Quinoa Part 2: Tabouli Salad
Try this gluten-free tabouli recipe using quinoa.
Continuing our exploration of this protein-filled superfood, I offer my favorite quinoa salad recipe, as promised last time. Tabouli (AKA “tabbouleh”) is a traditional Mediterranean dish made of fresh vegetables and a grain, typically wheat bulgar. But this gluten-free recipe uses quinoa instead. It is seasoned with parsley and mint, and tastes fresh, crisp, and light. Tabouli makes a delicious side dish or main entrée. It is a great filler for wraps as well—just add it to a whole wheat tortilla (or a gluten-free alternative).
Fresh ingredients are paramount in this recipe. The only items that should come from a can or jar are the garbanzos and dried mint. Several ingredients are optional—my trademark inclusion is the garbanzo beans which I like for the texture. Other flavorful additions include feta cheese (in which case the garlic salt is not needed), Greek olives, or—for those who like a hint of sweet—try dried cranberries.
Feel free to adjust the proportions as you
see fit: some folks like the grain to dominate, others prefer lots of veggies,
and, the more parsley you add, the more Mediterranean it will taste.
1 ½ cups dry quinoa: Rinse several times to remove the bitter coating. (The
best-tasting quinoa comes from the bulk section, not a box).
1-2 bullion cubes: (Optional) Break into small pieces.
1 large cucumber: Remove skin and seeds if desired, and dice into small pieces.
1-2 cups diced tomato: 2-3 Roma tomatoes works nicely.
1 bundle green onions: Slice as thinly as possible.
½ bunch fresh parsley: Finely chopped (use up to a full bunch, to taste).
1-5 cloves fresh garlic: (To taste) Pressed or pureed.
1 can garbanzo beans: (Optional) Drained.
¼ plus cup olive oil
¼ plus cup lemon juice: One large juiced lemon is just about right.
1 teaspoon dried mint: (To taste), pulverized. (Peppermint is best but spearmint works, too).
1 shake garlic salt: (Optional, to taste).
- After rinsing the quinoa, cook it just as you would cook rice. Water-to-grain ratio is 2-to-1. I use a rice steamer, which makes it very easy, but traditional stovetop boiling works fine. I toss in a couple of bullion cubes for extra flavor (break them up into small pieces first). After cooking, refrigerate to cool.
- Prepare the solid ingredients, mixing them together as you go (keep the quinoa separate until the other solids are combined). I believe the key to great flavor in this dish is slicing the green onions paper thin.
- Chop the parsley as small as you can get it without too much work. Fresh garlic cloves are an important ingredient in this recipe, and the one that varies most to individual taste; if you’re not sure how much to use, start with 1-2 cloves and move up from there as desired. The garlic flavor will intensify as it steeps in with the other ingredients, so add it sparingly.
- Mix the vegetable combination together with the cooled quinoa. Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over the mixture. I usually squeeze the lemon right over the bowl, but that often results in a wild goose chase for seeds which become camouflaged in the salad. Stir it all together. If extra moisture is needed, add olive oil and lemon juice in small (equal) amounts, mixing as you go.
- Last but not least, sprinkle in the dried mint. You can use a mortar and pestle to pulverize; I grind the dried leaves between my (dry) fingers as I dust over the bowl. Stir in the mint and refrigerate. The flavors will mature over time so you might want to wait 15 minutes or more before deciding on additions (garlic especially).
I usually shake on some garlic salt during the mixing process (or directly onto the serving).
Makes about 8 cups of finished salad.
Serve alone, as a side dish, or make it into wraps.
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