Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Perfect Spring Treat: Quinoa Tabouli

I love tabouli.  In fact, sometimes I get a craving for it.  If you've never experienced it before, tabouli is a Middle Eastern salad made with fresh spring herbs, finely chopped veggies, and bulgur wheat, all bound together by olive oil and lemon...yum.  It's one of those dishes that you feel virtuous eating-you know that the reason you crave it is because your body WANTS all that vital green.  So, I generally eat as much of it as I can get.

Sadly, I had to give it up when I gave up gluten.  To be honest, I felt more heartbroken about never eating tabouli again than I did about ditching bread.  The worst part was that there is no substitute—tabouli ‘s main ingredient is wheat. 

Yesterday afternoon I was out in my herb garden and noticed that the parsley is trying to take over. 

I was feeling sad as I pruned it back, thinking that I could easily eat all that parsley if I could just make some tabouli.  I had to throw bunches of parsley into the compost.  What a waste.

Then I went inside to make dinner.  I was making quinoa.  Quinoa looks like a grain but is actually a seed.  It is gluten free and easy to make- I cook it just like rice and use homemade bone broth instead of water to boost the mineral content.  As I was spooning the quinoa out of my rice cooker, it occurred to me that it looks a lot like bulgur wheat.  In that moment I had what I believe was a flash of genius:  quinoa tabouli!
 I am going to insist on believing that I am the first one to come up with the brilliant idea of substituting quinoa for bulgur wheat, and I refuse to google it and prove myself wrong.  If you or someone you know has made it this way before, I'd appreciate it if you'd keep it to yourself.

Non negotiables:
2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled and fluffed with a fork
1/4 cup good olive oil
Large handful fresh parsley, chopped fine
1/2 red or yellow onion (or 3-4 green onions, include white and green), diced
Juice of 3 medium limes or lemons
Salt to taste
Mix and match:
3 or 4 sprigs fresh mint OR small handful cilantro OR small handful basil (I don't like to mix these three-i think they compete with each other.  However, you can experiment with any combination of tender greens in your tabouli, along with the obligatory parsley.)-finely chopped
1/2 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
3 radishes, diced
1/2 green bell pepper (any color or mix), diced
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  If you can control yourself and put it in the fridge for a few hours, the flavors will meld and intensify.  If you are like me and don’t understand delayed gratification, just eat it immediately.

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