Tuesday, May 04, 2010


Alert the media: I may be having an official love affair with quinoa. Something about its fluffy al dente texture is so comfort-foody to me that it feels secretly indulgent, yet it’s actually angelically light and wholesome. And this recipe for it is even better than the first one I tried.

My parents loved making tabbouleh when I was a kid, but the chewy, health-foodish bulgur that was its base grossed me out. Nowadays I’ll eat tabbouleh as part of a restaurant platter, but it definitely plays a supporting role to the hummus and falafel, and I certainly never felt compelled to make it at home until I started obsessively searching the Web for more quinoa recipes and saw this one at The Kitchn. Ta-dah: Trade bulgur for quinoa and I freakin’ love tabbouleh! Aside from the quinoa, it’s not really much different from my recipe for fattoush, except with feta and onion and without cilantro. You’ve got your tomato, cucumber (not included in the original recipe, but included in many similar recipes, and I’m never sorry for an excuse to eat cucumber, so I added it here), parsley, and mint in a lemon dressing—what’s not to love? And love it I did. I went a bit easier on the herbs (the quantities here are pretty huge, and mint and parsley are probably A’s least favorites; also, I admit I may have gotten tired of mincing) and it was perfectly delicious, but I don’t think the full amounts would be as overpowering as I feared, so I’ll be bolder next time. I also eased up on the feta; the original recipe called for 8 ounces, and Trader Joe’s sells crumbled feta in 6-ounce containers. I didn’t even use the entire container and it seemed plenty cheesy to me, but I know feta lovers are a passionate bunch (I’m more feta-neutral), so just eyeball whatever looks good to you. If you want to be vegan, this would still even be tasty with the cheese left out entirely.

Anyway, I served this with hummus and pita crisps, although it makes a perfectly satisfying light meal on its own—as I can vouch, because even though A claimed to like quinoa tabbouleh, he didn’t make a dent in the three leftover servings. Which, actually, was just fine with me; I happily ate them all myself over the course of the week. In fact, I wish I had some right now. This will definitely be one of my go-to dishes this summer.

1 cup dry quinoa
½ red onion, diced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced, or 1–2 cups of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch parsley (about 2 cups), minced
1 bunch mint (about ½ cup), minced
6–8 ounces feta
¼ cup good extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste

1. Rinse the quinoa well under cold water, then add to a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the quinoa is fluffy and chewy, about 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put the diced red onion in a small bowl, cover it with water, add a pinch of salt, and let soak. (This will give the raw onion less bite.)

3. When quinoa is cooked, empty it into a large bowl and allow it to cool almost to room temperature, stirring occasionally. (This will help the vinaigrette coat everything without the quinoa absorbing too much of it.)

4. When the quinoa feels just barely warm to the touch, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and a healthy pinch of salt. Pour it over the quinoa and stir until the grains are evenly coated. Drain the water off the onions and add them to the bowl along with the tomatoes, cucumber, garlic, parsley, and mint, and stir to combine. Crumble the feta over the top and gently stir it in as well. Taste the salad and add more lemon juice or salt as desired.

Serves: 4-6
Time: 45 minutes
Leftover potential: High. The flavors actually deepen overnight. Will keep in the fridge for at least a week; can be eaten cold or at room temperature (I like it best somewhere in between). Great for work lunches because it’s not too heavy but still prevented me from being ravenous at 5 p.m.

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