I must admit that I felt a little like Heidi Swanson the other day when working up this recipe. No, it wasn’t ’cause of how I looked in the stylish skirt I was wearing ;-), but rather this quinoa and veggie treat is exactly the kind of thing that Heidi presents so beautifully on her blog, 101 Cookbooks every week.
Growing up in Vermont, with an Italian mother manning the stove, I didn’t grow up eating anything quite so exotic as middle-eastern cooking. In fact, it wasn’t until I married my wife, who is of Lebanese descent, that I was finally exposed to more than just the very basics of middle-eastern cuisine. Since then, I have come to love not just the ubiquitous hommus, falafel, and baba ghannouj, but also dishes like fatayer, kibbe and tabbouleh.
Tabbouleh which comprises of parsley, mint, and tomatoes all tossed in a lemony dressing, is traditionally made with cracked bulghur wheat, but my wife’s father, George, has taken to making it with quinoa recently, and we love it this way. George who is a terrific cook in his own right, has a bit of a reputation for…how shall I say this….”experimenting” with recipes in the kitchen. Let’s just say that he has a liberal hand where ingredient substitutions are concerned, and there is well documented family lore of the successes celebrated, and failures endured as he has enjoyed his creative culinary journey over the years.
I am happy to report that this dish clearly lands in his success column, and while we weren’t working from his recipe per se (not even sure there is one), this creation is clearly inspired by George’s Tabbouleh. Serve it as part of a traditional middle-eastern mezze, or as we normally do, as a light salad side-dish with grilled chicken, fish or lamb.
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 large bunches flat-leaf parsley, large stems removed, leaves finely chopped (approx. 3 cups)
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1 1/2 - 2 bunches fresh mint (leaves cut into chiffonade, about 1 cup)
- 2 - 1 pint containers of globe or cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2/3 cup EVOO
- salt and pepper to taste
- Make a simple vinaigrette by slowly whisking the olive oil into the lemon juice, season to taste with salt and pepper and reserve.
- Rinse the quinoa and then place it in a pan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for 14–18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny pig-tail curl, and once it pops from the seed, the quinoa is done and should have a slight bite to it (like al dente pasta). Drain the quinoa of any excess water and toss into a large bowl with about 1/2 of the dressing, mix well to incorporate, and let cool to room temperature.
- De-stem the parsley, then wash and spin-dry in a salad spinner. Finely chop and reserve (you should have about 3 cups chopped).
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters or eighths (depending on size) and set aside.
- Cut the root end from the scallions, then separate the green from white portions. Slice the white portion in half lengthwise, then into thin half-moon shaped slivers. Cut the green parts into thin rings and reserve.
- De-stem the mint and cut the leaves into chiffonade (or thin strips), this should give you about 1 cup.
- Toss all of the prepped ingredients into the bowl with the quinoa, add the rest of the dressing and mix well. Adjust seasoning to taste and serve at room temperature.