Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad with Parsley and Mint
I love this gluten-free Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad with Parsley and Mint, and this tasty salad is also vegan, dairy-free, and low-glycemic.
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 with Parsley and Mint.
Authentic Tabbouleh has more parsley and mint than grain, so this Quinoa Tabbouley Salad that I adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine is more of a tabbouleh-like salad, 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!
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 it, remove salad from fridge and let it come to room temperature while you finely chop the mint. 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 Versions of Tabbouleh To Try:
Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad with Parsley and Mint
(Makes 4-6 servings, recipe adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine.)
3/4 cup 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 – 1/2 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 20-30 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. 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, remove from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature while you wash mint, spin dry or dry with paper towels, and finely chop to make 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped mint. (I love mint, but it’s a strong flavor so if you’re not sure how much you like it, I’d use the smaller amount.) 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.
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 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.) If you want a salad with less carbs, use less quinoa and more cucumbers and herbs, but this is probably not suitable for a strict low-carb diet plan.
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