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A More Filling Version of Classic Tabbouleh With Quinoa
A new rule I’ve been following lately:
All grain/legume salads that I make must be substantial enough for a filling meal.
Because who has the time and energy to make a big quinoa salad for a side dish? I know a busy person like you doesn’t. So, that’s why I’m going full meals or bust (for now).
This quinoa tabbouleh (aka tabouli) is the perfect place to start. It will only take you a bit over 20 minutes to make. And it is even better over the next day or two as the flavors meld.
So, you will easily gain that 20 minutes back during your week since you’ll be eating the leftovers of this quinoa tabouli instead of cooking another meal.
This phenomenon is something I like call “time negative”. Meaning you’re actually saving time over the course of a few days by cooking. That’s right, saving time by spending time.
It’s basically like time travelling. Without the whole “changing the past alters the present” conundrum.
So, if you’re interested in time travelling (or a big fan of Back to the Future), make this quinoa salad with cucumbers the next time you need to gain some time back in your busy life.
What is Tabbouleh?
Tabbouleh – the English spelling is tabouli – is an Eastern Mediterranean dish traditionally composed of chopped tomatoes, parsley, mint, onion, bulgur wheat, lemon and olive oil. It is much heavier on the green herbs than this version. And it doesn’t have olives and feta.
So, calling this recipe tabbouleh may be a stretch, but I want to give credit where due.
Specifically, tabbouleh is a Levantine dish. The Levant region is made up of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestinian territories.
The cuisine from the Levant region is delicious and healthy. It includes other healthy diet favorites such as hummus and baba ghanoush. Next time someone asks you what your favorite type of food come from, don’t sleep on the Levant.
How to Make Quinoa Tabouli
This simple healthy quinoa salad is super easy and quick to make. Here is the rundown of what you’re going to do:
- Cook the quinoa – Bring a pot of water to boil, add the quinoa, return to a boil and simmer for 12 minutes, drain, let sit covered for 5 minutes.
- Prep your ingredients – While the quinoa is cooking, this will give you time to prep the rest of your ingredients. Efficiency rules.
- Make the dressing – Combine lemon juice and olive oil at the bottom of your serving bowl.
- Add and combine – Add the quinoa and toss to coat it in the dressing. Then add all of your other ingredients. Taste and add salt if necessary. The dish should already be pretty salty due to the feta and olives so be careful here. I ended up over salting the first time I made this.
How to Cook Quinoa
First off, did you know quinoa is actually a seed? I didn’t until recently. I had always though it was a grain.
Anyway, you don’t want mushy quinoa. Or mushy anything. But you also don’t want dry quinoa. So, here is how to cook it perfectly:
- Use a 2:1 ratio of water to quinoa. Bring the water and a few pinches of salt to a boil.
- Add the quinoa.
- Return to a boil, cover pan, and reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 12 minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Drain any remaining water. Then let sit covered for 5 minutes.
If you like your quinoa a bit drier – maybe you’re using it on a green salad – simmer for 10 minutes instead of 12.
Variations to Quinoa Tabbouleh
It’s super fun and easy to play around with ingredients in salads like this one. Here are a few ideas.
- Go traditional – Double the herbs and omit the feta and olives to make a more traditional tabbouleh. Swap quinoa for bulgur to get even closer to the traditional version.
- Top with tahini – Drizzle tahini over the salad for a more rich dish. Even better, top with this easy homemade hummus.
- Add some crunch – Top this refreshing salad with these crispy roasted chickpeas for a crunchy texture.
How Should I Serve This Quinoa Tabbouleh
This dish is best served at room temperature or cold. Traditionally, tabbouleh is served as a side dish, salad, or appetizer.
But, this quinoa tabbouleh is intended to also be suitable as a full meal. The added feta and olives make it filling enough to eat as a dinner and leftovers for lunch combo.
What Type of Olives Should I Use?
I like kalamata olives for this dish. It aligns with the whole Mediterranean vibe. But, you can use whatever type of olives you have on-hand, except those nasty little canned black olives.
Canned black olives are actually green olives that have been artificially ripened. They are turned black through processing and you can taste that something isn’t quit right. The first time I tried an olive was one of these and it made me think I didn’t like olives for about 2/3 of my life. So, I have a bit of a grudge.
Here is a rundown of some common olive varieties you’ll find at your grocery store.
- Kalamata – Versatile, salty, and earthy olives. Kalamata, sometimes called “Greek” olives are used in all types of cooking. I used these for this recipe and it tasted delicious. This will probably be your best option for cost to taste value.
- Manzanillas or Green Olives – These are the jarred olives typically labelled “green olives”. They’re crisp, smoky, nutty, and affordable. They’re my second choice for adding olives to a salad like this.
- Castelvetrano or Cerignola – These are big, meaty green olives that are delicious. They are the highest quality olives you will find at the grocery, but they can be pricey. Choose these when you’re eating olives all by themselves.
- Picholine – Picholine olives are small green olives that are typically used in cocktails and to produce olive oil. They are mild flavored and nutty.
How Long Does This Quinoa Tabbouleh Keep?
I have great news for you: this dish gets better after a day in the refrigerator. And it can be cold or at room temperature. It will last 3-4 days covered in your refrigerator.
I had this dish for lunch the next day and it blew me away. It even received a mid-day text from my wife letting me know how delicious her lunch was.
More Filling Recipes
- Vegan Black Bean Tacos
- Easy Shakshuka
- Simple Chickpea and Kale Salad With Avocado
- Roasted Beet and Farro Salad
- Sweet Potato Salad With Cabbage and Spinach
Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad with Feta and Olives
- 1.5 cups quinoa (about 4.5 cups cooked)
- 1 lemon, juice only
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1 hothouse or English cucumber, cut into 1/4" pieces
- 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch parsley, chopped
- 1 cup mint, chopped
- 4-5 oz kalamata or green olives, roughly chopped
- 5 oz crumbled feta
- kosher salt
- Bring 3 cups of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Season with a few pinches of salt and add the quinoa. Bring back to a bowl and cover. Turn the heat to low and let simmer for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, drain any remaining water, and let sit covered for 5 minutes.
- While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the tomatoes, cucumber, scallions, parsley, mint, olives and feta.
- Add the lemon juice and olive oil to a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the quinoa and toss to coat.
- Add the rest of your ingredients to the quinoa. Toss to combine. Taste and add salt if necessary. Eat warm, cold, or at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator, covered for 3-4 days.
Want To Start a Tab(bouleh)?
Refreshing, make-ahead, and wholesome. Those are the three words I’d pick to describe this quinoa tabbouleh. Maybe I’m beating a dead horse, but man, it is so good after a day or two.
Next time I make this, I may not even eat it fresh. I may just toss it into a few containers and go full meal prep. Something I rarely do because it’s really hard for me not to eat food that I just made.
What can I say, I’m a sucker for a home cooked meal.
If you like this recipe, you’ll love my 5-Day Salad Challenge. You’ll learn how to eat a healthy salad every day without having to cook a salad every day. Sound good? Sign up below!