Summer’s Not Here Yet Tabouleh Salad

The weather here in the Northeast the past two days has been almost summer-like (ok, maybe very-late-spring-like).  I wanted to make something light and healthy for lunch other than a standard salad.  Luckily, I had most of the ingredients for tabouleh…or tabouli, or tabboule, or tabbouleh.

Tabouleh is a Middle Eastern salad that is traditionally made with bulgur, tomato, cucumber, and herbs.  Traditionally, it was served as part of a mezze (a selection of small dishes) served in the Mediterranean and Middle East.  There are different variations of it in Turkey and Armenia, and it has become a very popular ethnic food in the US.

Instead of bulgur, I used quinoa, which bumps up the protein a bit, but feel free to use either.  I have made this in the past also with couscous.  The one important thing, however, is to make sure you let the tabouleh sit for a few hours, or overnight, in the fridge so that the flavors can marry together.

I bet the addition of fresh basil leaves would be a nice touch to this salad also.  Perhaps next time.

Tabouleh

Probably serves about 6 people

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1 tomato, or 20 grape tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp dried mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of one fresh lemon or lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place quinoa and water in a pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until all of the water has been absorbed by the quinoa, about 15 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely.

Slice cucumber lengthwise and scoop out seeds with a spoon.  Cut the cucumber and tomato into pieces about the size of a kernel of corn and place into a large bowl.  Chop onion and garlic.  Add to bowl along with the parsley and mint.

Once the quinoa has completely cooled, add to the bowl, along with the olive oil and the juice of the lemon or lime. Stir until all the ingredients are combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  You can serve immediately, but it will be better if you cover with plastic and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Advertisements

The Quinoa Project

.

I don’t know how or why I have stayed away from this grain.  I recently tried quinoa and I’m in love!  I have so many ideas as to how to begin incorporating it into everyday dishes.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is considered to be a “superfood.”  Nutritionally, it’s a very complete food.  It is:

  • Very high in protein
  • Full of vitamins
  • Gluten- and wheat-free
  • Cholesterol-free
  • Delicious

Quinoa comes from a plant native to the Andes Mountains in South America and has been around for thousands of years.  It contains more protein than any other grain and should be considered for vegetarians or vegans who might be concerned about the level of protein in their diets.

What does it look like?  It’s a tiny round grain with a band around it that ends with a tiny “tail.”  As it cooks, the tail unwinds and detaches itself, leaving a white ring on the grain.

There are several different varieties of quinoa and it is available in grain, flour, and flakes. Once relegated to health food stores, you can find it just about anywhere now.

Substitute quinoa in any dish calling for rice, couscous, or even pasta.  It can also be used in soups, salads, baking, and even in sweets.

One method of cooking quinoa is to treat it as you would rice.  Use two cups liquid (water, chicken/vegetable broth) to one cup of quinoa, bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Add herbs and seasoning as desired in order to make a variety of dishes.

I’ve made a few very simple savory dishes using quinoa.  At some point, though, I will also try some more complex ones, as well as a sweet dish/dessert and will post the results.  Hence the name of this article. 🙂

The other night, I made for dinner quinoa with roasted chicken, tomatoes, onions, parsley, and chives.   Totally healthy…and delish.

Quinoa with roasted chicken, tomatoes, olives, onions, parsley, and chives

Last night, I made some chicken, and as a side I made the dish below.  It serves 4 as a main dish, or you can halve the recipe as I did, and it will serve 4 as a nice side dish.

Stuffed Peppers with Olives and Tomatoes

(Serves 4 as a main dish)

  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 peppers (green, red, yellow, or orange)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tomatoes, squeezed of pulp and chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 10 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Water
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Place the quinoa in a saucepan with the water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes until all of the water is absorbed.

Cut the peppers in half, lengthwise.  Remove seeds and membranes.

In a bowl, mix together the cooked quinoa, onion, garlic, tomatoes, parsley, cilantro, olives, salt and pepper.  Spoon the mixture evenly into the peppers and place in a baking dish.  Pour about 1/2 inch of water on the bottom of the baking dish.  Drizzle olive oil over the peppers.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the quinoa stuffing is golden brown and the peppers are soft.

Stuffed Peppers with Olives and Tomatoes