessary

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INSTRUCTIONS
  1. To cook quinoa: Rinse quinoa with cold water in mesh strainer. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. Add in quinoa and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with fork; place in large bowl and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. You should have a little over 2 cups of quinoa.
  2. To make dressing: Add peanut butter and honey or agave to a medium microwave safe bowl; heat in microwave for 20 seconds. Add in ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, and both sesame and olive oil and stir until mixture is smooth and creamy. If you want a thinner dressing, simply stir in a teaspoon or two of water or olive oil.
  3. Add as much or as little dressing as you’d like to the quinoa. I always start out with a little bit of dressing and usually add more to suit my taste preferences. Alternatively you can save the dressing for later and add when you are ready to eat; however the flavors of the dressing usually soak into the salad so I love adding it to the quinoa first.
  4. Next fold in red pepper, onion, cabbage, carrots, and cilantro into the quinoa. Garnish with cashews and green onions. Serve chilled or at room temperature with lime wedges if desired.

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