Try tabbouleh with a twist! This take on the traditional Lebanese salad features kale and quinoa for added health benefits.
By Kirsten Johnson
After the longest winter, pops of color are beginning to appear, hungry for sunshine and warmer temps. This twist on classic tabbouleh is the perfect accompaniment to bring a bit of that brightness to your plate.
The traditional Lebanese salad primarily is made of cracked wheat, parsley, mint and more. In this version, kale and quinoa are added to bump up the health factor and make this tabbouleh even more delicious and filling. Turn it into a meal by adding your favorite protein or bulking it up with some chickpeas and a small pasta, like orzo.
Quinoa is rich in protein, fiber, iron, calcium, B vitamins and more, serving as one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. Unlike bulgur or cracked wheat, quinoa is also gluten-free. Fun fact: Decades ago NASA scientists began studying whether it can be grown in space because of its high-nutrient content and ease of growth!
Kale is packed with health benefits such as fiber, calcium, iron and vitamins K, C and B6. In this salad, it’s chopped into small pieces and massaged with salt, giving it a cooked look and texture.
The rest of the traditional ingredients are included as well, including parsley, mint, onion, tomatoes and cucumbers in a tangy lemon-red wine vinegar dressing. Even if you’re just not that into kale, give this salad a try — you may surprise yourself.
Kale and Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 bunch kale, washed well
½ teaspoon salt
1 English cucumber or 4-5 mini cucumbers
2 green onions, chopped fine
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 red bell pepper, diced small
¼ to ½ cup Italian parsley, chopped fine
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped fine
1 large lemon, juiced
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
salt and pepper, to taste
Rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, which removes its natural outer coating that can sometimes make it taste bitter or soapy. Add to a medium saucepan and toast over medium heat, shaking until it is mostly dry. Add 2 cups of water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
Wash the kale well — dirt loves to hide in its curly leaves and along the center rib. Remove leaves from the rib, pile up and chop into ribbons or bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and massage the kale until it is wet and a vibrant green color. If there is excess water in the bowl, drain it before continuing.
Chop the cucumber, pepper, onion, mint and parsley and add it to the bowl. Add the cooled quinoa and toss to combine.
In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper and honey. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking — or add everything to a small jar and shake until combined. Adjust seasonings to taste. If making ahead, stop here and add dressing just before serving.
Kirsten Johnson moved to Metro Detroit 10 years ago and launched her personal chef business, Fresh Chef Detroit, three years later. She cooks for individuals and families throughout the metro area, including weekly personal chef services, dinner parties, small events and private dinner services. She also is available as a chef for those in Detroit for work, including business travelers, actors and other performers, as well as accompanying clients on their travels. While she cooks anything and everything from around the globe, she specializes in vegetarian, vegan and restricted diets. Find her on Facebook or Instagram @freshchefdetroit to check out what she’s cooking up for people this week.
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