I have been reading Vegetarian Times for years and I appreciate that they are keeping up with what modern readers want to eat. This recipe for Toasted Quinoa Tabbouleh is a perfect example.
Why do I love this recipe? On one hand, it’s a totally traditional rendering of Middle Eastern tabbouleh. The flavors and ingredients are all there. But on the other hand, instead of bulgur wheat, VT Executive Chef Ann Gentry reimagines this recipe using protein-packed quinoa instead. Which makes it gluten-free. It’s also vegan.
Finally, my family enjoyed it, and this is a recipe I would serve to omnivores without a second thought. This would be great as a side dish year-round (but it’s especially nice on a hot day) or as part of a meal of mezes, which is how I served it this weekend.
Quinoa is one of those ingredients I always feel I should be using more but shy away from because I’m not sure exactly what to do with it. The few times I’ve ventured into quinoa territory I’ve gotten bad textural results. This recipe takes the brilliant step of TOASTING the quinoa first before cooking. It’s an easy step but one that makes a big difference in achieving a bulgur-like texture.
I started with quinoa which I rinsed using a sieve. The box says “no rinsing required!” but when Ann Gentry tells me to rinse, I rinse. I used a sieve because the grains were too small for a colander.
I pan toasted the quinoa for ten minutes. It got nice and aromatic. Toward the end a few of the grains popped and I wonder, if I’d continued, if I’d have ended up with some type of quinoa popcorn. Another project for another day, I guess.
After pan toasting, you put the quinoa in boiling water. Bring it back to a boil then simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. At 20 minutes on the nose mine was good to go. Fluff it with a fork and let it cool.
Meanwhile, prepare a simple and traditional dressing. I remembered to use my Temecula Olive Oil Company olive oil. This recipe uses lots of lemons.
It’s also a very garlicky recipe. I might use a little less next time.
When the quinoa cools, toss it with diced tomatoes, scallions, diced Persian cucumbers (which I’ve blogged about before when I made Israeli salad, and are definitely worth seeking out for this recipe), a lot of chopped parsley, and chopped fresh mint.
Serve room temperature or chilled. This is the type of recipe that tends to get better as it sits and the flavors meld so I’m glad I made enough for lunchtime leftovers.