Summer is finally arriving here on the west coast (apologies to Easterners!) and the tomatoes are now showing color. I’ve been busy with cooking demos at farmers’ markets and one of my most popular dishes is tabbouleh made with quinoa. It’s a crowd pleaser and great to make in advance for backyard parties…
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is an ancient gluten-free grain which originated in South America. The Aztecs and Incas used to call it a sacred food, often referring to it as the ‘mother seed.’ Quinoa is super high in protein and iron, and has more calcium than milk! (Pitchford, 2002.) It is light, fluffy and super easy to cook. It’s widely available (even Trader Joe’s carries it) and is an excellent substitute for rice in half the time. Before quinoa is cooked, it must be rinsed to remove the resin that coats the seed and imparts a bitter taste. And to maximize digestive and nutritional benefits, its a good idea to pre-soak it a few hours before preparation.
Quinoa Tabbouleh – Serves 4-6
Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad usually made with bulgur (cracked wheat.) The quinoa makes it a little lighter with the same exotic flavors.
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 pinch sea salt
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
¼ cup lemon juice
3 tomatoes, diced (or, as in picture, use small cherry toms)
1 cucumber, diced
½ bunch green onions, diced
2 carrots, grated
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ cup fresh mint, chopped, plus 2 sprigs for garnish
½ cup feta, crumbled
Fresh salad greens
1. In a saucepan bring water to a boil. Add quinoa and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature; fluff with a fork.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine olive oil, sea salt, lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, carrots, parsley, mint and feta. Stir in cooled quinoa. Serve on a bed of fresh greens. Garnish with mint.
Photos featured by Napa Valley photographer Carol Troy. For more information, you can find Carol on Facebook.