Rainbow Quinoa Salad with Chili Garlic Sesame Dressing

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An overhead image of a bowl of quinoa, rainbow veggies, and crushed peanuts on a wooden board

Transition. It’s exciting. It’s scary. It’s a challenge.

We moved into our first home a few weeks back and are starting getting settled. Just this week, we finally have a couch to sit on (little victories!).

The move was fairly painless, but I always find that figuring out how you fit in a new space is the challenging part. We have a kitchen that fits more than one person, new windows that invite different lighting, new angles to work around. I’m feeling more at home one day, one recipe at a time.

This was the first blog recipe in our new space, and I wanted to document it so I’d remember what was going on in my head and in our kitchen during this new season of life.

Towel with broccoli, bell pepper, edamame, and red cabbage for making our Vegan quinoa Salad recipe

Do you ever see an image that inspires you to act in some way? This is how the inspiration struck for this 30-minute Asian-inspired quinoa salad.

A bowl of quinoa for making a gluten-free vegan Asian-inspired quinoa salad

I don’t remember where, but in passing I saw a photo of a salad with quinoa and some savory-sweet looking dressing. YUM, must act. Must have. The rest is history.

The base of this beautiful, crunchy, satisfying salad is protein-rich quinoa, which cooks up in about 25 minutes while the rest of the magic happens.

How to Make This Rainbow Quinoa Salad

  • Steam broccoli and edamame.
  • Shred cabbage.
  • Chop bell pepper.
  • Make dressing (that’s seriously tasty).
  • Toss.
  • Eat.
  • Yum.
  • Even better the next day.
Whisking together the sauce for our Asian Inspired Rainbow Quinoa Salad recipe

I hope you all love this salad. It’s:

Savory
Spicy
Sweet
Crunchy
Flavorful
Healthy
& SO easy to make

This is the perfect salad when you’re craving something satisfying, delicious, and veggie-packed. Half of the recipe boasts 24 grams of protein and 14 grams of fiber!

And although it’s delicious enjoyed fresh, something magical happens when it’s chilled and enjoyed the next day for lunch. Leftover game on point!

If you try this recipe, let us know! We love your comments, ratings, and – of course – your Instagram posts at #minimalistbaker! Cheers, friends!

Pouring dressing over our Asian Inspired Rainbow Quinoa Salad for a protein- and fiber- rich plant-based meal
Bowl of our gluten-free vegan Rainbow Quinoa Salad Recipe

Rainbow Quinoa Salad with Chili Garlic Sesame Dressing (30 Minutes!)

A healthy, filling, 30-minute Asian-inspired Rainbow Quinoa Salad with edamame, crisp veggies, and a spicy-sour-sweet dressing! A simple plant-based entrée or side.
Author Minimalist Baker
Print
Wooden salad spoons in a glass bowl filled with Asian Quinoa Salad
4.93 from 38 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Course Entree, Salad, Side
Cuisine Asian-Inspired, Gluten-Free, Vegan

Ingredients

QUINOA

  • 1 tsp sesame oil (toasted or untoasted)
  • 1/3 cup dry white quinoa (well rinsed and drained)
  • 2/3 cup water

VEGETABLES

  • 1 cup frozen edamame
  • 1 large head broccoli (cut into bite size pieces)
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded/very thinly sliced purple cabbage (or sub green cabbage or kale)
  • 1 cup shredded kale or chopped cilantro (optional)

DRESSING

  • 1 Tbsp almond, peanut, or cashew butter
  • 2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce (plus more to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup (plus more to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten free // or coconut aminos // plus more to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil (toasted or untoasted)
  • 1 tsp fresh minced ginger (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp crushed peanuts (optional // plus more for topping)

