quinoa tabbouleh

I have annoying eating habits at work. Carrots – crunchy. Bananas – smelly. Hard-boiled eggs – crunchy (during the peeling) and smelly. My officemate is very tolerant. And on our first day in the office together, she asked me, “So is that how you stay thin? By eating healthy all the time?” Hmm…

  1. Call me thin some more, if you will. I will use it as an excuse to skip my workout this evening.
  2. Define “all the time.” Because…no. Not so much.

She asked me what I normally make for dinner, and I was at a loss for an answer. I’m a food blogger; I repeat dinners maybe once every couple of months. The quickest way I could think to answer that question was to give her the link to my blog. My third day at work, and I already outed myself as Food Obsessed.

She asked me what I was making for dinner that night, and when I answered, she asked what quinoa was. I was reminded: I’m the weird one when it comes to food. And so are you, probably, if you’re reading a food blog. I wonder what percentage of people in my small isolated desert town know what quinoa is?

Which is sad, because, as you know if you are also one of the Food Obsessed, quinoa is what all of the other whole grains (I know, I know, not technically a grain) want to be – hearty and healthy, but fluffy and slightly sweet, the way most grains don’t taste until they’re refined. Mixing it with vegetables, herbs, and feta makes it even healthier, which is perfect because that way I get dessert.  No one can eat healthy all the time, right?

One year ago: Strawberry Lemon Sorbet
Two years ago: Ricotta Spinach Tofu Ravioli

Printer Friendly Recipe
Quinoa Tabbouleh (adapted from Bookcook via the kitchn)

Makes 3-4 main course servings

Some things: I didn’t quite follow this method to mellow the bite of the onions, and my method did not work. The leftovers were particularly intense. Soak the onion in water! You may want to add the garlic too, although I have no evidence that this method would work for garlic. It just seems like it could.

The original recipe includes mint, but I don’t usually like mint with savory food. It also called for olive oil, and I intended to add it but after tasting the salad, the oil didn’t seem necessary. And less oil in dinner means more cookies for dessert.

The standard directions for cooking quinoa seem to be 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups water, so I’ve left that as it was in the original recipe. But I’m suspicious: my pot had a lot of water left in it at the end of cooking that had to be drained off. Next time I’m trying 1½ cups water for 1 cup quinoa.

I know traditional tabbouleh is more parsley than grain, but it’s also more side dish than main, which wasn’t what I was going for.

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
½ teaspoon salt
½ red onion, diced fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced ⅛-inch thick
1 bunch parsley (about 2 cups), minced
8 ounces feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1. Rinse the quinoa well under cold water. Put it in a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water and ½ teaspoon salt. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes. Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl to cool slightly.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, cover the diced onion and a pinch of salt with water. Let the onion soak while you prepare the other ingredients.

3. Drain the onions; add them to the bowl along with the garlic, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, and feta; stir to combine. Add the lemon juice and toss to coat. Taste for seasoning (more salt? more lemon juice?) and serve.


  1. I’m probably the only person in my group of friends to know what quinoa is… yet I’ve never had it before. Damn. Living in China is hard. (Other things I’m deprived of: Greek Yogurt. DAMN. Chickpeas. DAMN. Natural peanut butter. Ohh, DAMN!)


  2. The food I cook is different from what most people cook as well- it’s always interesting to talk to others about what they cook for dinner! I haven’t really cooked with quinoa very much, but this looks like something to try!

  3. Quinoa here costs a pretty penny – but since you said fluffy and slightly sweet, I’m more intrigued than ever 🙂 (when I get to NY!)
    Bananas smell nice!!

  4. This is my kind of meal!

  5. That sounds fantastic! I’m not even sure I can get quinoa around here, unfortunately, though. Hopefully on my next trip to the big city, I remember to stop by Trader Joe’s or something.

  6. I love your logic of less dinner = more dessert.

    Thanks for reminding me that I need to actually USE the quinoa in my cupboard.

  7. I am bookmarking this to make it this week…..thanks so much for a great recipe.

  8. We’ve got ’em fooled! I’m pretty sure my coworkers think I never indulge either 😉

  9. I was wondering how quinoa would do in tabbouleh since it goes well as a sub for almost anything it seems. This looks really delicious.

  10. I’ve been thinking of making something like this as well! Amazing!

  11. ha your story cracked me up, I totally have a similar reputation at work!

    We are big tabbouleh lovers so I can’t wait to try this quinoa version!

  12. Rachel says:

    I love this recipe! I’m not much of a cook but it turned out very well! Perfect for a hot summer evening. Thanks!!

  13. I’ve made traditional tabbouleh and buckwheat tabbouleh and loved them both. Will be definitely trying this quinoa version as well!