A longtime friend came to visit over the 4th and, always trying to be a gracious hostess, I wanted to make some fun dishes for us all to enjoy. The challenge? She became a vegan several years ago which eliminated all meat (including poultry and fish, for the most part) and all dairy (including butter and eggs, for the most part). However, she did say she would eat fresh, local fish caught that day, and would also allow a little Parmesan in a dish. She also knew I had my heart set on making a blueberry crostata and conceded that butter is always a part of a really good pastry crust.
For days before her arrival, I combed all of my cookbooks trying to find recipes that would provide a variety of flavors, textures, and colors. Knowing that quinoa is considered a "superfood" because it has more protein than most grains, I wanted to find a recipe full of flavor and I did. Reading this recipe, I thought it would be quite dull but, in fact, it's quite the opposite. All those herbs 2 cups to be exact, one of chopped mint and the other of chopped parsley, make this a salad packed with flavor, and the quinoa, cucumbers and scallions add their crunch. This is going to be my "go to" salad recipe for any gathering this summer.
Quinoa Tabbouleh with or without Feta
1 cup quinoa
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
¼ cup good olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts (5 scallions)
1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (2 bunches)
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and medium-diced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved through the stem
2 cups medium-diced feta (8 ounces)
- Pour 2 cups of water into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa and 1 teaspoon of salt, lower the heat, and simmer covered for 15 minutes, until the grains are tender and open (they'll have little curly tails).
- Drain, place in a bowl, and immediately add the lemon juice, olive oil, and 1½ teaspoons of salt.
- In a large bowl, combine the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.
- Add the quinoa and mix well.
- Carefully fold in the feta (if using) and taste for seasonings. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.
Thank goodness for Ina Garten and Make It Ahead.