Instructions

  • Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add sesame oil and rinsed quinoa. Toast quinoa, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, then add water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 18-20 minutes (or until liquid is absorbed). Once cooked, turn off the heat and leave the lid on until serving (this helps make the quinoa fluffier).
  • While the quinoa is cooking, add 1 inch of water to a medium saucepan, heat over medium-high heat, and insert a steamer basket (or steam in the microwave). Once water is simmering, add the edamame, then the broccoli and cover. Cook for 2 minutes to gently thaw the edamame and steam the broccoli. Then remove from heat and transfer to a large mixing bowl (for serving). Set in the refrigerator to chill.
  • Next, prepare dressing. To a small mixing bowl add nut butter, chili garlic sauce, maple syrup, tamari (or coconut aminos), lime juice, sesame oil, minced ginger (optional), crushed peanuts (optional) and whisk to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more maple syrup for sweetness, chili garlic sauce for heat, tamari for saltiness, or lime juice for acidity. Set aside.
  • Add quinoa, sliced red pepper, and cabbage to the steamed broccoli and edamame and top with dressing and additional crushed peanuts (optional). Toss to combine. Serve immediately.
  • Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 2-3 days.

Notes

*Nutrition information is a rough estimate calculated with dressing and without optional ingredients.

Nutrition (1 of 4 servings)

Serving: 1 serving Calories: 309 Carbohydrates: 34.6 g Protein: 12.2 g Fat: 15.8 g Saturated Fat: 2 g Trans Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mg Sodium: 881 mg Fiber: 7.3 g Sugar: 10.9 g

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  1. Hana says

    I ran out of chili garlic sauce. I bought what I thought was chili garlic sauce. Realized that it was chili paste (similar packaging, oops). Thankfully I only used 1/2 Tbsp before catching it, but dear god it was SPICY. Be careful using chili paste, y’all. I added more quinoa + peanut butter + maple to even out. Still came out pretty good!

  2. Chris says

    This is hands down amazing! Everyone in my family loves it! I have made this many times, exactly as written and with changes due to what I have on hand, it’s always a hit.

  3. Nira says

    I steamed a bag of frozen stir fry vegetables instead of using the vegetable ingredients listed to cut down on prep work. Happened to have some fresh cilantro and peppers so added that. Also made a lot more quinoa and added beans and corn to bulk up recipe and add protein, therefore also made more sauce. No maple syrup so used coconut sugar I had on hand. Would make again .

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Laura, we haven’t tried that, but it might work! Let us know if you give it a try!

  4. Allison Roest says

    This is a delicious salad! The dressing is so flavorful. I used all raw vegetables and it turned out great.

  5. Katie says

    So yummy! This really is a great base for a salad and can be easily customized. I personally double the quinoa and broccoli. My boyfriend loathes kale, so I just mix the quinoa & veggies together and put it over a bed of kale mix for me.

    I’ve made it for my lunch for the week before and it holds up nicely!

  6. Michel Frayer says

    Amazing blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? I’m hoping to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any tips? Bless you!

  7. Camille says

    Late to the party, but better late than never! I used broccoli and cauliflower for my veggies with the red cabbage. I wish I had edamame- next time. Super tasty and so simple. I didn’t estimated on the sauce ingredients and it is very forgiving.

  8. Taylor says

    SO delicious. Made this last night, and I decided I wanted it to be broccoli heavy (because I like how it holds onto the dressing!), so I added more broccoli & made a little more dressing to compensate. Such great flavour & crunch. Very satisfying, and addictive! Oh and I crumbled some leftover MB Thai Quinoa Meatballs over top. Yummmm. Ps. I’m making it again tonight….

  9. Sue Carey says

    I’ve made this salad several times now and the whole family loves it. I add a whole package of frozen edamame just because we like it so well. You won’t be disappointed!

  10. Anna says

    This was excellent! Just added some green onion and a little fresh ginger to the dressing. Will be making this again. Thanks!

  11. Barb says

    What a beautiful salad and so many wonderful comments!
    I blocked Liz, who made the vulgar statement in her attempt to compliment the recipe.

