Quinoa Tabouli Recipe

Since I am going gluten free this month, I’ve been working on using different types of grains instead of my usual suspects – bulgur and barley.  Quinoa is an awesome alternative, especially for vegetarians since it is so high in protein!  Last night I was craving Mediterranean food, so I decided to make tabouli – yum.  Rather than use bulgur, which is the standard grain used for tabouli, I substituted quinoa and it turned out delicious!  Recipe – just for you…

Quinoa Tabouli

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Ingredients: (makes about 4 cups)

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, diced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

To Prepare:  Start by rinsing the quinoa.  This is a VERY important step, as it removes the bitterness from the outer shells (we will talk about this more in an upcoming “Great Grains” post!).

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I use a small fine mesh basket strainer that I’ve had forever.  If you’re into quinoa, you need to get one of these.  Probably runs about $10, and I promise it is worth the investment.  Also very handy for rinsing canned beans!

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Start by sautéing the 3 cloves of minced garlic until browning in a tiny bit of olive oil.  Then add quinoa and stir well over medium heat for about 1 minute.

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Add 2 cups of water, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes – or until all moisture is absorbed. 

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While the quinoa cooks, you can prep your vegetables!

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I found these beaaaaaaaaautiful heirloom tomatoes at Trader Joe’s, so I decided to substitute a handful of these for one large tomato.

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If you use a regular cucumber, cut it into quarters and remove the seeds before dicing.  English cucumbers are much less seedy, so they can be cut as is…

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I used my handy tomato knife to slice up the big tomato, and then diced from there.  This tomato was just okay – I can’t wait for summer when tomatoes are finally ripe and delicious again!

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Add all the veggies to a mixing bowl – so colorful and fun!

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Now I know olives aren’t a classic tabouli ingredient, but I thought they would compliment the flavor well (and they are still very much Mediterranean).

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Dice up the olives and add them to the mix…

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Now that veg prep is done, you can make your dressing.  Just a simple mixture of lemon juice, salt, pepper, and olive oil whisked together in a small bowl.

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By the time all that prep work is done, your quinoa should be ready!  Uncover and fluff to see if all the moisture has cooked out.

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The best way to tell when quinoa is cooked is to look for the little “tails” sprouting out of the grains.  Can you see them?

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Add quinoa to the bowl of veggies…

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And then top with the lemon juice dressing…

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Stir to create a beautiful and colorful grain salad – YUM!  I went ahead and put this in the refrigerator to cool, but it is honestly good cold or warm.  I love versatile grains that can be eaten either way.

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In classic tabouli, parsley is also a major component, but I didn’t have any and wasn’t feeling motivated to run to the store for one herb.  I really didn’t think it was needed though, or would have many any difference – this salad was PACKED with flavor!

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In recipe posts, I always like to show our full plates so that you can get ideas for how to pair foods together.  That has been one of the areas I have worked on the most in school – learning how to pair complimenting flavors and side dishes.  We ate our tabouli with a protein side of simple sautéed tofu

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And we roasted the rest of the veggies that were leftover from Thursday night’s dinner party.  I am SO excited to finally be eating fresh vegetables again!

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Going gluten free has forced me to think outside of the box a bit, which has been a challenge that I have enjoyed.  Classic tabouli is delicious, but this quinoa tabouli with olives is a little bit more creative and exciting, and food should always been exciting!

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Enjoy!  :)