I have always enjoyed the fresh flavors of traditional tabbouleh: fragrant herbs, tart lemon juice, crunchy cucumbers, sweet tomatoes, and a a little heat from fresh garlic. However, I decided to turn this classic dish on its head and increase the nutritional profile by swapping the traditional Bulgur wheat for everyone’s favorite ancient supergrain, Quinoa (KEEN-wa). Quinoa Tabbouleh has all the flavors you love but the power of a complete protein.
What do I mean by “complete protein“? There are nine essential amino acids necessary for human and animal life that must be obtained from food, and quinoa contains adequate amounts of all of them. Other plant sources of protein such as legumes, whole grains, and nuts are lacking in certain amino acids, so you must eat something else during the day to complete those sources of protein. Popular combinations to make complete proteins include rice and beans, corn and wheat, and grains with dairy.
In addition to quinoa,these plant-based foods are also contain all nine amino acids: buckwheat, hempseed, blue green algae, and soybeans.
What else do you need to know if you want to cook quinoa?
Quinoa has a natural bitter coating called saponin that must be removed before cooking. You can either buy pre-rinsed quinoa, such as Bob’s Red Mill,or follow these steps to rinse quinoa yourself.
1. Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the quinoa.
2. Rub the quinoa between your hands to remove the saponin.
3. Drain the quinoa through a fine-mesh strainer and rinse until the water runs clear.
4. Air dry the quinoa completely or use it immediately for cooking.
Looking for a less exotic quinoa recipe to get started? Try my Quinoa with Mixed Vegetables.
- 2 c. water
- 1 c. pre-rinsed quinoa, such as Bob's Red Mill
- 1 c. cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered lengthwise
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
- 4 scallions, sliced (white and green parts)
- 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
- 4 T. chopped fresh mint
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ c. fresh lemon juice (from 2 large lemons)
- ½ c. olive oil
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Bring water to a boil in a 2 qt. sauce pan. Add quinoa and return to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat for 12 minutes or until all water has been absorbed.
- Remove from heat, fluff, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes longer. Remove from heat and cool quinoa completely.
- Add tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, parsley, mint, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Stir until combined.
- Cover and chill at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
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