This classic Middle Eastern salad gets a turbo charge of Quinoa, making it a highly nutritious dish containing all the essential amino acids your body needs to thrive. Quinoa tabbouleh is full of lovely textures and loads of super fresh vibrant flavors. Great as a main meal or a side dish to complement almost any meal.
About this recipe
This quinoa tabbouleh is 100% gluten-free, vegan, quick and easy to make recipe. You can make a big batch and keep it in the fridge for a couple of days. If your in the gym or training a lot, this recipe will give you a good protein and energy boost.
It's an all round nutritionally balance dish, that once you make it I'm sure you'll come back to time and time again.
History of tabbouleh
Tabbouleh is a traditional Levantine salad, made mostly of chopped parsley with the addition of tomato, mint, onion and bulgur wheat with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. It's traditionally served as part of a mezze in Arab cultures.
The tabbouleh salad originated in the mountains of Lebanon and Syria and was an essential part of people’s diets throughout the Middle Ages. Variants throughout the Levant region include the Turkish Kisir and Armenian Eech
Today, tabbouleh is an indivisible part of Lebanese identity. It’s in every household and on the table at every feast.
This quinoa tabbouleh recipe is:
- 100% Gluten free
- A complete protein - containing all essential amino acid
- Fresh and healthy
- Full of flavor
- Easy to make
- Cost effective
Lets talk about quinoa
Quinoa is an ancient food. It originated with the Incas in the mountains of Bolivia, Chile and Peru. It’s been at the forefront in these regions for the last 5,000 years, It was a staple for the Inca civilisation and is still a prominent food source for their indigenous descendants, the Quechua and Aymara people.
Quinoa was a sacred crop to the Incas who called it the mother of all grains. Legend has it that the Incan emperor would ceremoniously plant the first quinoa seeds every year.
The majority of Quinoa production in the Andean region is done by small farmers and co-operatives. It's cultivation has now spread to more than 70 countries around the world. As a result of increased demand worldwide, quinoa crop prices sky rocketed over the last 15 years. This price increase has caused some food security issues in South America, pushing the local prices up.
Nutritional content of quinoa
Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain sufficient amounts of all nine essential amino acids.
It's also high in fiber, essential minerals and contains many antioxidants.
Ingredients you will need for quinoa tabbouleh
Quinoa is the grain (well actually it's technically a seed!) of choice for this classic tabbouleh variation due to it been a complete protein with all the essential amino acids our body need and it's also naturally gluten-free.
Parsley is the star of the show here. This is the signature flavor of tabbouleh, you cannot add to much parsley to a tabbouleh! Wash, drain and finely chop the parsley. Be careful with your fingers! Alternatively, you can add all the herbs to a magi mix blender for a handy shortcut!
Mint is freshly chopped and provides a lovely fresh aroma.
Red onion is finely diced and brings a nice fresh flavor to this recipe. Make sure to cut the onion extra fine and rinse in water to soften their raw pungency. Some people do not like a raw onion flavor, I personally enjoy it.
Green beans are not traditionally used, but I love the texture and flavor they bring to this recipe.
Tomato is marinated with the cucumber. You can use any type of tomato. If they are big tomatoes it's best to peel and deseed. Cherry tomatoes can simply be cut in half.
Cucumber is diced and lightly salted to extract excess water and provide a nice crunchy bite.
Sunflower seeds are a source of many vitamins and minerals that can support your immune system and increase your ability to fight off viruses.
For the vinaigrette
Olive oil is mixed with crushed garlic, lime juice, salt and cracked black pepper.
Garlic: I add some crushed garlic to the vinaigrette for an extra punch. The marination of garlic with the lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper provide a delicious depth of flavor.
Lime brings acidity and vitamin C to the dish. Lemon will work just as well if you prefer instead. I know lemon is used traditionally, but here in Thailand where I am now, lemons do not grow here. Limes however are in abundance!
Salt: I use pint salt in this recipe. You can use any good quality sea salt.
Black pepper: freshly ground pepper provides a nice finish kick that cuts through the fresh herbs so nicely.
How to make the best quinoa tabbouleh
1) Salt your tomato and cucumber, and drain off the excess juice.
Tomato and cucumber release a lot of moisture when exposed to salt, and will make your tabbouleh way too watery if you do not drain it off.
Simply combine the tomato and cucumber in a bowl with some salt and set it aside while you chop the parsley. Drain off the excess juice before you mix the salad together.
- Cut the tomato and cucumber into small dice
- Add to a bowl with a few pinches of salt
2) Use lots of fresh herbs and chop them finely.
