Quinoa Tabouli

Ok!  Here’s another of my all-time most-valuable recipes, again from my days with the Back Room Deli at the Good Food Store in Rochester, MN.  This time, a quinoa riff on a classic middle eastern dish.  You say, “tabouleh;” I say, “tabouli”…

Here’s what ya need:


2 cups dry quinoa
3 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 olive oil
2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley (about one bunch of parsley)
1/2 a medium or large red onion, minced
2 small or one large tomato, diced

The original recipe calls for 2 roma tomatoes. I don’t see why they should be roma tomatoes instead of some other variety. Pick your favorite kind.

Although I’ve made impromptu approximations of this recipe several times over the past few years, I think it had been quite some time — until this weekend — since I had actually followed the recipe precisely. It makes a difference! What makes this recipe great in my mind is that all the flavors are balanced. When it’s done right, you can taste the lemon juice AND the salt AND the parsley AND the onion AND the olive oil, without any of them being drowned out. And it’s wonderful. Fresh and light, while still satisfying. Mmm-mm!

Here we go:


Ha. The instructions on my handwritten, laminated index card say this: “Cook the quinoa in the water until all the water has just been absorbed. Mix everything together.”

So there ya go.

I’ll leave you in the competent care of a series of photos…

Quinoa in saucepanHere’s the first step. Heat the quinoa together with the water in a saucepan. When the water boils, reduce the heat to a simmer. It will take roughly 20 minutes for the quinoa to cook. You might have to add a little water towards the end. When all the water is absorbed, taste some of the quinoa to check the texture. If it’s still too chewy, add a bit (not too much) of water and keep cooking it.

Tomato & OnionStep two: Chop up the tomato and the onion. The onion should be cut fairly finely. You don’t want big chunks. Toss the tomato and the onion in your final bowl, along with the lemon juice, salt, and olive oil. Mix those together.

Quinoa Tabouli (chopped parsley)Next is chopping up the parsley. I guess this picture is just here to demonstrate how much parsley we’re talking about here. Also, it’s nicer if you pull all the stems off, so you’re working with just the leaves.

Quinoa Tabouli (everything but the quinoa)And here’s what things look like right before you combine the quinoa with everything else. I should note: The cooked quinoa should be allowed to cool completely (or nearly so) before you mix everything together. If you mix the salad while the quinoa is still steaming hot, it will wilt the parsley, and the result isn’t as nice. At the “Deli”, we actually let the quinoa sit in the refrigerator for a while until it was no more than room temperature.

That’s all I’ve got. Have fun!

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