Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe

Father’s Day is this Sunday and we are getting ready to celebrate the man of the house.  I have already begun planning my menu, which no doubt will involve some grilling since we all know that’s a man’s favorite thing to do.  If my husband had his way, the meal would consist of cheeseburgers, hot dogs, grilled corn and ice cream sandwiches.  And the reason my husband has been able to maintain his girlish figure all these years is because he is not in charge of meals.  Before you accuse me of being no fun whatsoever, please know that grass-fed burgers with raw cheddar cheese and Applegate Farms organic grass-fed hot dogs will be in the house.  Thankfully several people in our family like my turkey burgers enough that I will be making a batch of those.  But more importantly, what am I going to eat?

Did I really find a way to make Father’s Day all about me?  No, no, this will be Dad’s day, but it’s my job to make sure there’s a little balance in the meal and protein for the non-hot dog eaters.  Like me.  When I think about one of my favorite things to make for a backyard barbecue, something versatile enough to complement anything, delicious in its own right, lovely to look at and healthful enough that you can almost justify eating all that meat, quinoa tabbouleh immediately comes to mind.  Just look at it!  Light and bouncy quinoa mixed with sweet cherry tomatoes (use whatever colors you like), crunchy cucumber and all those fresh herbs.  Who wouldn’t want to eat it?  Don’t answer that, because I know what you’re thinking.  I took this salad to my friend Karen and Jonathan’s house the other day for a barbecue and every man there not only tried the quinoa, but finished every little grain.

Quinoa works really well as a substitute for tabbouleh’s traditional bulgar wheat.  (Like you really need to eat more gluten.)  You can even mix different colors of quinoa and different colors of tomatoes.  When I brought it to Karen’s, the quinoa was still too warm to mix with all the vegetables and herbs so I kept that in a separate container and brought a little glass jar with the lemon juice, olive oil and salt.  Everything else was prepared ahead and kept in a serving bowl.  Before we sat down to eat, I mixed the quinoa with the vegetables and herbs and poured in the dressing.  Super easy, really nutritious and you know what?  Real men don’t eat quiche, but they do eat quinoa!


Quinoa Tabbouleh
Serves: serves 6 as a side dish
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • Sea salt
  • 2 cups diced unpeeled Persian or Japanese cucumber (or cucumber with a tasty skin)
  • 2 cups halved or quartered cherry tomatoes
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¾ cup finely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or as much as you can chop -- the more, the better!
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
  • ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ⅓ cup unrefined, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Rinse quinoa in a bowl with water or place quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until water runs clear. Transfer to a saucepan and add a healthy pinch of sea salt and 1 ¾ cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit covered for 10 minutes.
  2. Transfer quinoa to a serving bowl and allow to cool. Fluff with a fork periodically.
  3. Combine cooled quinoa and remaining ingredients plus 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt. Toss to mix well. Taste for seasoning.



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  1. What are your thoughts about lectins?

    • They’re in a lot of really healthy foods. Most people I know do fine eating lectins. SPecifically legumes which are full of lectins have been studied and proven to be a dietary predictor of longevity across different ethnicities. I think a lectin-free diet is worth a try if you’ve tried everything else and nothing helps.

  2. I made this today for a lunch I was having with some other moms. Perfection! I love quinoa so I could have eaten the entire bowl. (I did restrain myself). The flavors were so simple and delicious. I am making this again on Sunday for my sister’s birthday. Thank you!

  3. hi pamela,
    i love this recipe, but have always eaten it the day i made it.
    will it still be good, the following day?

    • Yes, it’s still good the following day, but the flavors aren’t as sharp, specifically the lemon juice, and I am not a huge fan of tomatoes after they have been refrigerated. Otherwise, let it come to room temp (as opposed to eating it cold out of the fridge) and it will be delicious.

  4. can I add some sort of dressing? any suggestions?


    • SO GLAD! LOVE IT TOO! =)

  6. Never mind – I found my answer in your text above… Looking forward to making this Saturday!

    • Great~ you’ll love it. I actually prefer it at room temp.

      • It was such a hit! My Lebanese father-in-law loved it. Thank you for another great recipe. 🙂

        • That’s great, Kelly! Quinoa tabbouleh is one of my staples for entertaining. I’m happy to hear it worked well for you. 🙂

  7. Can you make this the day before? Is it best at room temperature?

  8. Well, Dad really enjoyed the tabbouleh even having second helpings! With all the fresh herbs from our garden, it was so delicious! This will be a summertime staple!

  9. Everyone loved this! I also added chopped mint and cooked edamame for crunch. So delicious!

    • Oooh — edamame. Thanks for the great idea! I love lots of crunch with my quinoa.

  10. I am going to make this Sunday! It sounds really tasty- hopefully my father and brothers enjoy it! With all the meat being barbequed, a tasty and healthy side is needed!

    • That’s the idea! I have a feeling they’ll enjoy it even if it is good for them!

  11. Although Dad hasn’t come around to quinoa in a big way, this dish will be on the menu over the weekend to convince him otherwise. Can’t wait to have it!

    • This is a great one to try! Also, you can increase the ratio of veggies and herbs to quinoa.

  12. I’m adding this to my menu on Sunday!! Thanks!

    • Your hubby will love it!

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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