Quinoa Tabbouleh is a fun spin on a classic tabbouleh salad! I’ve swapped out traditional Tabbouleh for quinoa, which makes this dish gluten-free and adds a kick of protein. I’ve also added in spinach, for an extra pop of nutrition. This gluten-free and vegan recipe is the perfect make-ahead side, and also works great for a light lunch. For those with special diets, I’ve included low carb and oil-free versions.
I grew up in Florida with parents that were very much Southern.
In a culinary sense, my life was very sheltered.
Dinners were dishes like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Or Pot Roast with carrots and potatoes.
About the most ethnic food ever got around our house was lasagna made with Prego.
There were so many things I never ate as a child. Asparagus, beets, avocados, and sauerkraut are a few things that come to mind.
I was in my 20’s before I had Chinese or Thai food for the first time and it was even later that I had Middle Eastern Food.
Exception: We had a Gyro place in the one mall in the town I grew up in. I loved that place, and to this day, Gyros are one of my favorite foods. (Though these days I prefer getting them from a Greek Restaurant rather than a food court. A good gyro can be hard to find.)
I guess that may be why I’m so comfortable making traditional ethnic food…well, less traditional.
Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern dish that is typically made with bulgur.
(There are a lot of variations of tabbouleh, but most all contain bulgur wheat.)
A less traditional but still common alternative is to make it with couscous.
It can be challenging to find gluten-free couscous (and obviously bulgur is not gluten-free).
So, to make this work for me I’ve switched things up by using quinoa, which not only makes this dish gluten-free but also adds a boost of protein. I’ve also added spinach for an added nutritional boost. If you want to keep things more traditional, feel free to leave the greens off and off and add more parsley and mint. And, if tradition is what you have in mind, you may also want to skip the roasted red pepper and tamari! (But I love both here.)
To mix this Quinoa Tabbouleh recipe up even more, I’ve added greens (I used power greens, but I’ve made this with spinach), roasted red pepper, and a touch of gluten-free tamari.
How to Make Quinoa Tabbouleh
1. If you are making this recipe oil-free, start by combining chia seeds and warm water. Stir well, and allow to sit for 10 minutes, until a gel forms.
2. In a food processor, combine spinach, mint, and parsley. Pulse until chopped. (If you don’t have a food processor, chopping by hand works too!)
3. Half the tomatoes, and chop the cucumber and roasted red pepper.
4. Add in garlic, lemon juice, tamari and either olive oil or chia gel. Pulse until well combined.
5. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, tomatoes, cucumber, and roasted red pepper.
6. Top with the spinach and herb mixture and stir until well combined.
The result is a bright, fresh and flavorful dish that also happens to be quite versatile.
It is a great side dish and also makes a nice vegan lunch served with hummus and pita chips. Today I enjoyed it with fresh spinach and sprouts in a gluten-free wrap!
Variations for This Recipe:
- Add in 2 tablespoons tomato paste and 1 tablespoon harissa for a Turkish Tabbouleh.
- If quinoa isn’t your thing, try substitute brown rice or gluten-free couscous.
- Add 1 cup of chickpeas for an extra punch of protein and fiber.
- To make this recipe low-carb and keto friendly, use cauliflower rice in place of the quinoa. If you are trying to keep your carb count very low, reduce the tomatoes to 1 cup.
- To make this recipe soy free, omit the tamari and use coconut aminos.
- To make this recipe oil-free, follow the instruction #1 to use chia gel in place of oil.
Tips for Making Quinoa Tabbouleh:
- This Quinoa Tabbouleh is best after it has sat for a few hours to allow the flavors to combine.
- It is best served within 5 days.
What Goes Well with Quinoa Tabbouleh?
- This recipe is excellent served with Lamb Kebabs or Lamb Meatballs.
- Use as a base for a bowl! I love it as the base for a Gyro Bowl.
- Serve as a side dish for Falafel.
- Serve as a side dish for Greek Meatballs.
Recommended Tools to Make Quinoa Tabbouleh:
Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe
Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe
- 5 cups spinach or Power Greens Blend
- 1/2 cup fresh mint
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons gluten free tamari
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil OR ½ tablespoon chia seeds + ¼ cup water
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 cups grape tomatoes halved
- ½ cucumber peeled and chopped
- 1 roasted red pepper chopped
- If using chia gel in place of oil, combine chia seeds and water and stir well. Set aside for 10 minutes, or until a gel forms.
- Combine spinach, mint and parsley in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add in garlic, lemon juice, soy sauce or tamari, and olive oil or chia gel and pulse a few more times until well combined.
- In a large bowl combine quinoa, grape tomatoes, cucumber and roasted red pepper. Top with spinach mixture and stir until combined.