I’ll take any excuse to go out and have a picnic. There’s something about eating out in the open air that reminds me of carefree summer days. I’m not too picky when it comes to packing food for a picnic. Sometimes Mike and I will just grab a couple of bags of chips and a blanket and stroll on over to our neighbourhood park and have ourselves a snack outside. Sometimes we’ll get a little more elaborate and actually bring out real cutlery and dishes, but more often that not, we’ll just wing it.
That being said, I do like planning out picnic menus. Actually, I just like planning out all kinds of menus. Quinoa salads tend to do well on picnics – they’re portable, they don’t need any assembly and they’re light, yet filling.
This quinoa salad is super easy: you basically throw all the ingredients together, toss and you’re good to go. It combines everything I love about Vietnamese food: fresh herbs and big flavours. You get the nuttiness of quinoa, the crunch of cucumbers and lettuce and the moreishness of fish sauce. If your looking for a bit more protein you could add some cubes of tofu or shredded chicken, but I like the simplicity of just the vegetables.
Vietnamese Quinoa Salad Recipe
serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- juice of 1 lime
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- sriracha, to taste
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1 1/4 cups water or vegetable stock
- 1 small cucumber, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and shredded (about 1 cup)
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
- 10-12 fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 cups shredded lettuce of choice
- salt and pepper
Lightly toast your rinsed, drained quinoa in a non-stick pot over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add the water or vegetable stock, bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the burner and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, transfer to a large bow, fluff and let cool.
While the quinoa is cooking/cooling, make the dressing. Mince the garlic clove as finely as possible. Alternatively, crush it with a motar and pestle. Whisk together the garlic, sugar, lime juice, water and fish sauce until the sugar dissolves. Taste and add sriracha if desired. Set aside in the fridge.
Once the quinoa is cool, add the cucumber, carrot, green onion, cilantro, mint leaves, and shredded lettuce. Add the dressing and toss well. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed. Enjoy!
NOTE: This recipe can easily be vegan-ized. Just switch out the fish sauce for a tablespoon of soy sauce.