Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad (also spelled tabouli, tabouleh and taboulah) has all of the wonderful flavors of a traditional tabbouleh salad (a classic Levantine dish), but is made with a base of tender quinoa instead of the traditional bulgur wheat. It's a great choice for those on a gluten free diet, Mediterranean diet, or for people like me who just happen to love quinoa!
Quinoa, sometimes mistaken for a grain or pasta, is actually a seed. It's a wonder seed really, in that it's one of the few plants that is a complete protein on its own. It's quick-cooking and has a delicately grassy flavor and pleasantly firm texture that stands in well for rice and other grains. It holds up well for days in the refrigerator, making it a great base for salads.
Ingredients You Need to Make Quinoa Tabbouleh
- Quinoa: pre-rinsed quinoa is a convenient choice for this recipe
- Lemon: fresh lemon juice
- Olive Oil: good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- Garlic: fresh garlic clove
- Green Onions: or chives
- Parsley: fresh flat leaf parsley
- Mint Leaves: fresh mint leaves (dried mint is not a good substitution here)
- Cherry Tomatoes: or grape tomatoes
- English Cucumber: or Persian cucumbers
- Feta: your favorite brand - I prefer sheep's milk feta for it's tangy flavor and extra creamy texture
- Greek Olives: or kalamata olives
- Salt: fine sea salt or about twice the amount of kosher salt
Quick, Easy and Great for Meal Prep
Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad is a great dish to make when you're feeling short on time. You can assemble it in about 30 minutes. It's best to refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight, to allow the flavors to meld before serving. But that makes it a great make-ahead meal! It's a perfect salad for get togethers and picnics, and makes an excellent portable lunch.
Though some of the toppings I've called for stray from traditional Middle Eastern Tabbouleh salad, they add so much flavor and make the salad fun to eat. With cherry tomatoes, crisp cucumber, briny olives, and tangy feta, every bite is different!
Vegan Recipe Option
It's easy to make a vegan version of this Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad (it's vegetarian as is), just omit the cheese and perhaps add chickpeas for added buttery texture. It makes a terrific side dish and is hearty enough to stand on its own as a main.
How long will Tabbouleh keep in the fridge?
Tabbouleh will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
Though this salad is hearty enough for a light meal, it's terrific served with main dishes like Grilled Lamb Chops or Grilled Lamb Loin Chops, Pan Fried Lamb Chops, Baked Lamb Chops, Chicken Kabobs, or Lamb Kabobs.
How to Make Quinoa Tabbouleh
Bring 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool.
Add salt, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic to cooled quinoa; gently stir to combine. Let stand at least 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
In a large serving bowl, add remaining ingredients (green onion, parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and olives) to quinoa mixture; toss to combine. Serve.
- 1 cup quinoa well rinsed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice about 1 lemon
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 3 green onions (scallions), finely chopped
- ½ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 large English cucumber (or 2 medium Persian cucumbers) cut into ½-inch pieces
- 3 ounces crumbled feta
- 1 cup Greek or kalamata olives pitted and halved, (20 to 24)
- In a medium saucepan combine quinoa and 2 cups of water. Bring to a rolling boil; reduce heat, cover and keep at a low simmer until liquid has evaporated, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with fork. Set aside to cool to room temperature. (Recipe note #1)
- Once the quinoa is cool, add salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Stir to combine; cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
- About ½ hour before you plan to serve the salad, remove the quinoa mixture from the refrigerator and toss with a fork. Add green onions, parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumber, feta, and olives (leave out a little bit of the feta, parsley, and mint for garnishing the top), and toss gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve.
- If you want to speed the quinoa cooling process, place cooked, fluffed quinoa, in the pan you cooked it in, into an ice bath. Gently fold inside the pan to quickly cool.