This tabouli salad has quinoa instead of bulgur, making it a fantastic gluten free summer salad! Make this fresh, healthy meal in just 20 minutes.
Hello friends! Hello summer salads on repeat. Yes, we’re officially in the no cool season. Growing up in Texas, we weren’t allowed to turn on the oven during the summer with it being 100+F outside and 90% humidity. Kidding. Kinda. But in all seriousness wholesome refreshing COOL salads is where it’s at. Which is why today, I bring you a new vegetarian favorite. Quinoa Tabouli Salad! It’s cool. It’s zippy. It’s zesty. It’s everything you ever wanted in a salad. And you can make it ahead of time!
Before we chat “what is tabouli salad?” let’s talk about substitutes. Keto friends, you can make this keto friendly by using cauliflower rice or broccoli rice! I’ve made this with broccoli rice several times. I even have a recipe in my cookbook for broccoli rice tabouli. Also, you can add in chicken, hard boiled eggs, salmon, or tofu for extra protein!
Tabbouleh or tabouli salad?
This has to be one of the most refreshing, cleansing salads of a lifetime! Even my husband requests it. Technically, because we’re using quinoa rather than bulgur wheat, it is not a traditional tabouli recipe. Although, the technique and flavors are still the same; the difference is that ours is gluten free! Oh, and vegan friendly.
Here’s what I learned about tabbouleh:
- First, tabbouleh is sometimes spelled tabouli, especially here in the U.S. of A.
- This vibrant salad is usually served along with mezza (a host of appetizers). But sometimes, I like to make it a complete meal by adding more protein. Things like feta cheese, or even tuna or salmon. SO GOOD!
- Also, tabouli is more parsley than grain. So technically, it’s a parsley salad versus a grain salad. Authentic tabbouleh is greener, contains more tomatoes, and has less bulgur wheat.
Not only is tabouli delicious, but it’s also quite healthy!
One serving of quinoa tabouli salad will provide your body with fiber, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. Quinoa is high in plant based protein and one of the few “pseudo” grains that contain all 9 essential amino acids.
Plus, fresh parsley and tomatoes both have antioxidant properties, and the lycopene in tomatoes can help to keep your heart healthy.
Quinoa tabouli ingredients
The key to creating a delicious quinoa salad, whether it’s this one or something like BBQ Tempeh Vegan Quinoa Salad, is to use fresh, FLAVORFUL ingredients.
There’s no argument that quinoa is healthy, but it doesn’t have much flavor on its own. That’s the magic of this gluten free tabouli recipe; the quinoa has so much flavor from fresh herbs, you won’t miss the bulgur at all!
Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- whole garlic cloves
- fresh lemon juice (2 lemons should be plenty)
- flat leaf parsley (Italian parsley) – avoid using curly parsley; it’s really meant for garnishing plates. If you can’t find any Italian parsley, you can use cilantro
- fresh mint leaves – choose mint leaves without brown spots or blemishes
- red or yellow cherry tomatoes – grape tomatoes are another option. Basically, any tomato that is easy to finely chop.
- scallions (green onions)
- pitted Kalamata olives – Kalamata are Greek olives; they have a LOT of flavor, much more so than traditional green or black olives.
- Finely ground sea salt and cracked black pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil – this is for drizzling over the salad, so buy the best quality olive oil you can afford. Avocado oil would be delicious as well.
- Optional toppings – crumbled feta or yogurt cheese
How to make tabouli salad
- Rinse and cook the quinoa.
For instructions, see my quinoa 101 post or the recipe notes below.
- Combine quinoa with other salad ingredients.
After cooking the quinoa, fluff it with a fork, then transfer it to a large bowl with the rest of the salad ingredients EXCEPT for the oil and cheese, then toss to combine.
- Leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
During this time, the quinoa will continue to absorb liquid and swell. If you want to make the salad ahead, be sure to leave out the olives, lemon, and olive oil. Place tomatoes on the very bottom of the bowl, then quinoa, salt, parsley and mint. Add the lemon, garlic, olive oil, and olives 30 minutes to an 1 hour before serving . Toss and leave it at room temperature. This prevents the tomatoes from getting to soft and acidic.
- Garnish and serve.
Add the olive oil, toss to combine, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Top with extra lemon and optional cheese topping (ie. feta).
Recipe tips and notes
- Let the salad sit at room temperature versus in the fridge. As a result, the taste will be a bit brighter.
- Chilled tomatoes can dampen the taste. That being said, if you want to make this ahead of time, I suggest adding the tomatoes last, just before serving.
OTHER DELICIOUS QUINOA RECIPESPrint
I’m sure many of you have your favorite Greek style salad and/or your go-to summer salad recipe!Do SHARE! The more the merrier, am I right?!