Quinoa tabbouleh is a low-calorie Middle Eastern side dish packed with plant protein, fresh vegetables, and herbs in each serving. This healthy salad is drizzled with a simple homemade lemon garlic dressing.
Quinoa tabbouleh is a vegetarian side dish that features grain-like seeds that pack an extra protein punch. Tabbouleh is hands down my favorite Middle Eastern appetizer. The finely chopped parsley and mint, with tomatoes, onions and cracked wheat bulgar make this salad undeniably refreshing.
My recipe features fresh vegetables, herbs, and quinoa, then tossed in a pungent olive oil and lemon dressing. A simple and flavorful salad with nutritional properties. That’s a win-win right there. If you are looking to incorporate more vegetables into your day, or try a different spin on a Middle Eastern mezze, this recipe needs to be added to your weekly meal rotation!
Health benefits of quinoa
Besides being cute little spheres of wholesomeness, what is quinoa? A plant native to Bolivia, Chile, Peru, and parts of Mexico from the goosefoot species which has edible seeds. Quinoa provides significant health benefits:
- Protein: It contains all nine essential amino acids making it a complete protein. Based on the USDA nutrient database, 1 cup of cooked quinoa (185 g) contains approximately 8 grams of protein and 220 calories.
- Nutrients: Quinoa also contains nutrients such as fiber (5 grams per cup), iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, zinc, and B-vitamins.
- Gluten-Free: It is a seed, so it’s a safe alternative for those looking for a gluten-free substitution for wheat, barley, rye, and other gluten-containing grains.
Quinoa is cooked just like rice using the boiling and simmering method and only takes about 20 minutes to prepare. One cup of dry quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked quinoa.
Taste of quinoa
Quinoa has an earthy and nutty flavor. When cooked the seeds absorbs the liquid and become light and fluffy, similar to couscous but less dense since it does not contain wheat.
I love adding quinoa to any dish because it keeps me feeling satisfied without being overstuffed like other more refined grains. You can make Asian-inspired quinoa meatballs or even quinoa burgers! It’s a delicious and healthy substitution for bulgar traditionally found in tabbouleh recipes.
This quinoa tabbouleh salad is a flavor melting pot. It’s got super ripe mini cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers for crunch, and aromatic chopped parsley, mint, and green onions. The combination makes for a wonderfully flavorful and fresh salad.
Don’t forget the dressing! All you need is some minced garlic, freshly squeezed lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. A little whisk, whisk, whisk and you’ve got a homemade dressing in minutes, yeah! Drizzle it all over the salad, and then it’s time to eat!
This quinoa tabbouleh can be a vibrant stellar salad to serve with other tasty dishes like grilled salmon or Greek chicken skewers with hummus. Eating a satisfying and nourishing meal can be easy with just a few wholesome and seasonal ingredients.
More quinoa recipes
Wash and rinse before cooking
Before quinoa is processed for consumption, there is a natural coating of bitter-tasting saponins, making it tough to eat. The seeds can be further treated to remove some of that bitter coating, but often some of the taste remains. It helps to rinse thoroughly and wash the quinoa under running water before cooking to remove the bitter flavor. Drain the water, and it’s ready to be cooked!
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- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large english hothouse cucumber, or 2 Persian cucumbers, cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 cup curly parsley, chopped
- ½ cup mint, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup red onion, minced
- ¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
- zest of 1 lemon
- Bring quinoa, salt, and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender about 15 minutes.
- Turn off heat and let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Transfer to a large bowl and refrigerate to cool.
- Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil until a smooth emulsion forms. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, mint, red onions, green onions and lemon zest to a bowl with the quinoa, stir to combine.
- Gradually drizzle and toss with dressing. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Serving Size: ¾ cup
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