Middle Eastern Feast(ern) part 2: Quinoa Tabouli

Have you ever used Quinoa? It’s a little grain that is a bit evil. I say evil because it’s a little tricky to work with. First of all, when I say it’s a little grain, I mean tiny! Normally tiny grains are nothing to worry about, but the second thing that makes quinoa evil is a coating of bitter-tasting chemicals called saponin. In order to get rid of the saponin, you are supposed to rinse the quinoa before cooking with it. Now, the jury seems to be out on how important this rinsing really is, but the instructions on the bag that I had purchased say to rinse it. I don’t have one of those convenient mesh sieves which would have made this whole rinsing thing a lot easier. The first time I tried to make quinoa I took some internet advice and used a coffee filter. This seemed like a good idea except the third thing that makes quinoa evil is its tendency to stick to everything! But… we’re getting a little off topic. The bottom line is quinoa is really healthy and really delicious, but just a little bit evil unless you have a nice mesh sieve or quinoa that is pre-rinsed.

The recipe I’ll be talking about in this post in quinoa tabouli, another treat from my pita and the best of the middle east cooking class. The recipe itself is actually quite simple aside from the quinoa. Here’s what you’ll need:

If you’re more of a list person than a visual one the ingredients are:

  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Lemon

Ok so back to the quinoa for a minute. Rinse 1/2 cup of quinoa in cold water and add to pot. In order to get rid of the excess moisture, you’ll want to dry toast the quinoa in the pot. What this means is turn the burner on and stir the quinoa around a bit until the residual moisture steams off. You’ll know it’s ready to go when it starts to stick to the bottom of the pot. Add 1 cup cold water, give it a quick stir, and cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. The next part is really important. Are you listening? KEEP THE QUINOA COVERED AND DON’T TOUCH IT! I mean it. Don’t stir it or anything. I accidentally stirred it in class and got yelled at. Apparently stirring it makes unfluffy, half cooked quinoa. Once all the water has dissolved, remove from heat and let it cool.

In the mean time, you’ll want to prepare the ingredients. This is as easy as seeding and chopping everything (cucumbers, tomatoes, 1/2 c mint, and 1 bunch parsley) and adding it to a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the cooled quinoa to bowl, mix and allow flavors to marry for 15 minutes. 

Here are some final images: