This quinoa parsley salad pays homage to the classic tabbouleh. A vegan salad that is both refreshing, familiar and an excellent palate cleanser between mouthfuls.
- Why You’ll Love Vegan Quinoa Salad
- Tabbouleh Origin
- Is Tabbouleh Gluten-Free?
- Difference Between Red Quinoa and White Quinoa?
- How to Get Rid of The Bitter Flavour In Quinoa?
- Recipe Overview
- Variations and Substitutions
- How To Assemble Vegan Quinoa Salad
- How to Make This Salad Perfectly [Expert Tips]
- Great Mains for This Salad
- Frequently Asked Questions
Why You’ll Love Vegan Quinoa Salad
For all you tabbouleh and quinoa lovers, this is a great vegan quinoa salad for you! It’s our take on the classic tabbouleh but we have switched out the bulgur for quinoa, making it a gluten free tabbouleh.
You’ll love this salad because it’s light, wholesome and filled with freshness and goodness. It doesn’t have flavoured salad dressings; it is clean and can be eaten on its own or used in a bowl meal or sandwich.
For our quinoa followers, do try our wintery tricolour quinoa salad with roast vegetables.
Tabbouleh is an incredibly popular Lebanese salad that is made with bulgur.
Also known as tabouleh, tabbouli, tabouli, or taboulah, it is known to have been consumed in Lebanon and Syria for almost 4000 years. It is also said to be a Levantine dish as it is a dish so well ingrained in those cuisines.
For those unfamiliar with what Levantine is, it refers to the Levant region encompassing Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Palestine and most of Turkey. As a more general reference, Eastern Mediterranean with its islands.
Tabbouleh is a crucial part of Lebanese cuisine. So much so, they have a Lebanese National Tabbouleh Day which is celebrated on the first Saturday of July. It has been said that they don’t consider tabbouleh a salad but a dish to be had on its own.
Over time, this popular dish has been adapted by different cultures to suit their preference. The Lebanese would say it has been ‘bastardised’!
The Lebanese and Syrian make parsley the hero of the dish and use less bulgur. The Armenians (called eetch) and Turkish (called kisir) prefer theirs with more bulgur than parsley. Even in the Dominican Republic, they have their own version called tipile.
In the Arab world, they eat it as part of a mezze. In Iran, it is eaten with rice, bread and kebabs. While in the Western world, it is eaten as a side salad to accompany a main meal. This is particularly popular for heavy meat meals as it acts as the perfect palate cleanser.
Is Tabbouleh Gluten-Free?
No, tabbouleh is not gluten free as it is made with bulgur wheat. What can you use instead of bulgur wheat for tabbouleh? Quinoa! Our version is a gluten free quinoa salad that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Difference Between Red Quinoa and White Quinoa?
Colour: White quinoa is the most common of all the quinoa. When most people mention quinoa, it is automatically assumed you’re referring to the white variety.
White quinoa is not entirely bright white and more of a beige/tan colour. This is why it is sometimes also referred to as ivory quinoa, yellow quinoa, blond quinoa or tan quinoa.
Red quinoa is reddish/brown before cooking and turns more brown in colour when it’s cooked.
Texture: When cooked, white quinoa has a really light, delicate and fluffy texture.
Red quinoa is not as fluffy, is a little heavier and even slightly chewier than its white counterpart. After cooking, it can hold its shape better for a longer time.
Taste: White quinoa is the mildest of all quinoa types.
Red quinoa, on the other hand, is richer in flavour and has some nutty undertones. It has a slightly bitter note to it as well.
Popular uses: Because of the light, fluffy nature of white quinoa, it is an excellent substitute for rice. In most cases, they are best served separately as their gentle nature won’t withstand too much tossing.
Red quinoa is extremely popular in salads for its colour, more robust flavour, and more resilient nature, which holds up better.
How to Get Rid of The Bitter Flavour In Quinoa?
Do you cook quinoa and think that it is quite bitter? I know many people who have tried to get into quinoa but have ended up giving up due to its bitter notes.
Uncooked quinoa has a layer of saponin on it. Saponin is a natural chemical compound with foaming properties that coat the quinoa. The saponin is what gives the quinoa that bitter taste.
Therefore, you have to rinse it a couple of times to get rid of this outer coating. I promise you it will taste completely different after you do this!
Flavour/Texture: This vegan quinoa salad, or our version of a gluten free tabbouleh, is best described as being fresh, herbaceous and citrusy. It is light, healthy and nourishing.
The quinoa offers a gentle fluffiness paired with a subtle nutty undertone. In contrast, the cucumber introduces a crisp bite, complemented by the juiciness of tomatoes.
Ease: The trickiest part of this vegan quinoa recipe is the quinoa. Just follow your step by step instructions and expert tips below for the perfect cook.
Time: Thas salad will take 30 minutes or less. Do your prep while the quinoa is cooking.
