Monday, May 20, 2013

Thai-Style Quinoa Salad

Lunch is the single most difficult meal for me to prepare and eat during any given day. Around lunchtime, Emma typically has one of her fussy periods and Matthew is super demanding because he is hungry, tired, and cranky. You can normally find me bouncing a wailing Emma on one hip while trying to spread peanut butter as quickly as I can onto a slice of bread for Matthew while he sits at the table telling me over and over and over again: "I'm hungry Mommy! Soooo hungry!" And nine times out of 10 that stupid slice of bread will begin to rip apart from my vigorous attempts to spread the peanut butter evenly resulting in the most mangled sandwich ever. Matthew normally sends me a look of confusion when I place the sandwich in front of him and I don't blame him. It literally looks like I picked something out of the garbage can and threw it on a plate for him to eat.

Yes, lunchtime is difficult. And if I want to eat anything semi-nutritious, it had better be prepared and readily accessible to grab from the fridge. I normally end up eating lunch straight from the plastic Tupperware dish (again, while either bouncing or feeding the baby). I normally try to make a large batch of some type of healthful dish at the beginning of the week that I can eat for lunch for several days afterwards. I love quinoa salads for this reason (I know, I know...I wax poetic about quinoa A LOT!). They keep well, are very healthy and filling, and are pretty limitless when it comes to the different combinations of fruits, vegetables, and vinaigrette.

This Thai-Style Quinoa Salad has been my favorite lunch staple for a while now. The sauce is composed of items that I already have in my fridge or in the cupboard. The salad is packed full of healthy vegetables and protein-filled quinoa to keep my energy levels up. I've been really obsessed with Thai food for the past several months and the Thai flavors in this vinaigrette really help satisfy that craving! I don't really stick to any particular type of vegetables when making this salad - I tend to just throw in whatever I have on hand from the Farmer's market (except for edamame - I aways toss a bunch of it in because I LOVE it!!). Occasionally, I'll even throw in a frozen medley of Asian vegetables. That option not only tastes great, but is also super economical! If you have some leftover chicken from dinner, throw that in as well! The possibilities are endless

Thai-Style Quinoa Salad
adapted from How Sweet Eats

Note: Use whatever combination of veggies/meat you want! The listed ingredients are simply suggestions!

For the Salad:
1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
2 cups cooked chicken or shrimp
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup snow peas
1/2 green beans
1/2 cup shelled edamame
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts (optional)
1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Sauce:
4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons canned coconut milk
1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 lime juiced, about 2 tablespoons
Pinch of ground ginger

Prepare quinoa according to package directions using chicken broth. The ratio is normally 1 1/2 cups of liquid for every 1 cup quinoa.

While quinoa is cooking, combine all of the sauce ingredients together in a liquid measure and whisk to combine. When the quinoa finishes cooking, scoop it into a large bowl. Stir in the sauce and mix well. Stir in the carrots, edamame, red pepper, green onions, green beans, snow peas and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled.

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