The first time I tried tabbouleh was at a party at DFJ’s friends’ house during our first few months of dating. It came from a deli container from Fred Meyer’s… not bad for a grocery store tabbouleh. I remember taking a mental note of the ingredients and told myself to make sure to try it at home. Well, it only took a year and a half later, starting a blog, and being a member of The Food Matters Project before I finally did it.
After a quick read of Mark Bittman’s original recipe, which you can find at Sara’s blog, I decided to do my own thing. Our refrigerator is teeming with vegetables from the farmer’s market two weeks ago and last week. Imagine that! I never learn… not a week goes by that I don’t make a stop at the market, even though we have more than we need. What can I say? I think I’m a fresh vegetable hoarder.
So, after some rummaging around in the vegetable crisper for things to throw in with the quinoa, these were the ingredients that made the cut: onion, mushrooms, eggplant, string beans, radishes, and bell pepper. Some herbs from my planter that went in are basil, lemon thyme, and mint. Plus some chives that I picked from my friend, Roslyn’s, garden after a barbeque on Saturday night.
For the quinoa, I used half red and half yellow (which is more common in stores). There’s probably not much of a difference, but I like red quinoa better… Maybe because it doesn’t have as much of that weird quinoaish smell that is pretty strong in the yellow quinoa. Please correct me if I’m totally just imagining this. Also, red quinoa is just so pretty, yes?
Before I share my take on the recipe, let me reiterate what Mark Bittman said about tabbouleh. It is traditionally made with bulgur, but he uses quinoa because it adds a “lively twist”. I agree with that, quinoa is fun! It has a nutty texture, a chewy crunch, and it pops! Bittman warns you to not be tempted to add more grain… the purpose of the grain in this dish is just for texture not for heft.
I love all the vegetables that went in this dish and how well everything came together. The pops of quinoa, the chewy eggplant bits, the juicy tomatoes, the sweet crunch of bell pepper, the fresh crunch of string beans, and the earthy radish. Everything is rounded up by the brightness that the lemon adds and the boost of freshness from the herbs. Delicious!
Summertime Quinoa Tabbouleh (Makes 4-6 servings)
¼ cup red quinoa¼ cup yellow quinoa
1 cup water
pinch of salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (juice from 1 large lemon)
freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
½ of large eggplant, diced (12.5 oz)
1 small onion, diced (6 oz)
2 large cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped (3.5 0z)
fistful of string beans, chopped (3.5 oz)
7 radishes, chopped (5 oz)
1 large red bell pepper, diced (7 oz)
½ tsp za’tar
½ tsp salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp fresh chives, minced
2 tbsp fresh basil, minced
3 sprigs fresh lemon thyme, minced
2 tbsp fresh mint, minced
Place quinoa and water in a small cooking pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. When the water is boiling, set the heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and move the pan away from the heat. Let the quinoa rest, covered, for at least 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are almost ready. Move the quinoa into a large glass bowl and add the olive oil, lemon juice, and pepper.
While the quinoa is cooking, get the vegetables ready, starting with the eggplant. Dice the eggplant, sprinkle liberally with salt and place in a colander to drain for about 30 minutes. This makes for a very flavorful eggplant. Now, prepare the rest of the vegetables.
Pour olive oil in a large pan, and turn the heat on to medium. When the oil is hot, cook the onions for 2 minutes, stirring every now and then. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes until soft. Add the eggplant and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring often. Mix in the radishes and string beans and cook for 2 minutes. Throw in the bell peppers and cook for 3 minutes. Season with za’tar, salt, and pepper. Carefully stir in the tomatoes and cook for a minute. Add the chives, basil, and lemon thyme and let cook for another minute. Turn off the heat.
Mix the vegetables with the quinoa in the large bowl and garnish with mint. Serve warm or at room temperature.
P.S. Don't forget to check out other FMP members' take on this week's recipe at our website. Thanks! Have a great week you guys!