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This summer I have had the great privilege, twice, of spending time with groups of people who habitually spend their summers together. Although on opposite sides of the globe, there were some commonalities: lazy afternoons on the beach, friends, family, laughter, and shared meals. The first, in a little beach town in the south of Sweden, was a seemingly endless rotation of casual dinner parties. The second, at my family home in BC, was night after night of ocean-front potlucks.

I brought this salad, the idea of it, with me to the Pacific. I had it first in Falsterbo, made by a woman named Tintan who is one of the loveliest people I’ve ever met. She had had a carrot salad at another dinner earlier in the week, and thought to add quinoa to it when she made it herself. I loved it; the crunch and flavour of a carrot salad with a protein boost and some grainyness from the quinoa. If you’re not keen on the texture of quinoa, I encourage you to give this salad a go. The carrots are the star, and the quinoa is support crew.

One year ago: Crispy Skillet Tofu
Two years ago: Wheatberry Salad With Eggplant

Carrot Quinoa Salad Recipe:

This salad is highlighted with the fresh flavours of cilantro and lime, and nuttiness from toasted sesame seeds. It’s a great side dish or potluck item, or a standalone meal. I’d be inclined to top it with a poached egg in that case.

Inspired by Tintan


1 cup uncooked quinoa
4-6 large carrots (two of the carrots I used were huge, and two were large)
1 bunch cilantro
1-2 limes
1/4 cup sesame seeds
olive or sesame oil
salt and pepper


Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh sieve, and then set in a medium pot with 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of sea salt. Cover the pot and bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 10 minutes – quinoa should be fluffy, not crunchy or mushy. Set aside to cool.

In a dry skillet, toast sesame seeds over medium heat until you are just able to smell their nutty fragrance. Be careful not to burn them. Remove them from the skillet into a small bowl, and set aside to cool.

Peel carrots, then shred them using a box grater or a food processor. Wash, then roughly chop the cilantro.

In a large bowl, combine shredded carrots, cilantro, cooled quinoa, and cooled sesame seeds (reserve a couple of Tbsp for a garnish if you like). Toss in the juice of one lime, a small glug of olive or sesame oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Taste and decide whether you want to use the other lime (I did). Give everything a good toss, then sprinkle with reserved sesame seeds. Best served with friends and family.

Carrots are an excellent source of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, as well as vitamin C, and dietary fiber. Quinoa not only has a very high protein content (about 18%), but it also contains a complete set of essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It’s a great source of dietary fiber, phosphorous, and is high in magnesium and iron. Sesame seeds, like flax, are a good source of cholesterol lowering lignans (they are second to flax in lignan content, but don’t even come close to comparing to the amount that flax has). Sesame seeds are also a source of manganese, copper, calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc and dietary fiber. Cilantro is a good source of vitamin C and dietary fiber. It is known to bind to heavy metals such as mercury and help the body rid of them. Cilantro also stimulates digestion, and aids our digestive system in the production of digestive enzymes.

Do ahead: This salad can sit at room temperature for a few hours, or in the fridge for a few days. The quinoa will absorb the lime juice as it sits, so you may want to freshen it up before serving if you’ve made it well in advance.

All text and photos © The Muffin Myth 2012