Asian Black Quinoa Salad

5 Oct

Cooking feeds my soul.  When I’m in the kitchen, I get into a groove where my body seems to hum.  Whether I cook with wine like Julia Child or just whip up something quick, something wonderful happens to me. I’m not sure if it’s the knowledge that I’m going to feed people good food or just the act of cooking; it vivifies me.

Sometimes, when I get home tired and hungry from a long day, my immediate thought is “takeout.”  Before I jump on this, I have to remind myself how much better cooking is for my body and mind. Quick and easy meals are a necessity for days like this, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.  It’s too easy to compromise health for a quick fix.  This dish took under 30 minutes and is filling enough for a main dish.  Not too bad. (Who am I kidding though – I love a good take out Asian meal…)

Although I’m trying out this gluten-free thing, I’m a huge fan of grains.  Quinoa, although technically a seed, feels pretty grain like and already has a steady place in our meal rotation. Obviously it will play a crucial role over the next few months and I hope to get more creative with its uses.  For now a salad is the perfect way to showcase this “grain” and the key is the punchy flavor.  This dressing is flavorful and low-calorie – hubby believes in putting fish sauce in everything and calls it “restaurant sauce.”  Although it creeps me out a bit, I do agree that it makes things taste pretty good.



1 cup black quinoa, rinsed (any quinoa will do, but I thought the black was pretty)
small head of kale, de-stemmed and chopped into small pieces
1 mango, cut into small pieces
1 avocado, cut into small pieces
2 Thai chiles, cut into small pieces
4 green onions, green and light green portions chopped
1/3 cup cilantro, cut
juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp fish sauce  or to taste (optional)
1 Tbsp soy sauce (or 2 if you omit fish sauce)
2 tsp sriracha or to taste
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp agave
roasted unsalted peanuts


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Boil 3 cups of water.  Add quinoa and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes, until seeds break apart and the white strands show. Drain, and return to pot.  Cover with clean cloth and return lid. Let sit for 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork.

Meanwhile, toss the kale with a small amount of olive oil and bake for 10-20 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes, until crispy.

Mix lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce sriracha, vinegar, and agave.

Toss quinoa with dressing.  Add kale, mango, avocado, cilantro, and green onions.

Serve with roasted peanuts. Enjoy!


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