This simple side dish was inspired by an abundance of parsley and mint in my garden. Whenever my parsley starts overtaking the pot, I immediately think of quinoa salad.
I hope that the following confession does not come as a surprise to you (and be a reason for you to never visit this blog again) but I am not a hip nor a happening foodie. I don’t keep up with trends, I eat what I like and what I want (in moderation). I boringly end up at the same restaurants 90% of the time (I’m looking at you Din Tai Fung and Papparoti).
So while everyone seems to have moved on to freekah and chia seeds (that word makes me sing the ch-ch-ch-chia pet jingle), I’m still stuck on quinoa. In fact, I have a small bag of it in my cupboard for years that I’m still trying to get through. It seems like the never ending bag of quinoa as a little goes such a long way.
What is Quinoa and Why Cook With It?
In case you’ve been living under a rock (like I do sometimes) and don’t know what is quinoa, it is seed (although oftentimes it is erroneously labeled as a “grain”) that is gluten-free, nutrient rich (high in iron, magnesium, and fiber), complete in all the essential amino acids, and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Quinoa is cooked just like rice using 1 part grain and 2 parts water and then simmered for 15-20 minutes. It expands to about three times it’s size when cooked as it absorbs all the cooking moisture. Use it where you would normally use rice, pasta, barley or couscous. Cooked quinoa seeds are fluffy, translucent, slightly crunchy with a delicate nutty flavor.
Researchers date the popularity of quinoa to approximately 3000 BC, when its consumption became widespread in the Andes mountains of South America.
Since moving to the Middle East, I’ve fallen in love with the salads here – especially tabbouleh (or is it tabbouleh with one b?). We really enjoy using quinoa in salads and this modified tabbouleh salad with quinoa is one of our family favorites. The quinoa has a softer texture than the more traditionally used bulgar.
I love using anything from my garden – so here I harvested fresh parsley and mint – and I throw in whatever extra veg is in my fridge – sometimes avocado, sometimes yellow pepper.
- ¼ cup (~40 g) Quinoa, uncooked
- 2 bunches of Parsley
- 1 handful mint leaves
- 1 bunch of Scallions or 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 large tomato, diced (or 1 box ~250g, cherry tomatoes, halved)
- 1 cucumber, diced
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons exta virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- ½ avocado, diced
- ½ yellow pepper, diced
- Cook quinoa according to package directions.
- Rinse parsley and mint if needed and chop finely by hand or in a food processor
- In a large bowl, combine quinoa, parsley and mint with the remaining vegetables/fruit.
- Make the dressing by whisking together lemon, oil and honey. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Pour dressing over salad and mix well.