Enter quinoa, the grain that is conveniently a gluten-free seed, hey. I'm not as obsessed with quinoa as some, but in a salad like this, its nutty crunchiness is perfectly tabboulehesque...in fact, you would likely not realize you weren't eating traditional tabbouleh salad if someone (like me) didn't point it out. And except for all the substitutions I made, because that is one of the best things about tabbouleh — it welcomes just about any vegetable or nut you have knocking around in your kitchen. Zucchini not cucumbers? Fine! Roasted red peppers instead of tomatoes? Lovely! Pistachios in place of pine nuts? Great!
No matter the salad ingredients, I always add lemon zest, toasted cumin and coriander seeds, and toasted sesame oil to the dressing to really pop the flavor. The recipe below is vegan, but feel free to cook the quinoa in chicken stock, or toss in crumbled feta cheese and/or pieces of tender chicken for further popping.
Keep reading for her recipe.Or try this, my very favorite ways to eat tabbouleh: while it hums alongside hummus (together stuffed into a warm, fresh pita for a flavorful sandwich if you're not gluten-free), this simple trick is even more mind-blowing: smear a generous dollop of Greek yogurt in the bottom of a bowl, sprinkle it lightly with a bit of salt and freshly cracked pepper, then spoon the tabbouleh over the top. As you enjoy your salad, swipe the bottom of the bowl with your spoon (I suggest a spoon, not a fork), so each bite of nutty crunchiness is elevated by a slide of creamy yogurt. I'm pretty sure you'll like it very much.
1 c. quinoa, rinsed
1 1/4 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 red bell pepper
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2" dice (about 1 c.)
1/2 - 1 c. chopped fresh flatleaf parsley (to taste)
1/2 c. chopped fresh mint
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 c. chopped (pitted) kalamata olives
1/2 c. chopped toasted pistachios (or pine nuts)
1/2 tsp. each cumin & coriander seeds
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of one lemon
1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Greek yogurt for serving
Add quinoa, salt, and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn heat to low, cover, and simmer quinoa for 10 minutes. Keep covered, remove from heat, and let sit for 5 minutes. Transfer quinoa to a medium bowl to cool, fluffing with a fork a few times as it comes to room temperature.
Meanwhile, over a gas flame or under a broiler, scorch the bell pepper until blackened on all sides. Place in a small paper bag for 20 minutes. When cool, slide charred skin off, remove and discard seeds and stem, and cut flesh into 1/4" dice.
While the quinoa and bell pepper cool, toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat until fragrant (watch carefully so they don't burn). Grind in a coffee grinder or mortar & pestle and add to a small bowl. Whisk in lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, sesame oil, garlic, and salt. Set aside.
When quinoa is cool, add the bell pepper, zucchini, parsley, mint, scallions, olives, and pistachios. Whisk dressing and pour over salad, tossing well to combine. Season with freshly ground black pepper (and a bit more salt, if needed). Serve with Greek yogurt. Can be made one day ahead; however, reserve pistachios until just before serving to preserve crunch.