Once we hit July and everything steams up and the sun is up in the East before 6 a.m. with its glow on the western horizon until about 9 p.m., I am seldom in the mood for long hot days in the kitchen. I want to come home from the pool, hop off my bike, hit the shower and plop myself down with a bowl of fresh veggies. So my newest version of classic Middle Eastern Tabbouleh is a perfect summer dish. It will also make a great side to the chicken and pork mole, if you are planning something more intense—like a party!
You may recall my Green Gal Tabbouleh from a couple of years ago—it was considerably more work than what I’m proposing here, but it was a special dish for a party teeming with vegetarians. And, it’s yummy, so check it out if you have not seen this recipe. But if what you are after is simple summer fare, read on…and, oh yes, this one is gluten free, too!
- Zest and juice of one large or two small limes
- One-quarter cup brown rice vinegar
- One teaspoon coarse sea salt
- One tablespoon honey
- One or two large cloves garlic, minced
- One-half cup fresh parsley, minced
- One-quarter cup fresh mint leaves, minced (or one-eighth cup each, mint and fresh cilantro minced)
- One-quarter cup olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Two cups cooked white quinoa (one cup quinoa, rinsed; two cups water)
- Three medium or two large cucumbers, washed, seeded and diced
- One large red bell pepper, washed, seeded and diced
- Two large or four small fennel bulbs, washed, trimmed, cored and diced
- One-half cup diced onion, either spring onions with tops or red onion
- Start with the quinoa, rinsing it and cooking it in filtered water until it has completely absorbed all the liquid, about 30 minutes. Set aside to cool a bit.
- Next make the dressing by combining the lime zest and juice, the rice vinegar, honey, garlic, sea salt, pepper, minced herbs, and finally whisking in the oil for a nice emulsion.
- Place the warm quinoa in a large bowl and toss well with the dressing. Adding the dressing while the quinoa is still slightly warm allows it to soak up the dressing a bit better.
- Now cut up all the vegetables, which will give the quinoa/dressing mixture a chance to continue cooling.
- Once all the vegetable preparation is complete, toss everything together in the bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least four hours up to overnight.
The cook time refers to cooking the quinoa. Remember that you are making this ahead and need 4-12 hours marinating time.
So pretty simple, eh? And there’s more to love here than just simplicity. Because I’ve chosen quinoa over more traditional grains, I’ve kept the dish gluten free and super-charged it with protein. This dish is a wonderful side to rich food, but it is also is a complete protein meal for vegans.
Here are some of the garnishes I suggest to make your New-Take Tabbouleh a hit on the picnic table:
Toasted salted pumpkin seeds
Diced avocado with an extra spash of lime
Diced fresh apricots (be brave!)
One last word: Flexibility
I began making this salad in early June when bell peppers were nowhere to be found, so the first version contained carrots instead peppers. So if you are fresh out of peppers, carrots are another colorful option.
If fennel isn’t around, I suggest celery, but this will definitely change the flavor. If you go with celery, try adding a sprinkle of ground star anise. My best advice is to stick with the fennel, but if you try celery, let me know how you liked it.
The parsley is a must here—it is the main ingredient in traditional tabbouleh. However, if you are not a minty person, try just the cilantro. If you detest cilantro, stick with the mint or maybe add some fresh thyme. Give it your new take on tabbouleh and share your creative results.