This recipe calls for a lot of parsley, and the easiest way to chop that much parsley is in your food processor. You can do it by hand, but it will take a while (and careful with your finger tips!)
- Finely chop parsley and mint.
3) Finely chop red onions and green beans
I like to add very finely chopped red onion, you can wash the raw onions after chopping to remove some of the bitterness. Add some finely sliced cooked green beans for some extra texture and color.
4) Cook and chill the quinoa
How to cook quinoa?
I get asked this so many times and my short answer is to treat it like rice. There are a few important steps to follow to have a well cooked batch of quinoa.
- Wash quinoa before cooking
- Strain the quinoa
- Add 1 part quinoa to 3 part water and a pinch of sea salt to a saucepan
- Cook out on a gentle simmer for about 15 minutes
- The quinoa is cooked when it starts to split open
- Pour quinoa into a strainer to drain excess cooking liquid
- Rinse again with some boiling water from the kettle to wash some of the starch
- Allow the quinoa to cool while in the strainer.
- Let sit in the strainer to allow all the excess water to run out.
- Allow to cool, then transfer to a container, you can store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
5) Make the quinoa tabbouleh vinaigrette
Tabbouleh should be zingy and full of flavor, you’ll need to use enough olive oil, garlic, lime or lemon, salt and pepper to get there.
- Crush the garlic
- Add the olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper
- Mix well
6) Mix the quinoa tabbouleh
Here is the fun part! Add all the prepared ingredients to a mixing bowl. Season with the vinaigrette - mix well and taste.
Adjust the seasoning with more vinaigrette until the quinoa tabbouleh starts to sing with fresh flavor!
Quinoa tabbouleh tutorial
Here is the step-by-step recipe tutorial for making quinoa tabbouleh
What to serve tabbouleh with?
This recipe will go with almost anything! It will brighten up any dinner table. Sometimes I grill a piece of tofu or tempeh and put on top, you may also add some broccoli, asparagus or sweet potato for some extra sustenance.
You can also try it with some of the following recipes:
Beetroot tabbouleh is a lovely variation. Add some cooked and diced beetroot to the tabbouleh for an incredible vibrant salad.
Meal prep ideas
Quinoa tabbouleh is fantastic for meal prep menus. Make a big recipe and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. This recipe will work as a lovely side dish to almost anything, or stand alone as a substantial meal in it's self.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. If you make it, let me know how you get on and please share any variations in the comments section below. Remember to tag me on #holisticchefacademy.
Happy cooking my friends!
- Weighing scales
- Chopping board
- Chefs knife
- Mixing bowl
- Serving bowl
- 100 g Quinoa 300g cooked weight
- 50 g Red onion finely chopped
- 50 g Green beans blanch and finely slice
- 150 g Tomato - cherry cut in ¼
- 100 g Cucumber cut into small dice
- 50 g Parsley finely chopped
- 30 g Mint finely chopped
- 40 g Sunflower seeds toasted
For the vinaigrette
- 50 ml Olive oil
- 1 each Lime
- 2 each Garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon Pink salt
- .5 teaspoon Black pepper - ground
To prepare the tabbouleh
- Assemble and wash all ingredients.
- Cut the tomato and cucumber into small dice, add a pinch of salt and leave for 10 minutes to marinade.
- Wash and finely chop the parsley and mint.
- Blanch and refresh the green beans - cut into small rounds.
- Finely chop the red onion.
- Drain the tomato and cucumber by setting it on a strainer to release excess liquid.
Cook the quinoa
- Wash quinoa and strain.
- Add the quinoa to saucepan with some salt and cook out on a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.
- When cooked - transfer to strainer to drain, pour over some boiling water to rinse the starch.
- Allow to cool.
For the vinaigrette
- Crush the garlic cloves.
- Add the olive oil, lime juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper to bowl - Mix and set aside.
To finish tabbouleh
- Add all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl.
- Season with the vinaigrette - mix well and check seasoning.
- Add more vinaigrette, salt or pepper if needs be.
- Serve quinoa tabbouleh in a bowl, garnish with some sunflower seeds and fresh parsley.
3 days tops. It will start to lose it's freshness and vibrancy. Fresh is best!
Quinoa has a natural coating of saponins, a chemical compound that can be found in many different plant families (including some legumes). These saponins may exist to protect the plant against microbes and fungi as well as foraging animals, as their bitter taste deters other organisms from feeding off the plant. However, this bitter taste can also evident to humans – and some people are very sensitive to the flavor saponins impart.
Bulgur wheat, Buckwheat, Millet, Couscous or even barley will all work well in a tabbouleh