Recipe: Tabbouleh Salad With Quinoa

When the temperatures climb as summer progresses, the last thing anyone really wants to do is be near fiery ovens and stoves doing energy-consuming acts. 

This is a recipe which not only is quick and easy but it can be prepared beforehand and in large batches. Make a big batch and use as a light meal, as sides for dinner or just to have as a light snack in between meals. 

For those a little unfamiliar, tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad traditionally made with chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, bulgur (similar to cracked wheat), garlic and salt. For this recipe, you're swapping out the bulgur (which is a perfectly fine and great source of whole wheat) with quinoa which has been attracting attention and raves for all its powerhouse and supposedly unparalleled nutritional value. On top of the vitamins, fiber and other goods this salad contains, the high protein content from the quinoa makes it a really all encompassing dish. 

I can't say I know if all the radical claims about this quinoa are true but one humorous thing I'd like to note is that it's actually pronounced "qwin-wah" in two syllables and not "qwi-no-a" as I had thought all this time. Honestly, I don't think anyone would ever logically think to pronounce it "qwin-wah" with how it's spelled but I found out the hard way after being laughed at by my friends in the States....

Anyways, get your nutrition in, your belly filled all without having to sweat away in the kitchen!

Tabbouleh With Quinoa (Vegetarian and Vegan)
Serves 4

You'll need:
- 1 cup of quinoa
- 2-3 tbsp of olive oil
- 1/4 cup of lemon juice
- 1 bunch of parsley (about 1 cup chopped)
- 1 large cucumber diced
- 2-3 medium sized tomatoes diced
- 1 tsp of minced garlic 
- 1/2 tsp of sea salt
- 1/2 cup of mint leaves (optional) 

1. Cook and prepare the quinoa according to the instructions on the package. In case there isn't one you basically want to wash and drain your quinoa, add it to a saucepan with 2 cups of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Give it a stir, cover and simmer on low for 15 minutes before turning it off and letting it cool before fluffing.

Cooked quinoa ready to go

2. Wash your cucumbers and tomatoes and dice them. Wash the parsley (and mint if you choose to add them), removing any wilted or yellow bits before finely chopping. 

Hint: Removing the seeds from the cucumbers and tomatoes before dicing will prevent making the salad soggy. For the parsley, I prefer to remove the long stems before chopping but some seem to like it, stems and all.

Chopped veggies and parsley underneath

3. In a large bowl, add the cooled quinoa, the diced veggies, and the chopped parsley. Combine it with the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic and sea salt. Taste and adjust seasoning to your preference.

Letting sit and chill a bit really draws the flavors out

I would definitely up the parsley input next time than the tabbouleh pictured above as real tabbouleh is much more greener than this. But I know for some individuals less used to the cuisine and flavors, parsley can come off rather strong so you may want to taste and adjust the parsley level depending on you and your party's taste.

I recommend letting it chill a bit in the fridge beforehand for the flavors to really marinate and combine. It tastes better chilled and as leftovers the next few days in my opinion! Make a big batch and you are golden for a good few days! 

It's also a vegetarian and vegan-friendly dish but it still has flavor and important nutrients such as protein so both your meat and veg-loving friends can be appeased.