Food & Dining

Quinoa takes turn in tabbouleh

alt

Though everyone seems to have a different way of spelling tabbouleh — toubouleh? tabouli? — more and more people do seem to agree that this delicious Middle Eastern salad of bulgur wheat tossed with cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, olive oil and lemon juice is delicious made with quinoa. 


Though everyone seems to have a different way of spelling tabbouleh — toubouleh? tabouli? — more and more people do seem to agree that this delicious Middle Eastern salad of bulgur wheat tossed with cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, olive oil and lemon juice is delicious. It helps that it’s also healthy and quick to prepare.

So why would anyone — starting with me — want to mess with success? Because even though bulgur wheat — a whole grain that has been cracked and partially cooked — is healthier than white rice, quinoa is even healthier.

An ancient food first cultivated by the Incas, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) looks like a grain, but actually is a seed loosely related to spinach and chard. Available in a variety of designer colors, quinoa has a mild grassy taste and boasts tons of protein and calcium. It’s hardy, too, and so drought-resistant that the United Nations has designated quinoa a super-crop for its potential to feed the poor.

And did I mention that it takes almost no time at all to cook? Just 10 to 15 minutes.

One note: freshly-harvested quinoa is coated with bitter-tasting saponins. A natural insect repellent, saponins happen to repel humans, too. Most of the quinoa sold commercially in this country has been processed to remove this coating, but you should be sure to rinse and drain it yourself before cooking.

For the vegetables in my tabbouleh, I started by salting and draining the tomatoes, a little trick I learned when I worked in the test kitchen at Gourmet. Like most vegetables, tomatoes contain a ton of water, which tends, unsurprisingly, to water down the salad’s taste. Salted and drained, the tomatoes are not just drier, they are much more tomato-y, flavor-wise.

Next came the hefty infusion of flat-leaf parsley and fresh mint, two more boosts to the salad’s flavor and nutritional value. The fact that these herbs are usually consigned to the garnish ghetto is a crime in my book.

The final touch? A spritz of lemon juice. Make sure yours is freshly-squeezed. That stuff in the jar just doesn’t compare. Also, you’ll want to break out the extra-special extra-virgin olive oil. There aren’t a lot of ingredients in this salad, which means it is key to get the most flavor from every one.

* * *

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

— — —

1 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

— — —

6 tablespoons lemon juice, divided

— — —

2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

— — —

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

— — —

2 cups finely chopped cucumber (about 1/2 medium seedless cucumber)

— — —

3 scallions, finely chopped

— — —

1 clove garlic, minced

— — —

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

— — —

2 cups firmly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

— — —

1 cup firmly packed fresh mint leaves, shredded

Using a mesh strainer, rinse and drain the quinoa under cold water.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the quinoa, broth and two tablespoon of the lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until all of the broth is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. When done, the grains will appear soft and translucent, and the germ ring will be visible along the outside edge. Transfer to a shallow platter and spread evenly. Let it cool.

Meanwhile, place the tomatoes in a colander or mesh strainer. Sprinkle the tomatoes lightly with salt and set over the sink or a bowl and let drain for 10 minutes.

Once the quinoa has cooled, transfer it to a large serving bowl. Add the drained tomatoes, the cucumber, scallions, garlic, remaining 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chill for at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve. Just before serving, stir in the parsley and mint.

Nutrition information per serving: 250 calories; 130 calories from fat (52 percent of total calories); 14 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 26 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 3 g sugar; 6 g protein; 220 mg sodium.

* * *

(Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She currently stars in public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and has written three cookbooks, including “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”)




More Close Up

A hope sanctuary

CTCA opens doors to support group lounge

From the outside, Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southeastern in Newnan is ever-expanding, adding to its building that opened in 201 ... Read More


Healthy Living

Elliott retires after 55 years at Piedmont Newnan

Work is something people either like or do not like. After 55 years at Piedmont Newnan Hospital and the former Newnan Hospital, Virginia Ell ... Read More


Radioactive Fallout

Hayward, Wayne may have been victims

Tough movie cowboy John Wayne and Susan Hayward, the Academy Award-winning actress who lived for several years in Carroll County, may have d ... Read More


Senior Living

Coweta centers offer activities

Coweta senior centers both in Newnan and outlying communities offer a variety of activities weekly. Tommy Thompson Senior Center, 29 Hospita ... Read More


Health Happenings

• Free dental exams and cleanings are offered to children in the Newnan community at It’s A Small World Children’s Dentistr ... Read More

Atkins’ workshop takes children around world

With music and movement, the children on the upper floor of the Carnegie Library traveled around the world. Actress, singer and dance instru ... Read More