I’ve been away for a short while and I have the weather to blame for my absence. Although we’re just going into the third week of summer, its been hot for the majority of those days. I’ve been cooking up a storm as usual but somehow the act of cooking, taking photographs of the food I cook and then blogging about it in this extreme heat is making me that much hotter. Most days after I’ve finished cooking I just want to eat and then lean back with an ice-cold drink.
There are other days in between the cooking up a storm days when I’m happy with just a simple salad. And by simple I don’t mean a boring mix of the usual salad greens with slices of tomatoes and other vegetables thrown in. I prefer something that not only looks fresh but tastes fresh as well. A salad where in each mouthful you taste the individual components that make up the whole dish. A tangy burst of sun ripened tomato, the crunch of cool cucumbers, the grassy taste of fresh herbs. And just to keep things interesting nuttiness from a favorite grain. In this case the grain is quinoa and the salad I’ve been munching on for most of these hot summer days is tabbouleh.
I fell in love with tabbouleh in culinary school. Once I tasted it I could not get it out of my head. Tabbouleh is a middle eastern dish of chopped vegetables and herbs. Traditionally, tomatoes, green onions, cucumbers, parsley, mint and bulgur wheat all tossed together with a lemony vinaigrette. It is about the most refreshing salad you will ever put into your mouth.
Instead of bulgur wheat I use quinoa. Only because I am more likely to have a tub of quinoa on hand and bulgur wheat isn’t something I use everyday. I was told that tabbouleh is all about the parsley and I have seen many a recipe that supports this. Some have as much as 3 cups of parsley to one cup of cooked grains. I”ve never put that much parsley in and my tabbouleh is always well-balanced.
This recipe makes a good amount and I store leftovers in small chinese soup containers so that when I’m going out I can grab a tub as a healthy alternative to eating fast food on the run. It’s perfect alone or for a heartier version add strips of cooked chicken breast. If you’re going meatless tuck a few spoonfuls inside of a pita for a quick sandwich. Either way you decide I promise you won’t be disappointed by this cool herby salad.
Recipe: quinoa tabbouleh , adapted from Epicurious.com
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus more if needed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1 large English cucumber cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 scallions thinly sliced (white and light green parts only)
Cook quinoa: Bring quinoa, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 1/4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.
Meanwhile, whisk lemon juice and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spread out quinoa on a large rimmed baking sheet; let cool. Transfer to a large bowl; mix in 1/4 cup of dressing. Add cucumber, tomatoes, herbs and scallions to bowl with quinoa; toss to coat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Drizzle remaining dressing over. Serve or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days.