Thursday, June 10, 2010

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is one of those foods I associate with summer.  I’ve always loved the texture and the fresh taste, and it was completely delicious eaten straight from the fridge on a hot mid-west day.  Now, I have to admit that I’d never actually made tabbouleh from scratch until after I became gluten-free.  It contains strange, mysterious grains, what looks to be a lot of herbs, and a name that spell-check doesn’t recognize, so I’ve always stuck to the boxed version.  Until now.

Cous-cous, a “grain” made from semolina flour, is the traditional starch base for tabbouleh but that just won’t do for us GF types.  Quinoa, on the other hand, is gluten-free, a good source of magnesium, B-vitamins, fiber, and one of the highest protein grains you will find.  And it’s just the right size.  You can find it in all sorts of colors, and you’ll notice from the pictures that I used a mixture of red and yellow quinoa.  I tend to think the colored quinoa makes a more beautiful tabbouleh.

The other major ingredients in tabbouleh (lemon juice, parsley, tomatoes, scallions and mint) are chock full of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants.  Olive oil has some nice, heart-healthy fats and lots of vitamin E.  Together, they all combine to make a filling, cancer-fighting side dish or snack to be enjoyed at any time of day.

Don’t take my word for it, make it yourself!

As a side note, you may have noticed something strange about my mint.  It’s got a smoother leaf and a darker look, and that’s because it’s chocolate mint.  No, no, it doesn’t actually taste like chocolate, but the smell is delicious.  And it just so happens to be the type of mint I have in my garden, so when it comes to making tabbouleh, chocolate mint is what I get.  You can use whatever type is in your garden, at your farmers market, or in the grocery store, and your tabbouleh should turn out just fine.

Quinoa Tabbouleh

These measurements are estimates, so pay attention to how you want the dish to look and taste.  Feel free to add cucumber or a bit more spice!

1 ½ cups quinoa, rinsed
3 cups water
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups minced parsley
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
6 scallions, white and light green parts, chopped
3 Tbsp minced fresh mint leaves
Salt to taste

1.       1Rinse the quinoa and place in a medium saucepan with the water.  Bring to a boil, cover, and turn down the heat to    simmer for ~15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Chill until completely cold.
2.       2Either by hand or in a food processor, chop the parsley, mint and scallions.
3.        3In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, olive oil, cayenne pepper and salt.  Adjust seasonings to taste.
4.      4Mix together quinoa, tomatoes, mint, parsley, scallions and dressing and chill. 
5.       5 Serve with beef, chicken, or fish, or as part of a cold picnic.



  1. I think I may make this to bring to a picnic. It's a great idea, especially since there are more people who have difficulty with gluten.

  2. Fabulous! Let me know how it turns out!

  3. The traditional tabbouleh I have had has been made with bulgar (cracked wheat) - which is still not the best choice for me. So, I'm excited to try a version with quinoa. One thing I do like about the traditional version (Well - Lebanese version at least vs American) is that they use a lot less grain and a lot more parsley. The last time I went to a Lebanese party, I had to look closely to find the bulgar. :)

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