Lately I’ve been in pursuit of economical meals that are nutritionally balanced, offer a variety of flavors, and easy to prepare. Middle Eastern dishes that use whole, fresh foods and pungent spices fit the bill perfectly.
Quinoa offered a fabulous spin on a traditional tabouleh salad by replacing the typical couscous or bulgar as the grain. In an ongoing effort to save money and prevent waste, I used a combination of vegetables from my refrigerator drawer.
To my delight, the vegetables on hand comprised a rainbow of colors: purple cabbage, celery, red onion, Italian parsley, fresh mint, seeded bits of tomato, minced cucumber. I enhanced this colorful medley with crumbles of feta cheese and toasted almond slivers.
A fresh and light dressing using 1 part olive oil to 3 parts fresh lemon juice with a pinch of sea salt and a couple of grinds of pepper perked up the mixture.
After a good tossing, it rested in the ‘fridge for about an hour—about the same time it took to set the table, enjoy a glass of wine and prepare the protein.
Skewered kofta kebabs complemented our Quinoa Tabouleh perfectly, accompanied by a Cucumber-Mint Tzatziki Sauce, to round out the meal for dinner although the tabouleh alone makes a fine lunch or vegetarian dinner.
Another twist adding fresh or leftover chopped meat, poultry, fish or tofu turns this into a healthful and balanced meal-in-one for lunch or dinner.
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/3 cup thinly sliced purple cabbage
1 celery stalk, sliced
½ red onion, chopped coarsely
½ cup Italian parsley, chopped
¼ cup mint, sliced thinly
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped finely
½ Kirby cucumber, finely diced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
¼ cup toasted, slivered almonds
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in 1 cup quinoa. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 10-12 minutes until water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, fluff the quinoa, cover again and let sit another 15 minutes.
Move the grain to a serving bowl, add in the vegetables and nuts and stir. Reserve the feta until just prior to serving. Dress the tabouleh with the olive oil/lemon mixture. Stir well, cover and let it rest in the refrigerator for an hour before serving. Add the feta, stirring to mix and remix the tabouleh, just prior to serving.
Remember this recipe was based on whatever I had on hand in my refrigerator. Your vegetables may be different and widely varied so use your imagination and make your own signature tabouleh in the process!
(This can be served cold or at room temperature)