You will love this quinoa tabbouleh recipe for a unique version of traditional tabbouleh salad. This quinoa tabbouleh tastes fresh and nutty with a tangy lemon dressing. And it only takes 15 minutes to prepare!
I love Middle Eastern food, and tabbouleh is one of my favorite salads. So instead of making traditional tabbouleh with bulgar, I swapped the bulgar to make quinoa tabbouleh! This quinoa tabbouleh recipe is full of superfood quinoa and fresh vegetables tossed in a tangy lemony dressing.
Quinoa is a grain crop grown for its edible seeds. So, quinoa is a seed, not a grain, as many believe.
In other words, it is a seed that is prepared and eaten similarly to a grain. There are many types of quinoa, including red, black, and white. Red is my favorite because of its vibrant color.
Here is the nutrient breakdown for 1 cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa:
- Calories: 222
- Protein: 8 grams
- Fat: 3.55 grams
- Carbohydrates: 39 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Folate: 19% of the daily value (DV)
- Vitamin B6: 13% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 8% of the DV
- Copper: 39% of the DV
- Iron: 15% of the DV
- Zinc: 18% of the DV
- Manganese: 51% of the DV
- Magnesium: 28% of the DV
- Potassium: 7% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 22% of the DV
Quinoa is a good source of several essential nutrients, including folate, magnesium, zinc, and iron.
- Cooked Quinoa: Red quinoa (which takes on a brownish hue when cooked) has a richer taste, slightly chewier and heartier texture, and somewhat nuttier flavor than white quinoa. It's often the quinoa of choice for cold salads as it holds its shape better during cooking. For an easy guide to cooking quinoa, check out How to Cook quinoa.
- Parsley: Parsley is a highlight of traditional tabbouleh salad. I used flat parsley.
- Cucumbers: I prefer English cucumbers because they contain fewer seeds; thus, they are less watery, which keeps salads fresher.
- Green Onions: Both the leaves and bulb of green onions are edible and have a mild, gentle flavor compared to regular onions
- Mint: I love mint added to tabbouleh salad because it brings freshness and enhances the taste of the parsley.
- Kalamata Olives: Although olives are not traditionally included in a traditional tabbouleh salad, I love the salty addition.
- Lemon Juice and Zest: I juiced and zested the lemon for additional lemon flavor.
- Maple Syrup: The maple syrup sweetens the red wine vinegar and lemon juice taste.
- Red Wine Vinegar: Red wine vinegar gives the quinoa tabbouleh salad a bright freshness and a bit of a tanginess.
- Salt/Pepper: A little salt and pepper bring out the natural flavors in the fresh vegetables.
Salad Ingredient Substitutions
- Choose white or black quinoa instead of red quinoa.
- Shallots or white onions are often substitutes for green onions. Or, try spring onions.
- Omit the kalamata olives, or use black olives instead.
- Use bottled lemon juice instead of fresh lemon. And then, add a little more lemon juice to compensate for the lemon zest.
- Try date syrup or agave nectar as an alternative to maple syrup.
- If you don't have any red wine vinegar, swap it out with balsamic vinegar.
Making the Salad
Since quinoa tabbouleh is a cold salad, cook the quinoa and put it in the refrigerator to chill. In the meantime, chop the vegetables into bite-sized pieces.
Then, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, red wine vinegar, maple syrup and salt and pepper.
Place the chilled quinoa in the base of a bowl and add all teh other ingredients. Pour the dressing over the top of the ingredients, and toss.
Place the covered salad into the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Tabbouleh is a healthy, vegan food that has no cholesterol, is low in fat, and is high in fiber, vitamins, and much more. Plus, it makes great use of the backyard gardener's abundance of parsley, mint, tomatoes, and cucumbers. This vegan dish is gluten-free by substituting quinoa for bulgur wheat.
Quinoa contains more protein than bulgur, but bulgur offers more fiber. So, they are both healthy. However, if you are looking for a gluten-free option, quinoa is the right choice.
Quinoa is rich in both fiber and protein, contains a much higher amount of other nutrients, and has a similar fluffy texture to rice. A cup of quinoa contains twice more protein and about 5 g more fiber than white rice. Quinoa contains fewer calories and carbohydrates than white rice.
- Cook the quinoa ahead of time and allow it to cool completely before making the salad.
- For quicker results, put the cooked quinoa in the refrigerator while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Choose English cucumbers or Persian cucumbers because they have fewer seeds than regular cucumbers.
- If you only have regular cucumbers, cut the cucumbers in half and use a spoon to remove the seeds by scraping the seeds from the center. This prevents the quinoa from getting soggy.
- I used grape tomatoes because they are firmer and have fewer seeds.
- For the best results, refrigerate the quinoa tabbouleh for about an hour, so the flavors enhance.
- Add a little tofu feta cheese for an added bonus.
You will love this quinoa tabbouleh for a different take on traditional tabbouleh! This is a great lunch recipe or a quick weeknight meal.
Other Great Vegan Salads
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- 1 ½ cups red quinoa or quinoa of choice.
- 2 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
Tabbouleh Salad Ingredients
- ¾ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ¾ cup fresh mint, chopped
- 1 ½ cups English cucumbers, cut in half, then sliced into quarters (bite-sized pieces).
- 1 ½ cups grape tomatoes cut in halves
- ½ cup Kalamata olives, chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced thin
- ½ cup tofu feta cheese (optional)
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Combine water, salt and quinoa into a sauce pan.
- Bring contents of the pan to a boil, cover, and reduce to simer.
- Cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove from the heat source and keep the pan covered for an additoanl 5 minutes.
- Allow the quinoa to cool completely, or to expedite the process, transfer the cooked quinoa to a refrigerator to cool.
Preparing the Salad Ingredients
- Cut all the vegetables.
- In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes (optional). Whisk together.
- Place the cold quinoa into a large bowl.
- Add all the salad ingredients.
- Pour the dressing over the top.
- Toss to combine.
- Add some tofu feta cheese (optonal)
- Make the quinoa ahead of time, so it has time to cool in the refrigerator.
- Use English or Persian cucumbers, which contain fewer seeds to prevent a soggy salad.
- Grape tomatoes also have fewer seeds, which again helps to keep the salad fresher longer.
- Add tofu feta cheese for an extra protein addition to the salad.
- Or, try adding a can of chickpeas, which also goes very well with the flavors in teh salad.
- The salad will last, dressed, in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Hi! My name is Kathy, I am a retired high school English teacher & vegan enthusiast and blogger. My entire blog is fully plant-based vegan. I truly believe what we eat & how we live determines our health & the preservation of our planet! 🙂