Quinoa tabbouleh salad with lemon dressing
Health Recipes Mediterranean Mid-East/Mediterranean Middle Eastern Salads Vegetables

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Picture this: a dish that’s like a marriage between the hearty goodness of ancient grains and the crisp, fresh vibes of a classic salad, all topped off with a zesty lemon twist. Sounds delicious, right? Well, that’s exactly what you get with quinoa tabbouleh salad with lemon dressing — a modern take on traditional flavors that has recently caused a culinary sensation.

Imagine bringing together the goodness of quinoa from the Andean region, celebrated for its health perks, and the timeless delight of tabbouleh, a Levantine favorite gracing Mediterranean tables for ages. It’s like a history lesson on a plate, with a side of nutrition!

Getting to Know Quinoa

So, what’s the deal with quinoa? Well, it’s often hailed as the “gold of the Incas,” and for good reason! This tiny seed packs a serious nutritional punch. It’s like the superhero of the seed world, boasting complete proteins, which means it’s got all nine essential amino acids your body needs. Plus, it’s loaded with magnesium, riboflavin, and fiber, making it a rockstar when it comes to health benefits. And guess what? It’s gluten-free too! So, if you’re ditching gluten, quinoa’s got your back, especially when you’re craving some tabbouleh goodness.

Why Quinoa Rocks in Tabbouleh

Now, let’s talk about why quinoa is the MVP of tabbouleh. First off, it’s gluten-free, so you need not worry if you are avoiding gluten. Also, quinoa brings some serious protein power to the table. So, if you’re plant-based or just looking to up your protein game, quinoa
tabbouleh is where it’s at. Plus, its texture holds up like a champ, even when drenched in that tangy lemon dressing. It fights off sogginess and keeps things fresh and flavorful. And get this, you can pair it with pretty much anything — whether you’re team tofu, chickpeas, or meat, quinoa tabbouleh plays well with others, elevating the dish to new
heights of deliciousness.

Nutritional Highlights of Quinoa:

ProteinSupports muscle growth and repair
Amino AcidsEssential for metabolic processes
FiberPromotes digestive health
MagnesiumAids in energy production and metabolism
Riboflavin (B2)Key for energy metabolism in the brain
PhytonutrientsMay have anti-inflammatory benefits

Let’s Whip Up Some Quinoa Tabbouleh

Alright, let’s get working! First up, we’ve got to cook our quinoa to perfection. Rinse it off to rid of any bitterness, then let it simmer away until it’s light and fluffy. While that’s
cooling down, chop some fresh herbs, juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumber, and zesty green onions. Whisk together a tangy lemon dressing with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, then toss everything together until it’s coated in that deliciousness. Pop it in the fridge for about an hour to let the flavors mingle, then dig in! It’s like a party in your mouth, with every bite bursting with freshness and flavor.

Ingredients List:

  • Cooked quinoa
  • Fresh parsley (curly parsley or flat-leaf parsley)
  • Fresh mint
  • English cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes or fresh tomatoes
  • Green onions or scallions
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Minced garlic
  • Salt and black pepper

Method: How to Make Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Step 1: Begin by cooking the quinoa to perfection.

You’ll need roughly 2 1/2 to 3 cups of cooked quinoa for the salad. Rinse 1 cup of uncooked quinoa under cold water to remove the bitter flavor. Then, combine the rinsed quinoa in a saucepan with double the amount of water – that’s 2 cups of water for 1 cup of quinoa. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Allow the quinoa to cook for 8-10 minutes or until it becomes translucent and the water is absorbed. Always check the package for specific cooking times as they can vary.

Remove the quinoa from heat but don’t rush to serve it just yet — let it rest with the lid on for 15 minutes. This rest period allows the quinoa to cool and fluff up as the steam departs. For even cooling, transfer the cooked quinoa to a large-rimmed baking sheet and spread it out. Letting the quinoa stand at room temperature ensures the perfect consistency for adding to your refreshing salad.

Quinoa cooked in a pan

Step 2: Preparing the Vegetables

Chop 2 cups of fresh parsley — flat-leaf or curly, depending on your preference — aiming for a finely minced texture reminiscent of the traditional tabbouleh. Gather your other vegetables: dice cucumbers, tomatoes, and scallions, picking tasty cucumber and ripe cherry tomatoes or fresh tomatoes for the best flavor. For an authentic tabbouleh feel, finely chop these ingredients so they meld nicely with the quinoa and herbs.

cooked quinoa and vegetable ingredients for tabbouleh

Step 3: Mixing the Dressing

Now, whisk together your simple yet delicious lemon olive oil vinaigrette. In a small bowl, combine freshly squeezed lemon juice — you’ll need about 3 tablespoons — with a good pour of extra virgin olive oil, a quarter teaspoon of Dijon mustard for some tang, and a dab of honey or maple syrup if you’re leaning vegan. Whisk these ingredients until they emulsify into a zesty dressing that will bring your Quinoa Tabbouleh to life.

The dressing requires salt and black pepper to taste; it’s this final touch that personalizes the seasoning to your palate — taste as you go and adjust accordingly. This lemony concoction is crucial for bringing out the vibrant flavors of the fresh vegetables and herby punch from the parsley and mint.

Lemon dressing for quinoa tabbouleh salad

Step 4: Combining all the Ingredients

In a large bowl, introduce your now-cooled quinoa to the chopped veggies. Include cucumber, cherry tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, green onions, and generous amounts of fresh parsley and fresh mint. Pour the fragrant, tangy lemon dressing over the quinoa and vegetables and blend until everything is lightly coated.

Sprinkle your tabbouleh with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, then toss again to distribute the seasoning evenly.

If time allows, let the salad rest in the fridge before serving. This resting period can range from a few minutes to several hours — overnight even — which allows the flavors to deepen and meld together beautifully. Just remember if you have leftover dressing or plan to make extra for drizzling, keep it separate and chill it alongside the airtight container housing your salad.

This methodical preparation ensures your Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad is ready to be savored as a healthy, gluten-free, and low-net carb light meal or side dish that honors its Eastern roots while embracing a wholesome, modern twist. Enjoy!

Pre-mixing quinoa and vegetables for tabbouleh

Get Creative with Your Quinoa Tabbouleh

Feeling adventurous? Mix things up with some feta cheese for creaminess
or toss in some chickpeas for extra protein. Want to add an Italian twist? Whip up a basil pesto vinaigrette and drizzle it over your salad. And if you’re feeling fancy, serve it with some grilled chicken or lamb for a meal that’s sure to impress. The options are endless, so
get creative and make it your own!

Quinoa tabbouleh salad with lemon dressing

Tips and Tricks for Making the Perfect Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

To ensure the salad is truly exemplary, consider these essential tips and tricks.

Choosing and Preparing Fresh Ingredients

Opt for cherry tomatoes for their intense sweetness and juicy texture which complements the grain and herbs well. Freshness is crucial, so select ripe but firm tomatoes to avoid a soggy salad.

A generous handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped, boasts a stronger flavor and more appealing texture than its curly cousin. Ensure the mint is fresh and finely chopped. Spring onions, with their subtle yet sharp taste, should be sliced finely to distribute their flavor without overpowering the salad.

Less is more when it comes to chopping the herbs; bunch them together and use a sharp knife to cut through cleanly. Rough chopping or over-processing can bruise the herbs, leading to a less visually appealing dish and diminished flavor, i.e., it is not a good idea to chop them using a food processor.

Flat-leaf parsley for quinoa tabbouleh

When preparing the quinoa, it’s a golden rule to cook it until the water is completely absorbed. This ensures each grain is tender yet firm, which is the ideal texture for a salad. After cooking, let the quinoa rest, off the heat, and cover for about 15 minutes; this allows it to steam gently, resulting in fluffy individual grains. Before adding it to your other ingredients, fluff it with a fork to separate the grains, ensuring a consistent distribution of all the elements in your salad.

