I’ve recently been on a quest to incorporate more grains into my diet. There are many interesting varieties available and several of them have significant health benefits. The June issue of Bon Appétit magazine had an article featuring salad recipes based on grains. I’ll be making all of them at some point but the Quinoa Tabbouleh seemed perfect as a side dish for a barbeque I hosted this past weekend.
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is not actually a grain but a seed, but I’m not going to split hairs if you don’t! It has a lot of protein and fiber and is also a good source of iron. It’s also very quick to make. You can find packages of it in the grocery store, generally with the dried beans and rice or in the bulk foods section.
Tabbouleh is a refreshing Middle-Eastern salad that is usually made with bulgur. Traditional versions (I’ve heard…) generally use bulgur as more of a garnish than a primary ingredient. Most recipes you’ll find, though, use bulgur as the main ingredient enhanced with vegetables and herbs. This recipe follows that practice, substituting quinoa for the bulgur.
I followed the recipe pretty much as was in the article. I needed a large amount so I doubled most of the ingredients but used the single recipe amount of parsley and mint, as a couple of my guests are not crazy about flat-leaf parsley and I wanted to keep the mint to parsley ratio the same. I also used more lemon juice in the dressing. Other than that, this is one of those recipes that can easily be customized based on your preferences. I’ve added a few other notes in italics in the recipe.
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well – the quinoa I purchased and that you generally find in grocery stores will just need a light rinsing
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice – make sure to use fresh lemon juice as this is what makes the salad super refreshing and fresh tasting
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large English hothouse cucumber or 2 Persian cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch pieces – I used regular “garden” cucumbers but seeded them before slicing
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved – I used grape tomatoes and cut them into quarters
- 2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley – also called Italian parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
Bring quinoa, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.
Spread out quinoa on a large rimmed baking sheet; let cool. Transfer to a large bowl; mix in 1/4 cup dressing. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover remaining dressing and quinoa separately; chill.
Add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs, and scallions to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle remaining dressing over. – add a little at a time as you may not need all of it. Store extra dressing in the refrigerator and use with other salads.