Last week, I came home from the farmers market with my bag full of beautiful, bright red summer tomatoes. As I set them out on the counter, I spotted a container of quinoa that hadn't gotten put away the night before. I looked at the tomatoes. I looked at the quinoa. Tomatoes. Quinoa. And so this herby, lemony, tomato-flecked quinoa tabbouleh was born.
Quinoa is one of my absolute favorite grains, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I'm a die-hard fan. It has a toasted flavor and slightly chewy texture that makes it great on its own or in a salad like this one. P.S. Add a poached egg and you have a very satisfying meal!
Recipe Tester's Notes
History repeated itself the other week: I came home with a heavy bag of tomatoes and had a few leftover cups of quinoa in the fridge waiting to be used. Quinoa tabbouleh, it was!
This is just a fantastic salad — it's a fairly traditional tabbouleh, but the bulgar gets replaced with tender quinoa. (Will you be mad at me if I admit that I actually like quinoa way better than bulgar?!) I make my tabbouleh extra lemony and then add a sprinkle of feta cheese at the end. And yes, to make it a meal, a poached egg is still my top choice!
Give this riff on tabbouleh a try and see if it doesn't make your list of top summer salads. It's also a salad that gets better after a day or so in the fridge, so it's perfect if you're headed to a summer potluck or out to the beach.
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1/2 medium red onion, chopped (3/4 cup)
2 medium tomatoes, chopped (2 cups)
1 1/2 to 2 cups minced parsley (1 large bunch)
1/2 cup minced mint (1 small bunch)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra to taste
Salt and pepper
8 ounces feta, optional
Rinse the quinoa under cool water, then combine with 2 cups of water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a rapid simmer, then turn down the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the quinoa is fluffy and chewy, about 20 minutes.
While the quinoa is cooking, soak the onion in a bowl of cold water. This softens its bite and makes it more pleasant to eat when raw.
Empty the cooked quinoa into a large bowl and allow it to cool almost to room temperature. The quinoa should feel just barely warm to the touch. You can speed this process by spreading the quinoa into a thin layer and stirring it occasionally.
Drain the red onions. Stir the onions, tomatoes, parsley, mint, and garlic into the warm quinoa. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pour this over the salad and stir to combine. If using, crumble the feta over the salad and stir it in. Taste a spoonful of the salad and add more salt or pepper to taste.
Serve room temperature or cold. This salad is even better the next day once the flavors have had a chance to mingle. Serve it on its own as a side dish or with wedges of pita bread as a light appetizer. (Makes 8 cups)
If you have the time and the fortitude, mince the herbs by hand. As a shortcut, give them a spin in a food processor.
This recipe has been updated. Originally published July 2009.