The dressing is the unspoken hero of your salad, bringing together all the components with its tangy and savory notes. To concoct the ideal lemon olive oil vinaigrette, whisk together olive oil, fresh lemon juice, a hint of Dijon mustard, a touch of honey or maple syrup, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

Chilling your Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad in the refrigerator for a few hours, or better yet, overnight, can significantly enhance the flavors. This pause allows the ingredients to meld beautifully, so when served, each mouthful is a burst of harmonious taste.

Seasoning the Salad Properly

Seasoning is not merely an afterthought; it’s a fundamental step that can make or break your Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad. Begin by seasoning the salad with 1 to 2 teaspoons of salt, but don’t hesitate to adjust according to taste and the added ingredients, like feta, that contribute to their salty punch. Similarly, start with one teaspoon of pepper and calibrate from there to ensure a perfectly seasoned dish.

If you’re using a salt brand like Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt, be mindful that it’s coarser than other salts like Morton. This means that if you’re using a finer grain, you’ll need to use less to achieve the same level of seasoning.

Storing and Serving the Salad

Quinoa tabbouleh can be confidently stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. To maintain the salad’s integrity, core and seed the tomatoes before chopping them; this helps to prevent any excess moisture from making the salad watery over time.

Present your Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad as a vibrant side dish for dinners throughout the week or as part of a Mediterranean-inspired appetizer spread alongside hummus, warm pita, and marinated olives.

Remember, while Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad holds up well on its own, its flavors can complement a variety of main courses by injecting a fresh, bright kick to any meal. Whether you’re packing it for lunch or showcasing it at a dinner party, this salad is a versatile, nourishing addition to any menu.

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Quinoa tabbouleh salad with lemon dressing

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

  • Author: Magida
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: cooking
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern


Quinoa tabbouleh salad is a marriage between the hearty goodness of ancient grains and the crisp, fresh vibes of a classic salad, all topped off with a zesty lemon twist.


  • 1 cup cooked quinoa – from about 3/4 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 2 bunches fresh flat-leaf, or curly parsley – this results to 2-3 cups after removing the stems and mincing the leaves
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh mint leaves
  • 1 fresh tomato (you can opt to have more) – seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions or onions
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • a pinch of sugar (optional)


  • Rinse uncooked quinoa in cold water. Boil for about 10 minutes over medium heat while stirring. Quinoa is cooked when tender. Overcooking will make it mushy. Drain using a strainer.
  • In a medium bowl, place minced vegetables – parsley, mint, young onions, tomatoes and quinoa.
  • Whisk lemon juice, olive oil, salt, ground black pepper and sugar (if using). Add to the salad and mix evenly.
  • Serve at room temperature, or chill in the refrigerator for about an hour to meld the flavors together.

Keywords: Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad, Quinoa Tabbouleh

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad different from traditional tabbouleh?

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad swaps the bulgur typically used in traditional tabbouleh with cooked quinoa, turning the classic Eastern dish into a gluten-free alternative packed with more protein.

Is Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad suitable for vegans?

Absolutely! Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad is a vegan-friendly dish, made with simple ingredients like fresh herbs, cherry tomatoes, and cucumber. This light meal is dressed with a zesty blend of fresh lemon juice and virgin olive oil.

Can I add other ingredients to my Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad?

Of course! To make the salad a more filling meal, feel free to add proteins like chickpeas or crispy baked tofu. It’s versatile and customizable.

Can I prepare the salad in advance?

Yes, you can. Preparing Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad ahead of time allows the flavors to blend beautifully. Just store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Having said that, I also do keep my quinoa tabbouleh salad and dressing separate, if I were to serve it more than a day or two.

How do I store leftovers?

Leftover Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for optimal freshness. Enjoy the leftover goodness for up to a few days.

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