My parents’ garden is overflowing with tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley and mint – all ingredients that go into tabbouleh. Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern dish traditionally made of bulgur wheat, finely chopped herbs, and spices. Tabbouleh is thought to have originated in Lebanon, where it is the national dish, but it is now enjoyed all over the world, particularly in vegetarian or vegan cuisines or as a refreshing summer treat. Tabbouleh is one of those dishes that lends itself to improvisation, so I swapped out the traditional bulgar and replaced it with quinoa.
Quinoa is a seed and not a grain, and its high protein content and balance of amino acids make it an ideal addition to meatless diets, as well as gluten-free diets. Combined with the bounty provided by my parents’ garden (or your garden, or your CSA, or your farmers’ market!), this side dish is a vibrant, fresh-tasting salad, packed with antioxidants, protein and overall deliciousness.
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup quinoa
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/2 cup to 1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (optional)
Bring quinoa and vegetable broth to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 25 minutes. Set aside for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork. Let it cool, then stir in cherry tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, mint, green onions and allspice.
Because tabbouleh is very flexible, feel free to add more or less of any ingredient based on your personal taste. Swap out cherry tomatoes for whatever tomatoes you have. Substitute cracked wheat or millet for the quinoa. The ground allspice may sound unusual, but I encourage you to try it – it adds a nice touch of warmth and spice.
Photo credit: Rita Nelson.