Introducing the Quinoa Tabbouleh, a gluten-free take on the beloved Middle Eastern classic. This recipe masterfully blends the wholesome goodness of quinoa with the fresh, vibrant flavors of traditional Tabbouleh, offering a feast for both the palate and the eyes.
This recipe is part of my summer repertoire, and it goes on rotation with other recipes, like Lentils Corn And Pepper Salad, Mango Salsa, Pico de Gallo, or Tomato Cucumber Salad, just to mention a few.
What is Tabbouleh
Tabbouleh, a well-liked green dish, originates from the Middle East. Sometimes spelled tabouli or tabbouli, it’s a staple in Lebanese, Syria, Greek, or Palestine cuisine.
This vibrant dish principally features finely chopped parsley, accentuated with fresh mint, tomatoes, scallions, and a tangy hint of lemon juice.
Moreover, conventional tabbouleh integrates bulgur wheat grains, which play a key role in its unique texture, and it doesn't have cucumber.
But what if you need a version of Tabbouleh that doesn't contain gluten? You can replace the bulgur wheat grains with quinoa.
A fresh take on an old classic tabbouleh, this recipe is an easy, simple, and healthy salad that requires some beautiful ingredients.
Quinoa is gluten free, which means that this salad is suitable for everyone.
It is also a great choice for vegans and vegetarians because it's high in protein, not to mention that it is dairy-free too.
Packed with good stuff like magnesium, iron, and fiber, quinoa is used in many different dishes, both sweet and savory. You can even swap it in for rice or couscous in your favorite recipes.
How to cook quinoa
If you use uncooked quinoa, for each cup of uncooked seeds, use 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the pot. Simmer for 15 minutes until the quinoa absorbs the water. Remove from the stove and let rest for 5 minutes. For this salad, allow it to cool, then use it.
Ingredients in quinoa tabbouleh
- Cooked Quinoa: A nutritious grain that is gluten-free, high in protein and fiber, and versatile in many dishes. It's the base of this salad, giving it a hearty feel. Use cooked but cold quinoa.
- Parsley: This is the star of any tabbouleh. It adds a bright and earthy flavor to the dish and is a good source of vitamins. Italian parsley is better than curly parsley, as it has a more robust flavor and it holds up well when mixed with the other ingredients.
- Spring onions: Also known as scallions or green onions, they add a mild, crisp onion flavor to the salad, providing a bit of a bite without being too overpowering. You can also use red onion or regular.
- Tomatoes: They add a juicy sweetness to the salad, balancing out the herby and zesty flavors. They are also rich in antioxidants and vitamins. Use cherry tomatoes for their sweetness, but any tasty tomatoes will work.
- Dried mint or fresh mint: This aromatic herb adds a refreshing note to the salad, contrasting beautifully with the other ingredients. Mint also aids in digestion.
- Green or red pepper: These peppers add a bit of crunch to the salad. They have a sweet, slightly spicy flavor that works well with the other ingredients.
- Salt: An essential seasoning that enhances all the flavors in the dish.
- Ground black pepper: Adds a subtle heat and depth of flavor to the salad.
- Allspice: A warm spice that gives a little hint of clove, nutmeg, and cinnamon flavors to the salad.
- Cinnamon: Adds a sweet, woody flavor that complements the other spices.
- Ground cumin (optional): Cumin adds a smoky, earthy flavor to the salad. It's optional but recommended for an extra depth of flavor.
- Lemon juice: Adds brightness and acidity to the salad, bringing out the flavors of the other ingredients. Lemon juice is also high in vitamin C.
- Olive oil: The olive oil helps to bind the flavors together and adds a certain richness to the dish.
How to make quinoa tabbouleh
Step 1. Gather the ingredients: cooked quinoa, green onions, pepper, tomatoes, parsley, mint, spices, olive oil, and lemon.
Step 2. Dice and chop the fresh vegetables.
Place the quinoa into a salad bowl and start dicing the peppers. They should be really small. If you ever had the real tabbouleh, you know what I am talking about.
Dice also the green onions. Chop the parsley and tomatoes.
Add mint, spices, salt, and pepper.
Stir to combine.
Add lemon juice and olive oil and season again for salt and pepper. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
It looks refreshing, colorful, and beautiful, don't you think?! And it is absolutely delicious!
How to store
Transfer the salad to an airtight container. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
It's important to remember that the freshness of the herbs is best enjoyed soon after preparation, although the flavors will continue to meld as the salad sits.
If it gets a little bit dry (as the quinoa tends to absorb the moisture in the salad), add some lemon juice to the bowl. You should revive it right away.
Avoid freezing the salad, as the texture of the fresh vegetables and herbs can change unfavorably when thawed.
While traditional Tabbouleh uses bulgur wheat, and this version uses quinoa, you can experiment with other grains. Couscous or farro could work, but keep in mind that these are not gluten-free options.
Yes, you can make this salad with a few hours before serving it. Store it in an airtight container in the fridge, but remember that the freshness of the herbs is best enjoyed soon after preparation.
This salad is versatile and pairs well with many dishes. It can be served alongside grilled meat or fish, wrapped in a pita for a light lunch, or as part of a mezze platter with hummus, olives, and stuffed grape leaves.
Fresh basil or cilantro could be good alternatives. They each have a unique flavor profile, so the taste will be slightly different, but they can still contribute a refreshing note to the salad.
However, if you're not a fan of strong herb flavors, you could simply increase the amount of parsley and leave out the mint altogether.
While quinoa itself is a good source of protein, you could add more protein by incorporating ingredients like chickpeas (ever heard of quinoa tabbouleh with chickpeas salad?), grilled chicken, or tofu, depending on your dietary preferences.
More salad recipes to love
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Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe (Gluten Free)
- 8 ounces cooked quinoa
- 1 large bunch parsley chopped
- 1 bunch spring onions chopped
- 3-4 medium tomatoes chopped
- 1-2 tablespoons dried mint Or a few leaves of chopped fresh mint
- 1 small green or red pepper chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin optional
- juice of 1-2 lemons or to your taste
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Cook the quinoa first. Allow it to cool down, then place it in a salad bowl.
- Clean and chop parsley, green onions, tomatoes, pepper and place everything over the quinoa.
- Add the spices, salt and pepper.
- Add the lemon juice and mix again. Serve chilled.
- It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.