Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
I love this Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad with fresh parsley, mint, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and this gluten-free Tabbouleh Salad is so tasty! And this salad is also vegan and fairly low in net carbs! If you want a salad with even fewer carbs, use less quinoa and more cucumbers and herbs
As soon as I discovered that I really do like quinoa, I started seeing interesting-looking quinoa recipes everywhere. I spotted a recipe for a quinoa-based variation of the Middle Eastern salad called Tabbouleh (tuhboo-lee), and since I love the simple Tabbouleh with Almonds that I make every summer when my garden has mint and parsley, I knew I’d enjoy this Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad just as much. And for those who want a gluten-free variation of Tabbouleh, this recipe is perfect.
Authentic Tabbouleh has more parsley and mint than grain, so this Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad that I adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine is more of a tabbouleh-like salad, and it was definitely very tasty. Normally I’m not a fan of tomatoes in tabbouleh, but they worked well in this recipe, and I was excited that I could use mint and parsley from the garden, even though the weather in Utah is still raining and I had to dash outside between cloudbursts to pick the herbs!
What is Tabbouleh?
Tabbouleh is a vegetarian salad that’s eaten all over the middle east. It’s also spelled tabouleh, tabbouli, tabouli, or taboulah in various places, but although the spelling may vary the ingredients of bulgar wheat, parsley, mint, lemon, and olive oil are consistently used in this type of salad, and authentic Tabbouleh has a lot more parsley than the Tabbouleh you see in the U.S. Some variations include things like chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumbers, and dried spices, and there are endless variations of this popular salad. Read more about Tabbouleh and the regional variations here.
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is a seed that’s cooked and eaten as a grain, and it’s a traditional food in Peru, Bolivia and Chile. In recent years it’s become popular as a healthy gluten-free ingredient that’s lower in carbs than rice or pasta and also high in protein and nutrients.
What ingredients do you need for this recipe?
- pinch of salt for quinoa cooking water
- cherry tomatoes
- chopped parsley
- chopped fresh mint
- extra-virgin olive oil (use an olive oil with good flavor)
- fresh squeezed lemon juice
- ground cumin (affiliate link)
- ground cinnamon (affiliate link)
How to this recipe:
(Scroll down for complete recipe with nutritional information.)
- Most types of quinoa have to be rinsed, but check the package to see if yours is the no-rinse type. I rinsed with cold water until no more foam appeared, then let it drain in this fine colander.
- Bring water to a boil, then add quinoa, turn heat to a low simmer and cook 12-15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Then cover the quinoa and let it sit 5 minutes. (Check your quinoa package for cooking directions because I’ve seen different instructions on the two brands of quinoa I’ve used. You can also cook quinoa in a rice cooker if you prefer.)
- I diced up the cherry tomatoes whole the quinoa was cooking, and let them drain in the same colander I used for the quinoa. You may not need to drain the tomatoes, but mine were pretty juicy.
- After the quinoa sits covered for 5 minutes, put it into the bowl you’re using for the salad and let it cool for 20-30 minutes, stirring a few times.
- While the quinoa cools, chop the cucumbers in pieces about 1/2 inch and finely chop the parsley. (I like curly parsley in a salad like this, but you can use either type.)
- Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, ground cumin, pinch of cinnamon, and salt.
- When the quinoa is cooled to room temperature, stir in the cucumber, drained tomatoes, and parsley, then add just enough dressing to moisten the salad. Cover the salad, refrigerate, and let flavors blend for 30 minutes or as long as a few hours if you’re making this ahead.
- Just before you want to serve the salad, finely chop the mint. (Mint will overpower the other flavors if you add it at the beginning.)
- Stir in finely chopped mint. Taste salad, then add the reserved dressing to taste (you may not need all the dressing.)
- Season with more salt if desired and serve.
More Tabbouleh To Try:
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups water
- pinch of salt for quinoa cooking water
- 1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes (let them drain in a colander if the tomatoes are juicy)
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley (I used curly parsley, but either kind will work)
- 1/2 cup chopped cucumber, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (peel the cucumber if it has a thick skin, or peel in strips like I did, and scrape out
- seeds if they are large)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (use an olive oil with good flavor)
- 3 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
- pinch ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
- Put quinoa into a fine-mesh strainer and rinse well with cold water until no more foam appears. (You can use a paper towel inside a regular strainer if you don’t have one that’s fine enough. Check the package to see if your quinoa needs to be rinsed.)
- Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan.
- Add pinch of salt, stir in quinoa, reduce heat to the barest simmer and cook 12-15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
- Cover the quinoa and let it sit for 5 minutes more. (Check quinoa package for cooking directions because the two different brands I’ve used had different directions, You can also cook quinoa in a rice cooker if you prefer.)
- While quinoa cooks, chop cherry tomatoes into small pieces.
- If the tomatoes are very juicy, let them drain in the same colander you used for the quinoa.
- After it sits for 5 minutes, put the cooked quinoa into the bowl you’re using for the salad and let it cool to room temperature for a few minutes.
- While quinoa cools, peel the cucumbers, scrape out seeds if they are large, then chop cucumbers into 1/2 inch pieces. (Unless your cucumbers have a very thick skin, it looks nice to peel them in strips like I did so there’s some green showing.)
- Wash the parsley, spin dry or dry with paper towels, then finely chop until you have 1/2 cup chopped parsley. Use more parsley if you prefer!
- Whisk together the olive oil, fresh lemon juice, ground cumin, pinch of cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. salt to make the dressing.
- When quinoa is cooled to room temperature, stir in the cucumber, drained tomatoes, and parsley, then add just enough dressing to moisten the salad, about 4-5 T of the prepared dressing (you will use some of the reserved dressing later.)
- Cover the salad, refrigerate, and let flavors blend for 30 minutes or as long as a few hours if you’re making this ahead.
- When you’re ready to serve the salad, wash mint, spin dry or dry with paper towels, and finely chop to make 1/4 cup chopped mint. (I love mint, but it’s a strong flavor so if you add it at the beginning it will overpower the other flavors.)
- Stir in chopped mint, then taste the salad and add more of the reserved dressing until the flavor tastes fresh (you may not need all the dressing.)
- Season with a little more salt if desired, and serve.
Recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 186Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 227mgCarbohydrates: 19gFiber: 3gSugar: 1gProtein: 4g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.
Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Quinoa is high in protein and relatively low-glycemic, but it’s limited to phase 2 or 3 for the original South Beach Diet. (I was confused about this for a long time, since quinoa is a seed rather than a grain, but the latest book, The South Beach Diet Supercharged, clearly lists quinoa as phase 2.) This was lower in carbs than traditional Tabbouleh, but if you want a salad with even fewer carbs, use less quinoa and more cucumbers and herbs.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Salad Recipes for more recipes like this one. Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.
Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This recipe was first posted in 2010, when I had loads of fresh mint and parsley in my garden. The recipe was last updated in 2021.