Having grown up in a Mediterranean country tabbouleh, or as we call it kisir, was a staple in our house. However, in my version here I am making tabbouleh with quinoa instead of the traditional ingredient, bulgur.
If you do a quick Google search, you will see that people gave this Middle Eastern classic salad different names. Some call it “tabbouleh” some “tabouli.” I guess the different spelling is because of it being a strange word for the English language.
Quinoa Tabbouleh Ingredients
Whichever way you prefer to call it, the authentic/traditional tabbouleh recipe is made by mixing together fresh herbs like Italian parsley, mint, and dill along with scallions and thin bulgur. The dressing for the salad is made by whisking a little bit of lemon juice with olive oil and salt and pepper.
Throughout the years, people made changes to the original recipe by adding ingredients like tomatoes, cucumber, tomato paste, roasted red pepper paste, pomegranate molasses, and even feta cheese (see Ina’s recipe here).
In my version here, I am joining the crowd by switching bulgur with quinoa to make my tabouli quinoa salad. Because let’s face it, thin bulgur is not the easiest-to-find ingredient in American supermarkets.
And to be quite honest, having been eating tabbouleh all my life, I can vouch for tabbouleh made with quinoa being just as good as the traditional recipe made with bulgur.
I also like the fact that being gluten-free and vegan, this healthy salad makes the perfect protein-rich summer dinner recipe.
How To Make Tabbouleh with Quinoa
As you can see in the video below in the recipe card, this Middle Eastern quinoa salad recipe has 4 folds.
- Cook the quinoa: To cook quinoa, mix 1 cup of rinsed quinoa with 1 ¾ cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring it to a boil, turn down the heat to low, and let it simmer until all of the liquid is absorbed 12 minutes. Let it sit for 10 minutes and fluff it with a fork to slightly cool down.
- Prep all the ingredients: Chop all the fresh herbs (mint, parsley, and dill) and scallions. I also added a cup of tomatoes and a small cucumber, because it is the end of summer and fresh tomatoes and cucumbers are in abundance. However, you can omit them if you don’t have any. Collect everything in a large salad bowl.
- Make the tabouli dressing: Simply mix together olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper. I personally like my quinoa tabouli with a lot of lemon juice, but in the recipe below I was conservative thinking that not everybody likes it the way I do. That is why I recommend tasting your quinoa tabouli at the end and adding more if you feel necessary.
- Assemble: Drizzle the salad with the dressing and give it a mix.
I’ll admit it does include some chopping, but in the end, it is an easy to make and refreshing gluten-free and vegan salad recipe you can make in less than 30 minutes.
How To Chop Parsley For Tabouli
As I was doing my research for this recipe, I saw some people recommending chopping herbs in a food processor. Quite honestly, I am not a big fan of doing so as I think it will bruise them.
Instead, I find that the easiest way to chop fresh herbs is to make a bouquet of them and then chop them all together using a sharp knife. Once they are all chopped up, go over them one last time to make sure that if there are any larger leaves left behind, they are minced as well.
In terms of the stems: If you don’t mind the additional work, you can tear up the leaves of the herbs and leave the stems out. I personally don’t mind them because since we are mincing them they get lost in the salad. Still, it is totally up to you.
Tabouli Calories – Tabbouleh Made with Bulgur versus Quinoa
The quinoa tabouli recipe below serves 4 people. The calorie count per serving is 311 calories. If you were to make this exact recipe using bulgur it would be 349 calories.
Even though both quinoa and bulgur are high in protein, quinoa has the upper hand when it comes to protein intake per serving almost double the amount in bulgur.
What To Serve with Quinoa Tabbouleh
Quinoa Tabbouleh is traditionally served as a side dish mostly with meat dishes, borek, and even as a vegan main course, especially when it is hot outside. Below are a few dishes I would serve quinoa tabouli with:
- Turkish Meatballs
- Spinach and Feta Cheese Borek
- Cheesy Parsley Phyllo Rolls
- Savory Feta Cheese and Kalamata Olive Cake
One of my favorite things about this easy tabbouleh recipe with quinoa is that it is so easy to customize and make it your own. Here are a few variations of this salad that you can try:
- Quinoa Parsley Salad: If you are not a big fan of mixing herbs try using just one herb. My favorite in the bunch is parsley. I have made this salad with only parsley and it was still delicious.