  12. ToniAnn says

    Your recipes look extremely amazing!! I have just begun looking through to find some new go to meals. This looks fantastic and so many viewers have confirmed it, yeah!!
    Is there a substitute for the nut butter, that you know of???? One of my children has developed a nut allergy.
    I could omit it but I don’t think it would taste nearly as good.
    Thank you

  13. Nicole says

    Brought this to a potluck and it was the only bowl emptied! Made it for a dinner party the night after and it happened again! Plus people asked for the recipe. Well done!

  14. Michael says

    Help! I’m enjoying the recipes but I need a soy substitute. In ancient times when Japanese women thought their husbands were cheating on them they would feed them soy to lower their libido. As a man the last thing I need is more estrogen and man boobs. Not to mention one of my son’s is allergic to it. Please help because we’re missing out on some really good recipes.

  15. Anne Boyd says

    Great recipe! thank you. Love quinoa salads in the summer, they are great for packed lunches and picnics. This will be made often this summer!

  16. Muriel says

    Just made this and its absolutely delicious! Next time Im gonna add double the amount of quinoa since its a bit on the low side, but nonetheless it was really yummy!!

  17. M says

    Made this months ago as suggested by my sister and we both have the same complaint…serves 4!!!! Noooo! I want it to serve 1…just me alone with my bowl. No sharing and no portions. SO GOOD!!!

  18. Tindy says

    Loved this version of Asian quinoa salad. Added in some corn kernels, colours were vibrant and appetizing. Thank you for sharing!

  19. Monique says

    I really enjoyed this salad! I will definitely make this again. I wouldn’t change anything except maybe use a little less dressing next time. I felt a little overpowering when I ate it fresh, but it may absorb and be less moist when I have leftovers tomorrow. I literally cannot wait to eat it again!

  20. Debie says

    Made a batch and had a small portion right afterwards because I think I wanted to save most of it for tomorrow, it must taste better after one night in the fridge. But then I couldn’t stop eating :D This salad is a winner, can’t wait for tomorrow!

  21. Kathryn Tate says

    Just ate a large plate of this tremendous salad. THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH
    DANA!!!!!!! –FOR ALL YOUR WORK!!! What a healthy and filling, tasty salad.

  22. Anon says

    This salad was awesome! I tripled the recipe for a group of 7 people and they all loved it! It held up so well. I cooked the quinoa and veggies last night and kept everything separate in the fridge. I mixed up the quinoa and veggies in the morning, and we ate it 5 hours later (it was still in the fridge most of that time, though). Put the dressing right before served and it was still super fresh and crunchy. I only had a little bit leftover which I just ate for dinner. Still have leftover dressing though which I will be using again tomorrow!

  23. Alexia Prochnicki says

    This salad is absolutely deeeeeeeelicious <3 <3 <3 I didn't have edamame or any of the garnishes and it was still amazing.

  24. Laura Bassett says

    Went to a potluck this evening and FINALLY got to try out this recipe! Everyone loved it. This is about to become a staple in my home, and it’s a perfect go-to as a quick, hearty, healthy meal that I can pack and take to work too! Love that it also incorporated ingredients that I already had on hand and/or were inexpensive to purchase. Thanks for another amazing recipe, Dana!

  25. Allison says

    Dana,
    I have loved all your recipes thus far! I have four little kids and don’t think they would like the heat of the chili garlic sauce. Would it still be tasty without it, or is there a substitution you could recommend? Thanks!

  26. Emma says

    I make this over and over this summer! Any grain and vegetable with a little toughness works great with this sauce–have made it with farro, quinoa, kale, cabbage, carrot, cilantro, crispy tofu, etc. Such a keeper recipe, easy to get on the table for dinner and packs well for lunch the next day.

  27. Rachel says

    I didn’t have the time/ingredients to do the dressing, so I cheated a bit and used Asian sesame ginger salad dressing I already had. So, I can’t speak to the dressing in this recipe, but the salad was so yummy!!

  28. Paige says

    I can’t lie…I have made this salad 4 times since you published the recipe a couple of weeks ago. My husband LOVES it.

  29. Alice says

    OH MY GOODNESS….. so good. I added jicama and chicken. This is definitely going to be made again again and again…… and I just ordered your cookbook, can’t wait!

  30. Andi says

    This salad was great!! I made it with kale instead of cabbage, which I steamed a bit. The dressing is delicious! I brought left overs to a friend who isn’t even vegan and she loved it! I made this on a 100 degree day and it was so nice to not have to turn on the oven. Great recipe!! thank you

  31. Missy says

    This is one of the prettiest and tastiest dishes I’ve ever made! One note of warning is that the sauce is extremely spicy (possibly because of the brand of chili garlic sauce I used). I love spicy so it was great for me and my husband, but it wouldn’t have been suitable for some guests. Next time I may use a bit less chili garlic. Can’t wait to make this for my dad when he comes to visit next month!

  32. hugo says

    Woot, five stars! This is right up my alley, especially for a quick hot weather (or potluck) dish. I doubled the recipe (for leftovers) and added shredded carrot. Everyone should make this! I would recommend reducing the amount of maple syrup in the dressing, or adding it in small doses as you go. I found mine to be plenty sweet with half the listed amount. Same goes for the chili sauce–especially if yours is very spicy (like mine). Can’t wait for magical leftovers tomorrow…thank you, Dana!!

      • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerSupport @ Minimalist Baker says

        Hi Ashlee, maybe a neutral oil such as avocado oil? But for a sesame flavor, you’ll want to use toasted sesame oil.

  33. Asa says

    I added an extra spoonful of peanut butter and omitted 1,5 tablespoons of the toasted sesame oil – thought the oil would be overpowering. Turned out great with only 1,5 tablespoons of oil and extra pb. I also used agave instead of maple syrup and only 1 tbs. We loved this in our home.

  34. Sarah says

    This is so good! I pinned it because it happened to cover most of the veggies I got this week in my CSA, but I will definitely be making this again! I added sesame seeds instead of peanuts and they are a nice crunchy swap.

  35. rachel says

    I followed your recipe to the letter and it was WONDERFUL. Everything you promised it would be. In fact the sauce is so good, I think I’ll keep it as my stand-in for asian noodle salads and noodle stir fries. Thanks for all the work that goes into your recipes and posts. I’ve made at least a dozen recipes found on MB and I’ve never been disappointed.

  36. Licia says

    Made this for dinner yesterday, then was disappointed (yet not) that my carnivorous husband took the rest of it for lunch today! It was amazing; so much flavor. I added about a teaspoon of rice vinegar to the dressing (based on another one of your sauces), but I have no doubt it would be great either way. I am thinking the next-day veggies would have probably stayed more al dente if the dressing was kept separate from the leftovers and poured on when serving. Not that it mattered!

  37. Diane says

    Made this for dinner tonight…so delicious! Served it as a side to baked salmon. Will definitely make again. Thank you!

  38. Aisha C says

    Just made this last night and am enjoying it currently for lunch. So easy, refreshing and healthy. Great RECIPE. This is a keeper for me!
    Thank you! :)

  39. Katie says

    This was a great BBQ potluck side dish – I had several people ask for the recipe! You’ll look at the quinoa and think “That’s not enough”… it will be. Also, I added some ‘aging’ green beans to the steamer that were taking up space in the fridge, and I was not very fussy with measuring the dressing components and it turned out fabulous. Thanks!

  40. Anne Boyd says

    enjoying this now. Wonderful!! Though I missed the instruction ‘to chill’ and so mine is a warm salad. It’s simply delicious.

  41. RunningPathES says

    This is really delicious, and so beautiful! My daughter says it should be called “rainbow quinoa,” so that’s what we will call it in our house. It is fine on its own, but I really think it needed the crushed peanuts and extra hot sauce on top. The dressing was a bit too subdued without. That said, I will absolutely be making this recipe again — I like to have quinoa recipes that are good for our Saturday sabbath meals, and this is definitely being added to the rotation.

