Quinoa tabbouleh salad works great as a quick snack but it also serves well as an appetizer or salad for meals. In this recipe, the quinoa boosts the protein in tabbouleh while also making it gluten-free while maintaining all the bright, delicious flavors you expect in the dish!
Updated: This post was originally published in March 2020 and has been updated with new photos and additional content.
I love to make a batch of this salad for the week! It takes just minutes to make and will hold up in the fridge for several days. This way I know if I need something quick and satisfying, yet healthy, I've got a dish to fall back on.
It makes a delicious base for a lunch bowl along with some roasted red pepper and garlic hummus or baked tempeh. I love to alternate with this butternut squash quinoa salad depending on the season and my mood.
- 💚 Why You Will Love This Tabbouleh Salad Recipe
- 🤔 What is Quinoa Tabbouleh?
- 🛒 Ingredients
- 🌿 Substitutions and Variations
- ✅ How to Make Tabbouleh with Quinoa
- ❄️ How to Store
- 🍽️ How to Serve
- 🔪 Helpful Kitchen Tools & Gadgets
- 👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- ❓Recipe FAQs
- 🌎 Is Quinoa Sustainable?
- ➕ More Salad Recipes
- 📖 Recipe
- Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe
- 💬 Comments
💚 Why You Will Love This Tabbouleh Salad Recipe
- Simple ingredients and great flavor! It's a truly winning combination.
- Enjoy it as a side dish for all types of meals.
- Perfect to make ahead making it great for meal prep. It even tastes better the longer it sits.
🤔 What is Quinoa Tabbouleh?
Tabbouleh is a traditional Middle Eastern salad that originates from the Levant region of the Middle East. This area includes countries such as Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
It's a refreshing and flavorful salad typically consisting of finely chopped parsley, onions, and bulgur wheat with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing.
Tabbouleh is known for its vibrant green color and is often served as a side dish or appetizer. It's a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine and is enjoyed for its fresh and light qualities, especially during warmer months.
This quinoa tabbouleh recipe is inspired by the classic though I’m swapping out the bulgur wheat for quinoa making it gluten-free and adding some protein.
Tabbouleh is mostly made with fresh ingredients and just a couple of pantry staples! Everything is easy to find in most markets and grocery stores. Here's a look at what you need:
- Quinoa: You can use white quinoa or tri-colored quinoa for this quinoa recipe. They both work great and taste the same. The main difference is consistency. White quinoa is softer while the tri-colored quinoa has a bit more texture to it because red and black quinoa don't cook up as soft. This nuanced texture works great for salads.
- Green onions: The mild flavor of green onions works perfectly in this grain salad recipe.
- Red pepper: For color and flavor! You can also use orange or yellow but I don't recommend green because they aren't as sweet.
- Parsley: The key ingredient in tabbouleh. Make sure you are using flat-leaf parsley.
- Lemon: Freshly squeezed lemon juice is essential!
- Extra virgin olive oil: The naturally fruity flavor of olive oil works perfectly in this salad. Choose a high-quality variety, especially for salads.
🌿 Substitutions and Variations
Here are a few ways you can change up your tabbouleh salad to use up ingredients you have on hand or simply to change things up.
- Experiment with Different Grains: You can make it the classic way with bulgur or use couscous pasta or cooked barley, wheat berries, or farro. The possibilities are endless!
- Add More Veggies: Chopped cherry or grape tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber, olives, and red onion are a few ideas.
- Change Up the Herbs: You can try other refreshing combinations such as cilantro and lime or dill instead of parsley.
- Boost of Protein: Make it heartier by adding some cooked chickpeas, feta cheese, or lentils.
- Add a Sprinkle of Nuts: Pine nuts or walnuts work great!
- Add More Greens: Chop them up like the parsley. I love spinach and arugula with the lemon and olive oil dressing in this salad.
✅ How to Make Tabbouleh with Quinoa
Other than cooking the quinoa, this tabbouleh salad with quinoa recipe requires no cooking. It's also a perfect way to use leftover quinoa if you've got it! Here's a look at the main steps but you will find all the details in the recipe card.
- Cook your quinoa and then set it aside to cool.
- Prep the parsley. Cut the bottom half of the parsley stems off.
- Wash the parsley and then place it in a salad spinner to remove any excess water. Remove the leaves from the remaining stems.
- Chop the parsley in a food processor by pulsing a few times until the parsley is finely chopped. You can also chop it with a knife if you don't have a food processor.
- Prep the remaining vegetables and gather the remaining ingredients.
- Combine all the chopped ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir in the lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference.
