Enjoy this light, healthy, filling Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad as a light lunch or dinner side dish. Lots of fresh veggies, herbs, and a light lemony dressing give this quinoa salad lots of flavor. Give it a try!
Everyone knows by now that quinoa is a psuedo-grain super food (meaning, it's not an actual grain but a seed and it is loaded with healthy plant-based protein and nutrients). But quinoa on its own can be kind of bland and blah.
Here is a GREAT way to add more quinoa to your diet and to actually enjoy it.
This Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad is super flavorful thanks to lots of fresh herbs, a light lemony dressing, and juicy fresh veggies.
Related recipe: The BEST Broccoli Salad with Bacon and Cranberries
Related recipe: Grilled Vegetable Salad with Balsamic Dressing
Tabbouleh salad (also spelled tabouli salad) is a middle Eastern salad that is traditionally made with bulgur wheat and has loads and loads of finely chopped herbs, such as parsley and mint. It typically has a light, lemony dressing with a bit of olive oil, and freshly chopped veggies.
Don't feel weird about adding mint to a salad, it doesn't make the salad taste minty at all. It just adds a little freshness and nice flavor to the salad.
I wanted to share another favorite gluten free tabbouleh salad that we make often: Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad.
Related recipe: Couscous Tabouli
This quinoa salad is a super healthy lunch idea, light dinner idea, or dinner side dish. It's loaded with lots of fresh veggies, adding vitamins, fiber, and making this salad twice as big in volume without adding many calories.
Here's how I cut up the veggies for this salad:
Related recipe: Chickpea Salad with Feta
In this quinoa tabbouleh salad I simply substitute quinoa with what would traditionally be wheat.
Quinoa is a great high protein option for tabbouleh, making this salad perfect for a healthy lunch or dinner side dish when you want to add some plant based protein.
Quinoa is also really great for absorbing flavors, so the light lemony dressing tastes really good when tossed with quinoa.
I use 1 cup of uncooked quinoa for this recipe, which makes about 4 cups of fluffy cooked quinoa. You can definitely increase the amount of quinoa if you want to make more salad. You might just need to add an extra squeeze of lemon juice and glug of olive oil to give it more flavor.
Using fresh ingredients
For this salad, I recommend using fresh lemon juice and lemon zest, fresh herbs, and a high quality olive oil. This really gives the salad more flavor, and doesn't take that much longer to do.
Please zest the lemon before you juice it - it will be much easier this way! A simple microplane zester works like this one really well and will leave you wanting to add lemon zest to everything because of its fresh flavor. I use this thing daily for grating cheese and garlic too. Please do use cut-safe gloves with this because it is sharp!
I love this citrus squeezer from oxo to squeeze a little bit of fresh lemon juice quickly.
And here is an olive oil that I really like because it doesn't have too strong of a flavor, but has a nice subtle olive oil flavor.
Related recipe: Chickpea Pea Shoot Salad with Basil Lime Dressing
Quick pickled onions
Here's my super easy trick to making salads taste great: I soak the chopped/diced onions and/or garlic in lemon juice or vinegar - whatever the acid is for the salad dressing. Just for a few minutes.
In this case, I dice the onions and mince the garlic and let them sit in lemon juice for a few minutes while the quinoa cooks and while I chop the rest of the veggies. You can do this right in the bowl where you'll be mixing your salad, but I a showing it to you up close so you can see it:
This quick little marinating step softens the onions and mellows out their sharp flavor (especially important for red onions!). This step also infuses the lemon juice with garlic and onion flavor, giving the whole salad a subtle garlic and onion flavor throughout instead of only when you bite down on an onion.
It takes just a couple of seconds of extra work, but really helps makes delicious quinoa salads.
I hope you get a chance to make this easy, nutritious quinoa salad! If you do make it, please take a picture and tag me on Instagram or Facebook. You can find me at @babaganoshblog on both. I love seeing your creations!
Looking for more easy nutritious salads or quinoa recipes?
- Salad in a jar with homemade honey mustard dressing
- Calamari salad with bell peppers
- Quinoa with bell peppers
- Instant pot quinoa and sausage with vegetables (a one-pot dinner!)
- Kamut tabbouleh salad
- Green lentil tabbouleh salad
If you enjoyed this recipe, let me know with a comment and a star rating below. And don't forget to share it on Facebook and save it on Pinterest for later!
For the quinoa
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa (see notes)
- 2 cups water or vegetable stock for cooking quinoa (see notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the salad
- 1/2 yellow or red onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Juice and zest of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons lemon juice, see notes)
- 1 large tomato (or 2 plum tomatoes)
- 1 large cucumber
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup fresh parsley leaves, finely diced
- 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, finely diced (optional)
- Salt & pepper, to taste
Cook the quinoa
- Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions (typically you bring 1 cups of salted water or vegetable stock + 1 cup of quinoa to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and allow to simmer for about 12-15 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked and all the water is absorbed). Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork and remove from heat.
Prepare the tabbouleh salad while the quinoa is cooking
- Finely dice the red onion and place it in a bowl with the lemon juice, allowing the onions to marinate for a few minutes while you prep the salad.
- Scoop out the seeds from the cucumber and dice it. Dice the tomatoes. Finely dice the parsley and mint leaves.
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, marinated onions with the lemon juice, chopped veggies, diced herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well, and season with more salt or lemon juice, if needed.
- I used tri-color quinoa for this salad, but you can use any kind. If you already have cooked quinoa, use about 4 cups cooked quinoa and toss with the rest of the ingredients.
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice and a bit of lemon zest give this salad so much flavor! Please zest the whole lemon first, then juice it, so you don't have to try to zest a slippery sliced lemon.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 315Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 563mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 6gSugar: 11gProtein: 9g
The nutritional information displayed is just an estimate and will vary depending on the actual ingredients and brands used and the exact amounts used. Please consult with a dietitian or nutritionist if you are actually tracking nutritional information for health reasons.