  42. Tammy Thiele says

    This looks like the perfect summer salad! And congratulations on your move…hope you are feeling settled soon!

  43. Victoria says

    Hi Dana,

    Just stumbled across your blog on Pinterest, and I was wanting to make the vegan chai ice cream (it looks amazing!). However I can’t seem to find the recipe, whenever I click on the link to go to the page an error message comes up. Is there any way you could put the recipe back up or fix the link? Thank you so much!

  44. Cassie says

    Congratulations on the move! So happy for the both of you! I can’t wait to see more recipes in your new beautiful space–this quinoa salad looks phenomenal!

  45. Jen says

    Amazing!!!! You did it again! My family loved this salad. I’m feeding my father who has a belly that needs to reduce:), so I omitted the sesame oil and put in sesame seeds and it was still delish!! You nailed it again!

  46. jan says

    Could you make your nutritional facts include Weight Watcher points?
    By the way do you know, maple syrup (fructose) can be substituted for with Rice Bran Syrup which is not fructose and has less calories. Many salad lovers would like to know this…

    • Avatar for Dana @ Minimalist BakerDana @ Minimalist Baker says

      Hi Jan at the moment that’s probably not something we’ll add, but I’ll keep that in mind for future recipes!

  47. Kathryn Ellin says

    Soooooo Good :-)
    I have made it three days in a row and as soon as I go shopping, I’ll make it again.

  48. Christine says

    I made this last night – SO delicious! The dressing was so easy, and I didn’t even really need to measure out all the ingredients. I cheated and bought pre-shredded cabbage from Trader Joe’s so it was even easier to assemble. And, I have leftovers for lunch. Next time I might add a bit of crispy baked tofu on top, but it’s totally not necessary. This will be a regular lunch for me :)

  49. Brian Robben says

    Too often I go with the classic Caesar salad. So next time, I’m trying your asian quinoa salad to see what I’ve been missing. I’m confident I won’t be disappointed.

  50. Patricia says

    I made this salad several hours before my husband got home, and it held up very well. Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

  51. Chelsey says

    Yum! This looks SO delish Dana :)
    It’s good to hear you’re settling into your new home. I hope you enjoy finding your way around the new kitchen and house and making new memories.
    I just moved to a new home about a month ago too and have been enjoying having an oven that actually works!

  52. Jackie says

    I had no idea what we’d be eating tonight, and probably would have just opened up a can of beans. But then I saw this recipe in my in-box! It’s perfect! I have all of the ingredients on hand. I didn’t know I was missing this recipe until you showed it to me!
    I’m a new blog follower, very excited to see your work:)

  53. Emily @ Robust Recipes says

    Yum! that dressing sounds incredible!

    Congrats on your new house. I understand the feeling settled feeling very well. We have been in our house for 2 years and I still don’t know where to put some things haha!

  54. Julia @ Sprinkles & Saturdays says

    Congrats on moving into your first home! That’s so exciting. This looks so delicious by the way. I love purple cabbage!

  55. Amy @ Pressure Cook Recipes says

    Hi Dana,

    Congrats in moving in your first home!!
    We just bought some Quinoa, perfect timing for this recipe!
    Love how easy it is to make this salad. Thanks :)

    Amy

  56. Masha | Cardio with Carrots says

    I am digging this salad! That is a huge amount of protein for a salad…wow! That dressing is very very tempting.

  57. Emilie @ Emilie Eats says

    I’m glad you’re getting settled in! I’m about to move into a different apartment and I’m excited for all the feels that accompany starting in a new place. Quick throw-together dinners like this are a lifesaver when there’s lotsa packing to do!

  58. Brittany says

    I love Asian salads like this! I make a similar one without quinoa and it’s so good. So much crunch.