Red Quinoa Tabbouleh

To my mind, tabbouleh (or tabouli or tabbouli) is the salad to end all salads as it ticks off all of my flavour boxes and is basically a meal in a bowl.

My first introduction to tabbouleh was an instant version that I found as a young mum at our beloved, neighbourhood bulk food store back when they had a location in east city, where I lived at the time. The mix was basically a bunch of dehydrated vegetables and seasonings that you added to hot bulgur with a little water and oil and let stand in the refrigerator until chilled. It wasn’t bad, but I knew it’s origins must have come from something not dehydrated so I went searching (this was in the dark days before google) and, lo! I discovered that it is a SALAD MADE OF PARSLEY. My wee, parsley-lovin’ heart (dudes, parsley IS a vegetable in my world – I love it so much) was all a-flutter as I put my first real tabbouleh together and it was love at first bite.

The sprogs loved it, too.  We basically lived on the stuff in the summer. There was a bowl of it in the fridge almost always so I often served it to them in or on toasted pitas maybe with a little cheese or hummus, a side of veg sticks and called that breakfast or lunch. Toss some BBQ’d chicken beside it and that’s supper. That we had giant mint and parsley patches in the garden and grew our own tomatoes meant that any of those meals was no more than $4 for the three of us.

A few years later, the quinoa craze kicked in, so I tried making tabbouleh with that. White quinoa was ok and I certainly appreciated its protein kick, but it was the discovery of red quinoa that won me over. Its nutty flavour contrasts so nicely with the greens and lemon and makes the salad really, really pretty and it’s so much easier to get not-bitter than bulgur is.

Because I hate making salads, my recipe is stupid-simple and makes a LOT. I’ve omitted the oft-used mint and garlic because more chopping + flavour accessibility – those can always be added in addition to the following ingredients, should one fancy adding them.

I highly recommend making tabbouleh a few hours before you intend to eat it as it gives all of the flavours a chance to marry, but it’s quite good right off the hop, too.

Try it. You’ll like it.

What you need:

  • 1 cup dried, red quinoa
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 large bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 5 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

What you do:

  1. Cook your quinoa (I use the 1 cup quinoa, 2 cups water, pinch of salt, boil, lid, reduce to lowest heat for 20 minutes and done method).
  2. Chill your quinoa.
  3. Toss everything together in a large bowl.
  4. Taste test and adjust salt and pepper accordingly.
  5. Mange!

Again, you can always fancy it up a bit with mint and garlic. A bit of cumin and/or nutmeg go nicely in it, too. As do olives…and feta.

I’ve also switched out the tomatoes for things like mandarin oranges and/or mangoes and/or pineapple, veering pretty far out of proper tabbouleh territory, but into the land of delicious.


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