Lebanese tabbouleh salad originated in the mountain region of Zahlé, according to Claudia Roden’s The New Book of Middle Eastern Food. In the Bekáa Valley of Lebanon during the 1920s, open-air cafés served various local mezze to tourists from all over the Middle East. Tabbouleh became a regional favorite. Originally, it was made with lots of bulgur wheat and bits of fresh herbs. Over time the preference shifted, and bulgur became a side note as fresh green herbs took over. Today, tabbouleh is more often made with lots of fresh parsley and mint, with bulgur and other additions like tomatoes included as mere accents.
In this modern take on tabbouleh salad, I’ve lightened up on the chopped herbs and replaced bulgur with quinoa. Inspired by a salad I enjoyed at Le Pain Quotidien café, I’ve added ripe avocado and grated cucumber to the mix. Toasted pine nuts and a creamy dairy-free basil dressing take this salad from tasty to entrée-worthy. It’s a seriously satisfying meal, packed with protein, healthy fats and lots of flavor. It’s my new favorite lunch recipe!
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- 2 cups quinoa
- 3 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (12 oz. total), diced
- 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
- 1 Persian cucumber, peeled and grated
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, fresh basil or mint
- 4 cups salad greens (arugula, spinach or spring greens work well)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp honey or agave nectar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Rinse the quinoa thoroughly in a mesh strainer, then cook according to package directions. Fluff with a fork, transfer to a large salad bowl, and allow to return to room temperature. Stirring the quinoa every few minutes will help it to cool faster.
- Gently stir in the avocado, grated Persian cucumber, toasted pine nuts and chopped herbs. Season the salad with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the chopped basil leaves, lemon juice, mayonnaise, honey and salt. Cover the blender. Pulse a few times till the ingredients are chopped and combined. Scrape the sides of the blender with a spatula. Put the lid on, open the pour spout, and turn on the blender. Drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil very slowly, pausing to scrape the sides of the blender as needed, till the dressing is creamy and emulsified.
- To serve, place a portion of salad greens on each serving plate to create a bed for the salad. Scoop the salad onto the top of the greens. To mold the salad as seen in the picture, gently pack the salad into a measuring cup or small bowl, then unmold onto the top of the salad greens. Drizzle with dressing to taste. Serve.
Other Great Recipe Ideas
100 Days of Real Food: Lime-Cilantro Quinoa Salad
Simply Recipes: Cucumber Salad with Grapes and Almonds
Kalyn’s Kitchen: Southwestern Quinoa Salad