Colourful Quinoa and Vegetable Salad with Aromatic Carrot Dressing (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

That carrot dressing. You know what I’m talking about, at least if you live in/around a somewhat large city in North America. The chunky, refreshing dressing is common atop green salads at Japanese-inspired restaurants and is a welcome change from rich cream dressings.

Here I have applied one variation of carrot salad dressing to a quinoa salad to yield a quick, meatless dinner and/or an energizing lunch for the work/school day. The ‘complete’ essential amino acid profiles of the quinoa and edamame plus the vitamins and minerals of the fresh vegetables (some technically fruits) make this filling salad an eye-catching and balanced meal.

Note: You can halve the amount of quinoa in this recipe to make it lighter. The amount of quinoa I used here makes this more of a hearty quinoa bowl than a side salad.


Colourful Quinoa and Vegetable Salad with Aromatic Carrot Dressing (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Adapted from Kalyn’s Kitchen and Saveur

Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4-6

For the salad:

  • 2 cups water, vegetable broth, or kelp stock
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
  • 1/4 of a red onion, diced
  • 1 red, orange, or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 300 g (1 clamshell) grape tomatoes, cut into halves
  • a small handful of cilantro, parsley, or mitsuba, chopped up

For the carrot & ginger dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
    (Use a gluten-free version if you need to.)
  • 1/2 tsp agave syrup or sugar
  • 1 tsp ginger, grated
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into chunks
    (I used 10 ‘baby’ carrots)
  • 1/4 of a red or yellow onion, cut into chunks
  • a small pinch red chili pepper powder, e.g. ichimi
  • some water, as needed


For the salad:

  1. In a pot, bring the water/broth/stock to a boil.
  1. Rinse your quinoa! Put it in a mesh sieve and wash it under running water.
  1. Add the quinoa to the pot of boiling liquid. Stir, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Once all the liquid is absorbed, fluff up the quinoa with a fork to reduce sticking.

fluffy cooked quinoa
I fluffed it up pretty fiercely.

  1. Cook the edamame according to the package directions. For example, boil them for a few minutes on the stovetop then drain, or zap in the microwave with a bit of water.
  1. Optional: to eliminate some of the bite of the red onion for both the salad and dressing, soak the cut-up onion in iced water for 10+ minutes. Drain before assembling salad.


For the carrot & ginger dressing:

  1. Place all dressing ingredients in a food processor. Blend until you get a dressing with a thick texture (thicker than a smoothie). Add a bit of water if needed.

food processor to make carrot dressing
No after shot; I’m sorry.  I seriously need a better camera.


For assembly:

  1. In a large bowl, mix the quinoa, red onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, edamame, and your choice of herb together.

edamame, bell pepper, tomato, onion, parsley for quinoa salad
Pre-quinoa.  Hey it’s like the Google Chrome logo but not really.

  1. Fold in a little bit of the dressing until all ingredients are covered with a little bit of the dressing, just to coat them.
  1. Serve the salad topped with a spoonful or so of additional dressing. Enjoy warm, at room temperature or chilled.



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