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Tabbouleh (also known as tabouli) is a healthy & colourful salad that pairs well with many Mediterranean dishes like aromatic my Baharat chicken, meat kofta skewers or some freshly made flatbread.
This parsley & quinoa-based salad will give you plenty of spoonfuls of salty, fresh, sweet, peppery, tangy flavours – all in one bite with loads of crunch and nutrition!
Traditionally, fine bulgur wheat is added to tabbouleh, but luckily naturally gluten-free quinoa work just as well, absorbing the dressing and surrounding vegetable flavours perfectly.
About the ingredients:
Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”)
is an edible seed indigenous to the Andean region specifically Bolivia and Peru. It has a nutty taste which works wonders in tabbouleh to replace the traditional “gluten” cracked wheat grain, bulghur.
There are different types; white quinoa, red quinoa, yellow or tricoloured quinoa – all suitable for tabbouleh, choosing which one is just a matter of preference.
A bag of quinoa will give you your money’s worth as a little goes a long way since the quinoa seeds expand when cooked. Ideally, once the bag is opened, keep it chilled for further use.
Cooked quinoa has a bland flavour, but they are brilliant at absorbing flavours from stocks, seasonings, vegetable juices and dressings, which is why it works so well in tabbouleh exactly like bulghur.
I find by adding vegetable stock and spices, the quinoa comes alive and more interesting. You could add chicken or beef stock if you prefer a meatier flavour.
Before cooking the quinoa, it is essential to rinse it. This step will remove the bitter-tasting compound (saponin) that coats the tiny seeds.
A good indicator of the amount of stock needed to cook the quinoa perfectly is to fill it no more than 5mm above the grains in a small deep pot. Keep a close watch on the quinoa while it is cooking and stir every now and then. After 15 mins, there should be no more liquid in the pot. Make sure to remove the pot from the heat to prevent the base from catching.
Cover the cooked quinoa with a sheet of kitchen paper towel or tea towel and the pot’s lid to get it fluffy and dry. This step absorbs any excess moisture from the quinoa. Set it aside until it cools down and add it to the salad as instructed in the recipe.
Tomatoes and cucumbers are full of water, which is great when eating them straight up, but in tabbouleh, this water slowly seeps into the salad making it soggy. Therefore, by removing the seeds and flesh of the tomatoes and salting the cucumbers ahead of time to remove the excess water, these steps will avoid any sogginess.
Spring onions can have an intense flavour when eaten raw, but soaking them in cold water for 15 mins mellows them.
These seeds are not a traditional ingredient that you would find in most tabbouleh, but these sweet and tangy seed pods are a delicious & vibrant addition. If you can’t find fresh pomegranate, either use frozen pomegranate or chopped raisins for that sweet burst of flavour.
This dark syrup mimics the flavour of the fresh seeds, but with some earthy notes. Again, if this is hard to find, use honey or maple syrup.
Almonds & Feta Cheese
Almonds add a nice crunch and flavour to the salad. According to your preference, use either raw, unsalted or roasted, salted almonds, with or without the skin.
Add the almonds and feta cheese just before serving. The reason for this is that over time, the almonds will become soft, and the feta cheese will start to break down into the salad when chilled for too long. It simply tastes and looks better served at the last minute.
Is Tabbouleh healthy?
Besides the nutritious fresh vegetables and herbs, quinoa is a superfood with anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, extremely high in fibre and loaded with magnesium, potassium, iron and folate.
The addition of quinoa makes this a filling salad that will definitely ward off any hunger pangs between meals.
Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Salad
- 100 g white quinoa or any other colour of your choice
- 200-250 ml vegetable stock (or 1 tsp homemade vegetable stock paste for every 250ml warm water)
- ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
- ¼ tsp cumin powder
- freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp sumac or smoked sweet paprika
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 3 tbsp good quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses, honey or maple syrup
- 2 spring onions, sliced thinly
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and diced
- 60 g fresh flat-leaf parsley, stems removed One bunch is approx 40g
- 15 leaves fresh mint
- 2 tomatoes, seeds & flesh removed and diced
- 3 tbsp pomegranate seeds or sultanas
- salt and white pepper, to taste
To add just before serving
- 15 whole almonds, slivered or halved
- 100 g Feta cheese, cut into small cubes or crumbled
- Rinse the quinoa under running water, drain and add it to a small pot.
- Add the vegetable stock paste to the water and mix in well.
- Cover the quinoa with the stock no more than 5mm above the grains.
- Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer on medium-low uncovered for 15 mins.
- Remove from the heat and lay a sheet of kitchen paper towel or tea towel on top and cover with the lid. This step absorbs any excess moisture from the quinoa.
- Add cinnamon, cumin and some cracked black pepper and mix well.
- Leave aside to cool. TIP: At this stage, the quinoa can be chilled and kept for 2 days before assembling the tabbouleh salad.
- Combine all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside at room temperature while preparing the salad.
- Soak the chopped spring onions in cold water for 15 mins to remove their overpowering flavour.
- Cut the cucumbers into bite-size 1 cm cubes and sprinkle some salt on them. Leave them in a sieve for 20 mins.
- Wash off the salt with water and thoroughly dry the cucumber cubes.
- Wash, drain and thoroughly dry the tomatoes and spring onions before chopping them.
- Remove the stems of the parsley and mint leaves, wash and dry them thoroughly before chopping them semi-finely, almost into small flakes.
- In a medium serving salad bowl, mix the prepared vegetables with the pomegranate seeds or sultanas.
- Add the cooled quinoa and the dressing to the bowl and gently fold everything together.
- Taste and add more seasoning if needed.
- Cover and chill if serving later.
- Just before serving add the crumbled feta cheese and almonds.
- Keeps chilled for 2 days
- Not suitable to freeze