These are the ingredients you need for vegan quinoa salad:
Curly parsley: As the gluten free tabbouleh is all about the parsley, ensure they are sprightly, fresh and have a healthy bright green colour. We love the bounce and abundance of the curly variety.
Cucumber: A medium sized cucumber will suffice. Chop it up into cubes and leave the skin on.
Cherry tomato: Cut cherry tomatoes in half and make sure to keep all the juices.
Red quinoa: Easily available in most supermarkets now. For the organic kind, try your local wholefoods store.
Mint and green onion: Adding to all the herbaceous notes of this wonderful vegan quinoa salad. So fresh!
Olive oil: Good olive oil is essential for this salad. Helps to bind all the ingredients together and softens all the components.
Lemon: An important element of the recipe. The citrusy notes are crucial for the overall balance of the herbs and cooked red quinoa.
Variations and Substitutions
Additions: There are quite a few additions you can add to this salad. To ensure it is still both vegan and gluten free, try adding bell peppers, beans of any kind such as garbanzo, red kidney or black bean, red onion and celery.
Flat leaf parsley: One would say that traditionally a tabbouleh is made with flat leaf parsley. Flat leaf parsley is a better choice if you prefer a softer texture, which is oe fo the many reasons we also love using it such as in our lemon parsley anchovy and garlic dressing and healthy green goddess dressing.
Herb-forward: Should you prefer the flavour of the vegan quinoa salad to be more herbaceous, tone down the use of quinoa and add more herbs. For those who like the touch of mint, add an extra dash for that distinct finish.
Green onions: I choose green onions/scallions for their milder taste when eaten raw. This salad, with its delicate flavours, might not balance out the strong taste of pungent onions.
Citrus: Some people love their lemons and the freshness of the citrus. Squeeze more lemon juice into the salad. It will definitely help tame the flavour of the red quinoa.
Step by step instructions for how to make vegan quinoa salad:
Rinse the red quinoa thoroughly to get rid of the bitter coating in a fine strainer. Add ½ cup uncooked red quinoa to 1 ½ cups of water in a saucepan.
Bring it to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. When cooked, drain properly, as it can get watery. Put the red quinoa back in the saucepan, put the lid on and let it steam for 10 minutes to dry it out.
Wash the parsley thoroughly and put it through a salad spinner to dry it. Remove the stems from the curly parsley and either chop finely or put into a food processor to blitz until finely chopped. Pour into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
Cut the cucumber with the skin on into big slices and then quarter them.
Cut the tomato into small cubes.
Pick some of the nicer mint leaves for garnish. Then roughly chop the rest to yield ½ cup.
Slice the green onion very thinly to yield ¼ cup.
How To Assemble Vegan Quinoa Salad
Of all the salads, this has got to be the easiest salad assembly.
Add all the ingredients into the mixing bowl with the parsley.
Add olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon and salt.
Mix thoroughly and serve.
How to Make This Salad Perfectly [Expert Tips]
Wash the quinoa properly: As mentioned above, red quinoa has a saponin layer on it, giving it that bitter flavour. Rinse the red quinoa a couple of times at a minimum to try and get rid of the natural chemical compound.
Drying the cooked quinoa: After cooking the quinoa, drain it through a strainer, place the cooked red quinoa back in the saucepan and place the lid on. Let it sit for 10 minutes and allow it to steam as it will dry it out.
Dry the herbs: It is imperative that the herbs are dried properly. Otherwise, it will become a very soggy salad. Put the washed herbs in a salad spinner or place on paper towels and allow them to dry over time.
Great Mains for This Salad
What to serve with vegan quinoa salad? Try these delicious main dish recipes:
For a vegetarian and Lebanese themed meal, you can’t go past these homemade Lebanese falafel recipe.
Frequently Asked Questions
This vegan quinoa salad is served at room temperature. After the red quinoa is left to steam for 10 minutes, it has cooled down a little before mixing it with the rest of the ingredients. It can be served cold if preferred.
1 cup of uncooked quinoa will yield about 3 cups of cooked quinoa.
The ratio is 1 cup uncooked to 3 cups cooked. Therefore, if you only need 1 cup of cooked quinoa, you only need ⅓ cup uncooked.
Loving this simple twist to a classic tabbouleh. We also love how fresh, heathy and herbaceous it is. Fantastic accompaniment to a whole host of main dishes.
More Vegan Salad Recipes
Vegan Quinoa Salad
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- Rinse the red quinoa thoroughly to get rid of the bitter coating in a fine strainer. Add ½ cup uncooked red quinoa to 1 ½ cups of water in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. When cooked, drain properly, as it can get watery. Put the red quinoa back in the saucepan, put the lid on and let it steam for 10 minutes to dry it out.
- Wash the parsley thoroughly and put it through a salad spinner to dry it. Remove the stems from the curly parsley and either chop finely or put into a food processor to blitz until finely chopped. Pour into a medium sized bowl and set aside.
- