I am amazed that there are people out there who still haven't tried quinoa (pronounced "keen-wha"). Quinoa is actually a seed, but is still considered a whole grain. It is high in protein and one of those super foods that have all 9 amino acids essential for health. It also has an abundance of fiber and iron—rounding out to make quinoa a very important part of your diet if you are vegan, vegetarian or just trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
It comes in white, red and black. Although the white is the most common, I prefer the red as it is nuttier in flavor and doesn't seem to clump together like the white does. I buy mine in bulk at my health food store, which is a heck of a lot cheaper than buying some name-brand box of it at the regular grocery store (and much less waste!).
Besides the fact that it is a nutritional power-house, the best part of quinoa is that it is so easy to prepare. It's essential to rinse it before cooking to wash off the bitter coating on the seeds. Since it is so small, make sure to use a fine mesh strainer instead of a traditional pasta strainer. Once you rinse and drain, using a two to one (two parts water to one part quinoa) ratio, bring the quinoa to a boil, cover, then lower to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes and it's done.
This time of the year, I have an abundance of tomatoes, parsley and mint in my garden. In a few weeks, I will also have cucumbers ripe for the picking, making this salad a perfect use of my bounty.
Traditional tabbouleh is made with bulgar wheat, an obvious no-no with celiacs or for someone trying to eat less gluten. People also make it with couscous, which is tiny pasta and also an obvious no-no for me. I can remember what it tastes like before I went gluten-free and actually prefer the consistency and the nuttiness of using quinoa. Tabbouleh is also made with a lot of olive oil. I created this recipe to be a much lighter version, with only a tablespoon of olive oil and with lime and orange juice instead. If you like yours a little oilier, you can certainly play with the liquid elements to your taste.
1 c. quinoa
2 c. water
1 c. diced tomato
1 c. diced english cucumber
1/4 c. diced red onion
1/4 c. diced kalamata olives
1/2 c. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
8-10 chopped fresh mint leaves
Juice of half a lime (or whole if small)
1/4 c. orange juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
Rinse and drain the dry quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Bring drained quinoa and water to a boil over medium heat, cover and lower heat to simmer for about 18-20 minutes or until all the water is cooked out. I like to use a fork to keep checking on this and fluff a little at the same time. Remove from heat, uncover and let cool to room temperature.
In the meantime, dice your tomato, cucumber, onion and olives and place in a large bowl. Once the quinoa is cooled, add to the bowl and top with the rest of the ingredients, using your fork to fluff and combine. Allow to sit for a few hours for the flavors to marry and serve at room temperature.
Nutritional Estimations: Calories 170. Total Fat 6 g. Cholesterol 0 mg. Sodium 286 mg. Potassium 116 mg. Total Carbs 24 g. Fiber 3 g. Sugars 3 g. Protein 5 g. Vitamin A 13%. Vitamin C 23%. Calcium 4%. Iron 9%