❄️ How to Store
Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to four days. It's not recommended to freeze it since it contains fresh vegetables.
If you plan to carry it with you, portion it out ahead of time to make it easier to grab and pack up.
🍽️ How to Serve
Quinoa Tabbouleh tastes great on top of crackers or served with veggies as an appetizer. I especially love Mary's Gone Crackers - Seaweed & Black Sesame are a favorite!
🔪 Helpful Kitchen Tools & Gadgets
- Food processor: It's a lifesaver in this recipe since it chops parsley in seconds rather than minutes!
- Sharp knife: Every kitchen needs at least one good knife. It makes the prep for tabbouleh with quinoa, quick, easy, and safer.
- Salad spinner: This kitchen tool is the key to keeping your greens fresh longer which means LESS WASTE! It easily removes nearly all the water left on the greens and herbs after washing them which means they won't spoil as quickly.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- Cook your quinoa in advance to save some time and so it can cool down before mixing.
- Have quinoa left over? Use it to make black bean quinoa burgers!
- Use fresh lemon. After the parsley, it's the next top ingredient in this dish. Fresh lemon juice is 100% better than the stuff in a bottle.
- Let it stand a bit before serving. While you can serve it right away, letting it sit gives it time for all the flavors to meld.
Quinoa is a great addition to a plant-based diet because of its high protein. What's even better, it is a complete protein, as it contains all 9 essential amino acids. A few other good plant sources of protein include chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, barley, amaranth, and buckwheat. Most vegans have adapted to using these ingredients for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner.
Quinoa is good for building muscle mass. Bodybuilders and other athletes should eat lots of foods that contain all 9 essential amino acids.
There is a long list of the health benefits of parsley. It is known to help prevent cancer, manage diabetes, prevent osteoporosis, and provide relief from gastrointestinal issues, to name a few. Parsley is also known to boost the immune system. It is a "must have" ingredient on my shopping list and consistently added to most of my recipes for its health benefits and flavor.
🌎 Is Quinoa Sustainable?
Since 2008, quinoa has grown in popularity, especially among vegans. This increased demand has led to unsustainable farming methods in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, where most quinoa is developed.
Farmers trying to keep up with demand had no choice but to abandon their traditional methods of farming. Monocropping single-variety quinoa and other unsustainable practices became the only feasible way for farmers to grow crops.
Although the quinoa boom did not come without its adverse environmental and socio-economic side effects, this seedy grain superfood has the potential to reach sustainability status and help those affected by climate change in a sustainable way.
You can learn more about the facts behind quinoa and its potential to improve global food security in this article by Citizen Sustainable.
The best way to support the continued growth of quinoa is to buy Organic and Fair-trade Quinoa. It may be more expensive but paying the fair price for quinoa is a part of the solution. Diversify your quinoa diet and try a variety of sizes and colors to promote genetic diversity.
Quinoa is shrouded in humanitarian and environmental issues but this pseudo-cereal superfood has the potential to improve global food security.
➕ More Salad Recipes
If you made this recipe, please leave a star 🌟 rating on the recipe card right below! You can also drop a review in the comment section. Your feedback is appreciated! And don’t forget to tag @themindfulfork so we can see your creations.
Quinoa Tabbouleh Recipe
- 2 cups cooked quinoa cooled
- 2 green onions
- ½ red pepper
- 4 cups fresh flat parsley approximately two bunches
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Follow the package directions to cook quinoa (*see notes below). Quinoa usually cooks in about 15 minutes. Set it aside when done to cool.
- Cut the bottom half of the parsley stems. Place parsley in a salad spinner to clean. Remove the rest of the stems using a knife or plucking off the leaves individually. Chop the parsley using a sharp knife or a food processor. Chop (or pulse a few times) until the parsley leaves are finely chopped.
- Prep the other ingredients: clean, trim, and thinly slice the green onions. Be sure to include some of the light green parts along with the white part (bulb). Clean the red pepper, slice it in half, and gently remove the white part (pith), and any of the seeds. Cut into thin strips and small dice the red pepper. Measure the remaining ingredients: lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt.
- Mix all the chopped ingredients together in a bowl. Stir in the lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt. Add more sea salt, if desired, but keep in mind not to add too much if you will be serving the tabouleh with crackers.
- Cook your quinoa in advance to save some time and so it can cool down before mixing. To cook quinoa: Add 1 cup of dry quinoa and 1 ¾ cups of water to a pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the cover and use a fork to fluff it up. Measure out 2 cups of cooked quinoa and save the rest for another use.
- Have quinoa leftover? Use it to make black bean quinoa burgers!