Tabouleh is an excellent summer dish that's light, easy to make and healthy to boot; especially if you make it with quinoa. Traditionally, this Lebanese/Palestinian salad is made with lots of fresh parsley and cracked wheat (bulgur). In fact, tabouleh is all about the parsley, and should be a rich green color. For years I've been substituting the ancient Andean grain called quinoa for the bulgur. It's far more nutritious (high in protein and other nutrients) than the cracked wheat version and I prefer its delicious nutty flavor. Quinoa is not actually a grain. It's the tiny seeds of a leafy plant related to spinach. It is very important that you wash the seeds at least three times to remove the bitter tasting residue of saponin, a chemical which is naturally found in the seeds. Dry roasting the rinsed and dried seeds briefly will intensify its wonderful nutty flavor. Making it a day ahead will also intensify the flavors considerably.
3/4 cup rinsed, roasted quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups flat-leaf parsley (it's got more flavor), chopped
1 cup fresh spearmint leaves, chopped
1 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
6 scallions, finely chopped
2 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (or to taste)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Wash the quinoa three times until water runs clear, drain and let sit to air dry.
2) Roast the rinsed and dried quinoa in a nonstick pan for about five minutes.
3) Place the roasted quinoa and water in a saucepan, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
4) Remove the pan from the heat and let stand covered for five more minutes.
5) Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork and then add tomatoes, scallions, cucumber, mint and fresh parsley and mix well.
6) Add olive oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and mix well.
7) Refrigerate the tabouleh for several hours or overnight (the flavor will be better).