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Rainbow Salad With a Spicy Peanut Dressing (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

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Melanie is an avid vegan homemaker who has been enjoying cooking and experimenting in the kitchen for over 15 years.

This rainbow salad with spicy peanut dressing is vegan and gluten-free

This rainbow salad with spicy peanut dressing is vegan and gluten-free

Taste the Rainbow

As a teenager, my sister used to get quite the array of magazine subscriptions in the mail. I enjoyed reading them from time to time because I could usually find some cooking inspiration, especially in her fitness magazines. I'm pretty sure it was Shape Magazine that gave me the inspiration for this recipe, but I'm not 100 percent positive because it's been almost 14 years since then.

Not that they may want the credit anyhow, because the reason I was inspired to adapt the recipe was that the dressing was beyond terrible. I'm pretty sure it was just sesame oil with barely any ginger, and some kind of vinegar—just awful. But I really did like the idea of the salad, so I took it and ran. My new and improved version of contains three varieties of bell pepper, not just one, as well as the addition of edamame and scallion.

The sous chef at my job told me that he "would pay for something like this," which was probably one of the best compliments that I could have received, and I couldn't have been more flattered. And of course, my bestie inhaled it when I made it for her and couldn't stop gushing over how delicious it was, which made my heart sing.

I just can't get enough of this salad—literally. It is so refreshing, it has so much flavor, and the colors are so vibrant you can't help but feel like you're indulging all of your senses at once.

This salad has such a wide variety of nutrients in it, which makes it all the better to eat. There's plenty of protein from the tofu and edamame, and oodles of vitamins C, A, B-6, and magnesium from the other vegetables.

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So if you're looking for a filling, and nutrient-dense dish to help you along on a weight-loss journey, a new vegan lifestyle, or perhaps just a venture of eating healthier foods, this should be your new go-to. Give it a shot and let me know what you think!


For the salad:

  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 orange bell pepper, julienned
  • 4 cups red cabbage, finely shredded
  • 4 carrots, shredded
  • 12 ounces frozen edamame, thawed and drained
  • Chopped cilantro (optional garnish)
  • Bean sprouts (optional garnish)
  • Sesame seeds (optional garnish)
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups distilled water

For the dressing:

  • 3 teaspoons ginger garlic paste
  • 3 teaspoons sriracha
  • 3 teaspoons sambal olek (chili garlic paste)
  • 3 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons distilled water
  • 6 tablespoons creamy peanut butter, organic and unsweetened

For the tofu:

  • 1 (16-ounce) package organic high-protein tofu, drained (I like the Wildwood brand)
  • 4 tablespoons shoyu (soy sauce)
  • 3 tablespoons sesame oil (or a neutral oil like avocado or grapeseed)


  1. Slice the tofu in half and cut each half into four slices. Lay the tofu slices out flat either on a plate or in a bag, then add the shoyu sauce. Let them marinate while you prepare the remaining ingredients, and flip the tofu pieces after about 12 minutes. You can also marinate them overnight if you wish.
  2. Rinse the quinoa and bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add the quinoa and give it a stir. Return to the boil, then lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes, or until all the water has absorbed and the quinoa is light and fluffy. Place aside and allow it to cool down to room temperature.
  3. Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place in the refrigerator while prepping salad to allow the flavors to blend.
  4. Prepare all of the vegetables according to description and toss them together in a bowl.
  5. At this point the tofu should be well-marinated. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Once the oil is hot and shimmering, lay the slices of tofu in the pan and allow them to fry for 5 minutes. Flip the tofu slices over and cook for another 5 minutes or until golden and crispy on both sides.
  6. Remove the tofu from the pan and drain them for a minute on some paper toweling to remove some of the oil. Either slice the tofu into strips or cube them up; whatever your heart desires.
  7. To serve, plate up about 1/2 cup of quinoa, top with a heaping 2 cups worth of the salad, add your desired amount of tofu, and drizzle on 1/4 cup of the dressing. Garnish with chopped cilantro, fresh bean sprouts, and a good sprinkling of sesame seeds. Enjoy!

© 2020 Melanie

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