- Quinoa Tabbouleh with Chickpeas: If you want to make to turn this into a filling and meal-worthy salad try adding a can of chickpeas into the mix.
- Tabouli with Feta: If you are not following a vegan diet, you can add in a cup of feta. It adds a nice creamy and salty deliciousness and elevates the flavors to a whole new level.
- Add in a tablespoon pomegranate molasses into the dressing: If you cook Mediterranean / Middle Eastern recipes on a regular basis you might keep pomegranate molasses in your fridge. If so, add in a tablespoon of it into the salad for an additional sweet and savory goodness.
Whether you want to take a virtual culinary tour the Mediterranean or wondering how to make quinoa taste good, you should give this recipe a try. It is one that will surely not disappoint.
Other Quinoa Recipes You Might Like:
- Vegan Mexican Quinoa – A one-pan weeknight meal that you can make in less than 30 minutes.
- Vegetable Stew with Quinoa – All kinds of vegetables cooked with quinoa.
- Black Bean and Quinoa Tacos – Try these vegan quinoa tacos for your next Taco Tuesday
- Quinoa Crunch – If you love granola, you will love this easy and quick to make quinoa crunch
- Quinoa Power Bowl – A vegan bowl made with vegan meatballs and quinoa
Similar Fresh Salad Recipes You Might Like:
- Tomato Cucumber Mozzarella Salad – Fresh summer tomatoes and cucumbers layered with creamy mozzarella and avocados.
- Watermelon Avocado Salad – If you are into summer salads, this watermelon salad flavored with feta and mint is a must-try.
- Caprese Spaghetti Salad – Caprese salad mixed in with brown rice spaghetti and turned into a delicious gluten-free tomato and mozzarella salad recipe.
- Creamy Cucumber Salad Recipe: If you are a lover of cucumbers and want to try a healthier version of the traditional cucumber salad, you will love this version made with homemade Greek Yogurt dressing.
Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe
To cook the Quinoa:
- 1 cup quinoa rinsed
- 1 ¾ cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
For The Dressing:
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice freshly squeezed - plus more to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Tabbouleh:
- 1 cup fresh parsley chopped
- 1 cup fresh dill chopped
- ½ cup fresh mint chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes chopped
- 2 small or 1 English cucumbers, peeled and chopped
- 3-4 scallions sliced thinly both white and green parts
- To cook the quinoa: Place quinoa in a saucepan and add in the water and salt. Give it a mix, put the lid on and bring it to a boil in medium high heat. Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat to low and cook for 10-12 minutes or until water is fully absorbed. Take it off the heat and let it rest for 15 minutes. Fluff it with a fork and place it in a large salad bowl.
- Make the salad dressing: Meanwhile, prep the dressing by whisking all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set it aside.
- To assemble the quinoa tabbouleh: Place all tabbouleh ingredients in the bowl with the cooked quinoa.
- Drizzle it with the dressing. Give it a toss.
- Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.
- Can I make quinoa tabbouleh in advance? You certainly can make this salad a day in advance. If you do so, be sure to keep the salad in an airtight container in the fridge. Some people chop everything up, mix it with cooked quinoa, and drizzle it with the dressing at the very last minute, but I prefer adding the dressing in as I assemble the salad. I find that the time spent marinating in the fridge yields a more flavorful salad.
- What to do with the leftovers? If you have any leftovers, you can place them in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge up to 2 days. This quinoa tabbouleh salad makes the most amazing lunch on the next day.
Did you make this recipe?Tag @foolproofliving on Instagram and hashtag it #foolproofeats
This recipe has been updated in July 2020 with minimal edits with no changes to the originally published recipe – It was first published in September 2018.