July 26, 2018

Quinoa Tabouleh

Recipe: Rawia Bishara

Try this Quinoa Tabouleh recipe from the cookbook Levant.

While the Middle East is flush with good-for-you grains (such as that smoky powerhouse, freekeh), I only came into contact with quinoa a few years back. My son, now a Californian, visited us one summer. For dinner one night, he prepared quinoa salad, which had a wonderful, almost caviar-like texture that absorbed the dressing beautifully without getting soggy or dry. When he began to tell me about its health benefits, I was completely sold.

I immediately got into the kitchen and cooked up a plain batch of quinoa just to get a sense of how it tasted unadorned. I was underwhelmed, and found it a bit bland. What that quinoa needed was to be dressed up. Black-tie dressed up. When I considered quinoa as a flavor-delivery vessel with tremendous health benefits, my imagination took over. I used it in tabouleh instead of cracked wheat to make the time-honored salad gluten-free. This dish started my love affair with quinoa, and inspired me to incorporate it again and again in my recipes.



  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1½ cups quinoa
  • 1½ cups boiling water or vegetable or chicken stock


  • 3 cups packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup packed chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 Kirby or Persian cucumbers, diced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 1 large fennel bulb, cored and diced (reserve 2 fronds for serving)
  • 1 long hot chile, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 scallions, green parts only, chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 2 large lemons (about ½ cup)
  • 1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
  • Pinch of freshly ground black pepper


Yield: Serves 8 to 10

  1. Make the quinoa: In a deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the shallots are golden. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, then add the salt, black pepper, and cumin. Add the quinoa and boiling water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 12 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked through.
  2. Remove from the heat and spread over a baking sheet to cool.
  3. Assemble the salad: Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add the parsley, cilantro, mint, cucumbers, tomatoes, fennel, chile, if using, onion, and scallions and toss to combine. Add the oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and serve garnished with the fennel fronds.

Recipes taken from Levant by Rawia Bishara, published by Kyle Books. Photography by Con Poulos.