You just never know which food is going to be the “big hit” at a party or an event. I guess I wasn’t really giving the Quinoa Tabbouleh the respect it deserved! Lesson learned! I eat this side dish (sometimes as a main course) so often that I forget how amazing it is and how unfamiliar the combination of ingredients might be to some Americans. My dad worked with a very sweet women named Lidia in for a long time in Las Vegas, NV. She was originally from the Middle East and she used to just knock his socks off with her recipes. He loved how simple and fresh her food was, and he encouraged her to make her family recipes for their lunch customers. Needless to say, her Tabbouleh was a “big hit” every time. I never did get my hands on her personal recipe, but I love to cook from memory. So I’m happy to share this delicious version with you!
You will need:
1 cup quinoa
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 cup good olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts (5 scallions)
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (2 bunches)
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and medium-diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved through the stem
2 cups medium-diced feta (8 ounces)
1. Pour 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa and 1 teaspoon of salt, lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, until the grains are tender and open (they'll have little curly tails).
2. Drain, place in a bowl and immediately add the lemon juice, olive oil and 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
3. In a large bowl, combine the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt* and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
4. Add the quinoa and mix well. Carefully fold in the feta and taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.
Make-Ahead Plan: Prepare the salad without the feta, cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Fold in the feta and serve.
For Vegans: Serve the feta on the side.
Adapted from Ina Garten