Asian Quinoa Salad

Fluffy quinoa mixed with veggies and tossed with a slightly spicy asian dressing. It's a perfect salad for week day lunches!


Asian Quinoa Salad

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I’ve been on sort of a never-ending quest to find the perfect lunch salad.  It’s tricky business because you want something that had plenty of filling ingredients so you can make it through the afternoon.  Ideally, it would also keep really well so you can take it for an entire week.

Oh.  It also needs to taste really, really good so you don’t get bored with it.

You can see a lot of my previous lunch salad attempts in the Macheesmo salads category.  I try a bunch out that I don’t always post as well.  I try to only post the really outstanding ones.

Which would easily include this one.

In fact, this one might have been my favorite to-date.  The funny part is that it was inspired largely on a pre-made salad that Betsy grabbed at a local grocery store one day when I completely failed at making a lunch salad.  It was so good that she asked me to try to re-do it.  I added a bunch more veggies and stuff to it, but the idea is basically the same.

Asian Quinoa Salad

Serves 4-6
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Fluffy quinoa mixed with veggies and tossed with a slightly spicy asian dressing. It’s a perfect salad for week day lunches!


1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, cooked according to package
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 scallions, minced
4-5 radishes, sliced thin
1/3 Cup soy sauce (dressing)
1 Tablespoon mirin rice wine vinegar (dressing)
1 Teaspoon spicy sesame oil (optional for dressing)
Chopped peanuts
Chopped fresh basil
Toasted sesame seeds


1) Cook quinoa according to package.

2) Chop veggies finely and stir in with cooked quinoa.

3) Drizzle in dressing a bit at a time.  Taste and adjust with more dressing if necessary.  You might not need all of it.

4) Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan for a few minutes on medium heat until the seeds are lightly browned and fragrant.

5) Stir in peanuts, seeds, and basil.

Making the Quinoa

Quinoa sounds all fancy (and can sometimes come with a fancy price tag), but it’s surprisingly easy to make.  You should read the instructions on the package since there are a few different varieties of quinoa.  In general though, rinse the quinoa with cold water and then get some water simmering in a large pot.  Usually you want a 2-to-1 ratio, water-to-quinoa.

Once the water is simmering pour in the rinsed quinoa, cover it, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  Then kill the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.  Then lightly fluff it up and you’ll have a really delicious quinoa!


Prepping Other Ingredients

The list of veggies you could toss in this salad is pretty endless.  I’d recommending using whatever you have in your fridge that might go well in it.  For me this included some cucumber, red pepper, onions, and shredded carrots.  I also picked up some really beautiful radishes at the market on this given week and I figured they would give the salad a nice crunch also.

One thing I wouldn’t add to this salad is any kind of cheese like feta.  Sometimes I like adding cheeses to salads like this, but in this case I think it would be too much.

Colorful stuff!

As far as prepping the veggies go, just try to get them sliced up pretty finely.  You don’t want any huge chunks of any one thing.  For the cucumber, I would remove the seeds, but you can leave on the skin if you want.

These were my radishes after a quick dice.

Go pretty thin on everything.

Once everything is in the bowl with the quinoa it’s a really pretty mix.

veggies mixed
Hard to get healthier than this!

The Dressing

I kept the dressing pretty simple for this salad.  You could fancy it up a bit with some fresh ginger and/or garlic, but I this was a quick and easy dressing that definitely go the job done.

You can definitely leave out the sesame chili oil or sub it with normal sesame oil, but I do think it’s a really nice touch.

other ing
Peanut are optional… only if you’re allergic.

Just mix up the soy sauce, mirin and sesame oil and drizzle it over the salad.  Depending on your tastes you might not need all the dressing so I would add about half of it and then adjust the flavor.

It’s pretty hard to remove soy sauce from a salad like this so start slow.

Add a bit at a time.

Once you add some dressing, stir it all together and then taste it.  Just adjust it to your tastes at that point!

The Bonus Items

There’s a few bonus items that I think kick this salad up a notch.  I added a few handfuls of chopped peanuts, a big handful of fresh basil which I just diced up and a few Tablespoons of sesame seeds.

Sesame seeds can be a tiny bit bland straight out of the box, but if you toast them for a few minutes in a dry pan, they become lightly browned and really fragrant.

So I recommend toasting them.

sesame toasted
Love the smell of these guys.

You could add the garnishes to the top if you want, but I just stirred everything together.

This is supposed to be a low maintenance dish after all.

done deal
Lunch every day!

Honestly, this is about as healthy as a salad can get in my opinion.  It’s got tons of veggies and flavor to get you going.  If you wanted to add even more protein to it you could add some chicken or tofu, but I didn’t even think it needed it.

It’s a great change from the standard deli bar salad or whatever.

7 Responses to “Asian Quinoa Salad” Leave a comment

  1. Have you ever tried toasting the quinoa before you cook it? I've never done it myself, but I've heard it really brings out the nuttiness of it. I mention it b/c you added nuts to it (like if you didnt have any or didnt want to use em, you could try toasting up the quinoa).

    1. I haven't but that's a really cool idea. I'll give it a shot the next time I make some quinoa… which will be today!

  2. I made this last night and boy was it yummy. Good call on the soy sauce as I found 1/3 cup would have been too much.

  3. I'm out of quinoa but I just made a similar salad with whole wheat pasta and chicken for lunches for work. I agree that lunch has to be exciting so that I still want to eat it on the third or fourth day.
    My recent post Crumbs Cupcakes

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