No, I didn't sneeze. It's food, I promise.
TABBOULEH! Know it? It's a Middle Eastern grain salad that's been around for eons upon ages, and typically it's not one of my favourite foods. Nothing against Middle Eastern food, of course--in fact I love it--but tabbouleh usually has a consistency that is not very pleasing to my tongue. With this recipe so chock full of fresh veggies and salty goodness, though, we've got zero problems.
And yes yes I know. Quinoa (KEEN-wah, if you haven't heard the yuppies talking about it as the next big health craze for the last 5 years) is not the traditional grain to use in tabbouleh. TOO BAD; that's what I had in my fridge and I like it better than bulgur anyway because it's got more protein per serving: 8 grams per cooked cup versus bulgur's 6. This is also an excellent swap if you're gluten-free since quinoa is technically a seed, not a wheat product.
I am *also* aware that traditional tabbouleh does not contain carrots, olives, or feta cheese, but if you're going to say no to those types of things I'm not sure I want to be friends with you anyway.
So, onwards we go to this strangely addictive light vegetarian lunch or dinner option (oooorrrr just add some grilled chicken to blow that whole vegetarian thing out of the water)!
serves two as a full salad for lunch or dinner; add grilled chicken if you want it a bit more filling
WHAT YOU NEED
1 1/2-2 cups cooked quinoa (I used tri-colour since that's what I had)
2 Persian cucumbers, diced small (Persian cukes are the little wee ones packaged in a tray and covered with plastic wrap; I like them because they're super crunchy with minimal seeds but feel free to use an English hothouse cucumber--the super long ones wrapped in cling wrap--as well. Regular cucumbers don't have the kind of crunch you want here.)
1 large beefsteak tomato or 2-3 smaller Roma tomatoes, diced
2 scallions, finely diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
~1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped (Why are you bothering to measure a salad? Just take a "1/3 cup" to mean "a handful.")
~1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled (or however much you want; I never let people tell me how much cheese I should or should not be eating dammit)
8-10 leaves fresh mint, finely chopped (Don't cheap out and use dried herbs! In this salad it's a total loss.)
8-10 leaves fresh Italian flat parsley, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced
Juice of 1 small lemon, pulp and seeds strained out
~1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
WHAT YOU DO
1. In a large bowl, toss together the cooked quinoa, diced cucumbers, diced tomatoes, scallions, carrots, olives, cheese, mint, and parsley. Then in a separate small bowl whisk up the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper until well combined to become your dressing.
2. Toss the salad with your dressing (add a bit more olive oil if it looks too dry), and leave it to chill out in the fridge for 15-20 minutes.
As I said, this dish is actually super addictive. I wasn’t a huge fan of it the first time I ate it, but after it sat in the fridge for an hour I had another serving, and the more I ate it the more I wanted to eat more of it until I was essentially just shoveling it into my piehole, grains and parsley leaves flying everywhere. I are sexy.