This quinoa tabbouleh recipe almost escaped me. Or should I say almost escaped you? Or maybe almost escaped the blog? Flipping through my images in Lightroom the other day on the way to getting the tamale pie pictures ready, I caught a glimpse of this salad and thought to myself, “What is that???” I feel that lately I whine endlessly about my lack of time to sneak pictures of what I’m cooking and get it on the blog (because rest assured, I am still cooking–lots), but this recipe has been right under my nose, waiting to be typed up and shared with you all just in time for tomato and basil season!
Like my creamy enchiladas, I’ve been making this quinoa tabbouleh since I discovered the recipe on Tori’s site. By the way, if you haven’t seen her amazing, educational recipe posts you must check them out. Anyway, the salad prep became habit and, as often happens at that stage in a foolproof recipe, it started to morph into my own version. I’ve obstinately refused to/procrastinated buying a mini food processor that would handle the original green dressing well, and since the small quantity isn’t suited to the large Vitamix or 11 cup food processor containers, I decided to hand chop it, leaving bits of fresh herbs to emphasize the feeling of classic tabbouleh. I found that mixing some of the dressing with slightly warm quinoa allowed the often-bland grain (ahem, seed) to soak up lots of flavor. And while quinoa is high in protein, I guarantee its satisfaction factor as a one-dish meal by throwing in chickpeas or white beans of late.
On its own, the quinoa tabbouleh is an uncontested winner, but I know there’ll be some opinions out there about the kale salad it rests upon. One word of advice. Actually, two. First, you don’t have to use kale. Use your imagination and find the best looking seasonal greens you can get your hands on. Second, if you do use kale, which I highly recommend from a nutrition and visual standpoint, you’ve gotta show it some love first. Don’t be like the kale salad I had at brunch in Nashville–piled raw on a plate, which makes me feel like a koala bear munching my way through eucalyptus leaves. Do follow the simple instructions in the recipe below for massaging the kale, or get more details here (and please note the show-off one-arming a huge Kitchen Aid in the background–hey hulk). Unless you’re putting it in a smoothie or cooking it, I don’t recommend buying kale pre-packaged/pre-cut. It will likely contain some very tough stems, which even a good massage can’t break down.
It sounds like a lot of work, but the kale prep, along with the dressing and salad components, can be nearly finished while the quinoa cooks. That means there’s a new recipe for the Natural Comfort Kitchen quick dinners archive!
Some more fun news in NCK land: I got my first cookbook for review in the mail recently! Eat Right for Your Sight focuses on macular degeneration prevention through diet. I’m excited to share a recipe from the colorful, diverse cookbook soon. As is typical, I kind of missed the boat on joining the May 14th blog party, but you must check out some other recipes from the book, captured by food blogs I’m always admiring when I stop by foodgawker. Here are a few of my favs (aka, things I want to eat right now):
- Mac and Cheese with Shredded Carrots (Izzy at She Likes Food)
- Sweet Split Pea Soup with Mint and Clementine (Joyce at Light Orange Bean)
- Succotash Ragout (Cyndi at My Kitchen Craze)
In the traditional sense, this salad probably isn’t tabbouleh at all. It does share many of the best characteristics of the classic Mediterranean original, though: great to make ahead, based on an easy-to-prepare grain, and chock full of seasonal herbs and juicy tomatoes. Creamy dressing and avocado chunks make it extra satisfying, and mixing in some cooked chickpeas truly makes it a one-dish meal.
- 2 1/4 C vegetable stock or water
- 1 1/4 C dry quinoa, rinsed
- 1/4 C pine nuts
- 1 large ripe avocado
- 2 lemons
- 3/4 lb. grape or other seasonal tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 large cucumber, seeded and grated (with peel on)
- 3/4 C loosely packed parsley or basil leaves
- 1 T mayonnaise (or tahini)
- 1/2 t honey or maple syrup
- 1/4 C good quality olive oil
- Kosher or sea salt
- Ground black pepper
- 1 large bunch green kale, stems removed and chopped into bite sized pieces
- 2 C cooked chickpeas (optional; for a more filling entree salad)
- Bring stock or water to a boil in a medium saucepan, then add quinoa and stir once. When water returns to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes without stirring. Taste quinoa for doneness, then drain and empty to a large mixing bowl to begin cooling.
- Meanwhile, heat a small skillet over medium and add pine nuts. Shake or stir frequently until almost all the nuts are golden brown, then quickly remove to a paper towel or plate to cool.
- Chop the avocado and coat in juice of 1/2 lemon to keep from browning. Finely chop half the herbs and set aside. Mince (or process) the other half and add to a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Add mayo, sweetener, and the juice of 1 lemon and whisk to combine. Pour in olive oil slowly as you whisk. Taste the dressing and season with salt and pepper, as needed.
- Toss warm quinoa with enough dressing to moisten (start with half). Cool to room temperature, then add pine nuts, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, and chopped herbs and stir to combine. If using, stir in the chickpeas. Season with more salt and pepper, if needed.
- In another bowl, add juice of remaining 1/2 lemon and a pinch of sea salt to the kale. Grab small fistfuls of kale and squeeze firmly, repeating to “massage” all the kale until it’s dark green, fragrant, and tender. Serve tabbouleh over the massaged kale with any remaining vinaigrette.
Prepared as prescribed, the salad is gluten free and vegetarian. Make it vegan by substituting vegan mayo, such as Just Mayo.
The vinaigrette can be prepared a day ahead of time. The salad keeps well for several days. If you’re making it for a party, wait until serving to add the pine nuts, for maximum crunch.
- Prep Time: 15 mins
- Cook Time: 20 mins
- Category: Salad
- Cuisine: Mediterranean Fusion
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