Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa Tabbouleh

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Tabbouleh (also spelled tabouli) is a very nutritious and cooling Arabic side dish that is great in the spring and summer. It is typically served alongside other main dishes such as kibbeh or shish kabobs. With the exception of the quinoa in this dish, the tabbouleh recipe that I am sharing with you is an authentic recipe, straight from Lebanon. The original recipe is from my step-dad’s grandmother. The only modifications to it are the substitution of quinoa for the bulgur in order to make it gluten-free, slightly altering the amount of liquids used, and using curly parsley because that’s what I had on hand. In addition to the recipe for using quinoa, the instructions for using bulgur are written in the notes section of the recipe card.

What kind of parsley is used in tabbouleh?

Tabbouleh is traditionally made with Italian flat-leaf parsley. However, if you are unable to find it, you can also substitute curly parsley as I did here. When using curly parsley, you might have to adjust the amount of lemon juice and olive oil used.

Is tabbouleh served hot or cold?

Tabbouleh is served cold.

What is bulgur?

Bulgur is a processed form of cracked wheat, and comes in four different grades: 1 (fine), 2 (medium), 3 (coarse), and 4 (very coarse). Traditional tabbouleh uses the #1 grade. You can typically find it in middle eastern or greek stores.

How to make Quinoa Tabbouleh: Step-by-Step

Step 1. First, we need to cook the quinoa. To add some extra flavor, I like to toast the quinoa for this dish. To toast the quinoa, first, heat a saute pan over medium heat for a few minutes (3-5). Once the pan is hot, add the quinoa (do not wash beforehand!). Once they start to cook, you will hear the quinoa pop. When that happens, cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. When it’s done cooking, transfer to a sieve. Let the quinoa cool for a few minutes, before rinsing it under water. Turn the water on slowly, as the quinoa is VERY hot, and it will produce steam. Once the quinoa stops steaming, I like to use a mixing spoon to kind of slosh it around in the sieve under the running water. When you are done washing, return the quinoa to the saute pan and cook according to the package directions.

Dry quinoa in a pan.
Toasted quinoa in a pan.

Step 2. While the quinoa is cooking, we need to prepare the parsley. Now, how I do it is very time consuming and tedious. I remove each leaf individually by hand. Thinking there had to be a better way, I set off to Google and it turns out that you can use a fork! Click here to see how to remove flat-leaf Italian parsley with a fork. Note: I am not sure how well this would work for curly parsley because the leaf shape is different. You might have to remove the leaves by hand. All the more reason to use flat-leaf parsley. After removing all of the leaves from the stems, put the leaves in a salad spinner, rinse them under water to remove any dirt or debris, and then spin them down to dry them.

On the left is a bunch of curley parsley. On the right are curly parsley leaves in a salad spinner.

Step 3. Using a long knife (e.g., 8″ chef’s knife), roughly chop the parsley. Put chopped parsley in a large bowl and set aside.

Holding roughly chopped parsley in my hand to show the size.

Step 4. Next, we need to prepare the lemons, tomato, and scallions. Finely dice the roma tomato, and thinly slice the scallions using the green and white parts. Then, halve two lemons.

In the lower-left is a large bowl containing chopped parsley. In the upper right are halved lemons, a diced tomato, and chopped scallions all sitting on a cutting board. In the upper left is a tea towel.

Step 5. To the bowl with the parsley, add the cooked quinoa, diced tomato, sliced scallions, iodized salt, ground black pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. Toss to coat. You should have enough liquids so that there is a little bit in the bottom of the bowl. No one likes a dry tabbouleh! Always start with the least amount of lemon juice, olive oil, and iodized salt. Adjust to your taste. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Storing it in the refrigerator might dry it out a little bit, so add a little bit of lemon juice and olive oil before serving. Enjoy!

A close-up shot to show the texture of the quinoa tabbouleh.
The finished quinoa tabbouleh in a large glass bowl.
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Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa tabbouleh is the perfect summer side! Serve with kibbeh, shish kabobs, or any grilled meat.

Course Side
Cuisine Lebanese
Keyword Mediterranean, pack for lunch, quinoa recipes, salads, summer
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 238.7 kcal

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3 bunches of flat-leaf Italian parsley (OR curly parsley)
  • 1 roma tomato, finely diced
  • 4 scallion stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1/2-1 cup olive oil
  • juice of 2-2.5 lemons
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-1.5 tablespoons iodized salt

Instructions

  1. Heat a saute pan over medium heat for a few minutes (3-5). Once the pan is hot, add quinoa. Once the quinoa starts to pop, cook for an additional 3-4 minutes, or until they turn golden brown. When it's done cooking, transfer to a sieve. Let the quinoa cool for a few minutes, before rinsing it under water. Turn the water on slowly, as the quinoa is VERY hot, and it will produce steam. Once the quinoa stops steaming, use a mixing spoon to kind of slosh it around in the sieve under the running water. When you are done washing, return the quinoa to the saute pan and cook according to the package directions.

  2. Use a fork to remove parsley leaves from the stems. Click here to see how to remove flat-leaf Italian parsley with a fork. Note: I am not sure how well this would work for curly parsley because the leaf shape is different. You might have to remove the leaves by hand. After removing all of the leaves from the stems, put the leaves in a salad spinner, rinse them under water to remove any dirt or debris, and then spin them down to dry.

  3. Using a long knife (e.g., 8" chef's knife), roughly chop the parsley. Put chopped parsley in a large bowl and set aside.

  4. To the bowl with the parsley, add 2 cups cooked quinoa, diced tomato, sliced scallions, iodized salt, ground black pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice. Toss to coat. You should have enough liquids, so that there is a little bit in the bottom of the bowl. Always start with the least amount of lemon juice, olive oil and iodized salt. Adjust to your taste.

  5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Storing it in the refrigerator might dry it out a little bit, so add a little bit of lemon juice and olive oil before serving. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Replacing quinoa with bulgur: The bulgur used in traditional taboulleh is the #1 grade, or the fine grade. To prepare the bulgur, simply soak 2 cups of bulgur in 2 cups of hot water for 10-12 minutes, or until it softens. If the bulgur absorbs all of the water before the time is up, add a little bit more hot water. You want the bulgur to be covered with water for the entire soaking time. If there is any excess water, you can squeeze it out of the bulgur with your hands. Then add it into the salad like you would do with the quinoa, in step 4.

Nutrition Facts
Quinoa Tabbouleh
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 238.7 Calories from Fat 179
% Daily Value*
Fat 19.9g31%
Saturated Fat 2.8g18%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.3g
Monounsaturated Fat 13.6g
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 1204.8mg52%
Potassium 381.7mg11%
Carbohydrates 14.3g5%
Fiber 2.9g12%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 3.6g7%
Vitamin A 2160.7IU43%
Vitamin C 93.4mg113%
Calcium 66.4mg7%
Iron 3.4mg19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Nutritional information on The Panicked Foodie is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
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