While it should be clear to even the most casual reader that I am not all about healthy eating, I do quite enjoy a diverse range of foods. That umbrella is bound to cover some healthful tidbits from time to time. I also love trying new things and seeking out unique ingredients (someday I will tell you about The Great Maple Flake Search of 2008) and am a great fan of meticulous rows of grains and beans and pastas and different types of rice, all lined up in pretty Ball jars in my pantry. When I find a new staple to add to this array, well, I buy at least a pound. While I am no stranger to quinoa, until a few weeks ago I had never seen red quinoa. So into my shopping cart -- and into a Ball jar -- it went. And out this recipe came.
Quinoa tabbouleh. I've always thought of tabbouleh as a celebration of parsley. However, replacing tabbouleh's traditional bulgur with quinoa turns it into a celebration of quinoa. And who doesn't want to celebrate quinoa? Not that there's anything wrong with bulgur; it's just that quinoa is a little unexpected and brings a whole new texture to the dish. And since I'm apparently being healthy this week -- I even ran a mile tonight! -- I should mention that quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse that ups tabbouleh's already healthy ante quite significantly. It's high in protein and, especially important for vegetarians, its protein is complete, meaning it contains all the amino acids that we human folk need. It's gluten-free...it's grown in the Andes....And! It's kosher for Passover!
This quinoa tabbouleh is more delicious than anything healthy has a right to be, frankly. The fresh vegetables and bright herbs and simple dressing combine into something truly delectable...something that hits the spot after a cold cold January night spent at the gym. I could have eaten the entire bowl, but alas, there were other people around and maybe they would like to have some? But I don't know, the way I figure it, you snooze, you lose. To the victor goes the quinoa tabbouleh.
And in case you're concerned with my exercise regimen and nutritional eating -- just in case you fear that sources of complete protein have replaced sugar and chocolate in my lexicon and pantry -- I did just grab a (large) spaghetti brownie out of the fridge. Not all hope is lost.
Adapted from "Bon Appetit"
1 c. water
1/2 c. quinoa (red if you can find it), rinsed
2 T. olive oil
2 T. freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 T. plus 1/2 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly-cracked black pepper, to taste
1/2 c. seeded and peeled cucumber, finely chopped
1/2 c. seeded tomato, chopped
1/4 c. fresh mint, chopped
8 red or green lettuce leaves
In a medium saucepan, bring 1 c. water to the boil. Add quinoa; cover, reduce heat to low and cook until the water is absorbed, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.
While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the rest of the tabbouleh. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, 2 T. parsley and garlic in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Season the dressing to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Set aside. Prepare the vegetables and herbs.
When the quinoa is cool, add the cucumber, tomato, mint and remaining 1/2 c. parsley to the bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Taste and adjust for seasoning; I find it needs another few pinches of salt.
Arrange two lettuce leaves on each of 4 plates. Spoon the tabbouleh atop the lettuce and serve.
Makes 4 servings. Who am I kidding. Makes 1 serving.