My quinoa tabbouleh is a bright, healthy, gluten-free twist on traditional Lebanese tabbouleh, and a terrific accompaniment to grilled kebabs or seafood. Dressed simply with lemon, garlic, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper, this quinoa tabbouleh recipe is prepared with an abundance of herbs such as fresh parsley and mint, as well as diced Persian cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and green onions for refreshing flavor!
Tabbouleh With a Twist
Middle Eastern cuisine is a favorite of mine and my hubby's. And here in Los Angeles, we happen to have quite a number of fantastic places to enjoy freshly grilled kebabs, rice pilaf, and a number of light, bright, and refreshing salads and sides.
Two accompaniments that are an absolute must for us whenever go out to enjoy kebab platters are hummus and tabbouleh (also known as tabouli). The former a creamy, chickpea dip, and the latter a bright, tangy salad consisting primarily of finely minced herbs such as parsley and mint, plus other finely diced veggies.
Classic tabbouleh is traditionally prepared with a small amount of cracked bulgar wheat sprinkled throughout to offer a bit of body to the herbs and minced cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions in this salad.
But for this tabbouleh with-a-twist, I'm opting for quinoa, a healthy whole grain (actually a seed) which very closely resembles cracked wheat in both texture and look.
And since there's no gluten in quinoa, it makes this tabbouleh recipe completely gluten-free—a nice bonus!
So if you're as big of a fan of kebabs and other Middle Eastern-style recipes as we are, or are simply looking for a simple and vibrant salad or side dish to serve with grilled fish or other meats, this quinoa tabbouleh is sure to become a new, healthy favorite.
My Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe
When it comes to preparing quinoa tabbouleh, the only cooking, per se, is preparing the quinoa to add into all of the other fresh ingredients.
I like to keep the amount of quinoa relatively small, sprinkling in just enough to add some texture to this salad without taking away from the herbs and diced veggies, which are the stars when making any kind of tabbouleh.
Because tabbouleh can keep for a couple of days, I typically prepare a nice size bowl of it to have on hand to serve as a side, or even as a refreshing alternative to a green salad.
So I go quite heavy on the fresh parsley (and a little less on the mint) when preparing this recipe, and add in a generous amount of Persian cucumber, sweet cherry tomatoes and green onions.
Once all the ingredients are added to a large bowl, I drizzle in my easy lemony dressing, some sea salt, and mix everything together!
Here's a glance at my quinoa tabbouleh recipe: (or just jump to the full recipe...)
- To get started, I cook my quinoa just until tender, then allow it to cool to room temperature.
- While my quinoa cooks and cools, I mince all of my herbs by hand until very fine, and add that to a large bowl.
- Next, I finely dice some Persian cucumbers, dice up some small, cherry tomatoes, and mince some green onion, and add those to my herbs.
- To prep my dressing, I simply whisk together (or shake up in a covered jar or container) some fresh lemon juice and zest, garlic, olive oil, plus sea salt and pepper.
- Once the quinoa is cool/room temp, I sprinkle that into the tabbouleh mixture, and toss lightly to combine.
- If serving immediately, I drizzle in some of my dressing; if serving later, I cover my quinoa tabbouleh and keep it cold in the fridge, then toss with dressing just before serving.
by Ingrid Beer
This quinoa tabbouleh is bright, refreshing, and gluten-free, brimming with fresh parsley, mint, cucumbers, tomatoes and green onion!
Yield: Serves 6
Nutrition Info: 157 calories (per 1 cup serving)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
- ½ cup quinoa (white or multi-colored)
- ⅔ cup water
- Sea salt
- 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- Black pepper
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 bunches curly parsley, thicker bottom stems removed, and finely chopped (about 3 ½ cups worth)
- ¾ ounce package mint (leaves only), finely chopped (about ⅓ cup worth)
- 3 green onions, sliced and finely chopped (about ½ cup worth)
- 1 cup finely diced Persian cucumbers
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, finely diced
- Begin by gathering a prepping all of your ingredients according to the ingredient list above to have ready and organized for use.
- Prepare your quinoa by rinsing it very well in a fine mesh sieve under cold, running water.
- Next, add the ⅔ cup of water, plus a good pinch of salt, to a small non-stick pot or sauce pan, and bring it to the boil. Once boiling, stir in the rinsed quinoa, cover, and reduce the heat to low so that the quinoa gently simmers until cooked, about 20 minutes.
- While the quinoa cooks, prepare your lemon dressing: to a small jar with lid, or a small bowl, add the clove of garlic, the lemon zest and juice, a couple of good pinches of sea salt and black pepper, plus the olive oil, and shake the jar vigorously until the dressing is well blended, or use a whisk if using a bowl. Set aside in the fridge until ready to dress your quinoa tabbouleh.
- Once the quinoa is cooked, use your fork to fluff it up a bit, then allow it to cool completely to room temp (you can even use your fridge to expedite the cooling process).
- To assemble you quinoa tabbouleh, add the finely chopped parsley, mint, green onion, Persian cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and cooled quinoa to a large bowl. Pour the lemon dressing into the tabbouleh, and using a large spoon, gently toss the ingredients to combine them with the lemon dressing, and add another pinch of salt and pepper, if needed.
- Serve immediately, and keep any leftovers in a covered bowl in the fridge.
Tips & Tidbits for my Quinoa Tabbouleh recipe:
- Mince the herbs by hand: While it does take a bit more work to chop and mince the herbs by hand for tabbouleh, it makes a big difference in the texture of this salad. A food processor tends to “mush” up the herbs a bit too much, which you don't want—you want light, loose and fluffy herbs. So if possible, and for best results, grab a nice sharp knife and mince by hand.
- Cherry tomatoes or other ripe tomatoes: I love to use small cherry tomatoes for tabbouleh, as I can simply quarter them or cut them into a small dice, and add them into the mix. Plus, they have lots of sweet, juicy flavor. However, feel free to use any ripe tomato you'd like. If using a larger tomato, then finely chop or dice it.
- Dress tabbouleh before serving: If you're making this quinoa tabbouleh ahead of time, then add all of the ingredients minus the dressing to a bowl, cover, and keep cold in the fridge. Then, when ready to serve, combine the tabbouleh with the dressing for freshest flavor and texture.
- Plain quinoa, or your favorite heirloom variety: I'm using organic white quinoa here, but feel free to use red, black, or a multi-color blend if you prefer. Any quinoa will work well here.