You know those dishes that just signal the start of a season for you? Pumpkin and apples fill my fridge in the fall. In the summer, it’s corn and tomatoes (and Richardson’s ice cream).
I became enchanted with tabbouleh after trying this recipe by Ina Garten. I immediately liked this dish because it cooked up quickly and kept in the fridge for days. I could cook a big batch on Monday and have several meals ready to go throughout the week.
Consisting of bulgur wheat laced with tomatoes, cucumber, feta and herbs, this refreshing yet filling dish seemed out of my gluten-free grasp. I have to say, I have yet to find a great pita replacement. Perhaps that is another posting in the future? Finally fed up with missing this awesome summer dish, I decided to work with quinoa to make a replacement. Quinoa just doesn’t have the same texture and taste as bulgur wheat, but it does create a mighty tasty dish that keeps just as well in the fridge throughout the week. If you have a grain you like to use better for gluten-free “tabbouleh”, I would love to hear about it.
For my version, I oven-roasted my tomatoes and used Parmesan cheese instead of feta. If I can’t make it exactly like the gluten-y version, I may as well shake things up.
Before making this recipe, think about how you like your quinoa. Quinoa can be cooked to a more creamy texture (kind of like polenta) or it can be cooked more on the al dente side (think couscous with more distinct grains). The more water / liquid you add to the first version, the mushier the quinoa will be. Quinoa actually makes a mean porridge/ “oatmeal”. I provide both options for cooking here. For this recipe, I made my quinoa more on the creamy side (see the pictures). Either version works well.
This dish is vegetarian and without the cheese, it’s vegan. Hooray!
¾ lb. cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 cup quinoa
1 cup cucumber
¼ cup green onions
¼ finely chopped parsley
¼ cup shaved Parmesan
zest of a lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp mustard
¼ tsp cumin
dash of chili flakes
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Heat the oven to 300°F/150°C. Spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet with the garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Bake 45 minutes – 1 hour, checking frequently. The tomatoes will slowly start to dry out, almost like sun-dried tomatoes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
2. Creamier method: boil 2 cups of water. Add the quinoa, lower heat to a simmer and cook 15-20 minutes, until the grains are soft and mostly transparent (there is a little sprout that remains opaque).
Al dente method: fill a large saucepan about 1/3 of the way with water, then add the quinoa and bring to a boil. Once it reaches the boil, turn the heat to simmer and cook 9 minutes. Drain through a fine sieve.
Allow the quinoa to cool.
3. Dice the cucumber and thinly slice the green onion. Toss in a bowl with the lemon zest and parsley.
4. Make the dressing by combining the lemon juice, mustard, cumin, chili flakes and salt and pepper. Whisk together and slowly stream in the olive oil.
5. Add the quinoa and tomatoes to the cucumber, onion, lemon zest, parsley. Toss. Drizzle the dressing over. Stir to coat. Season to taste.
6. Garnish with Parmesan (and more green onions or parsley, if you like).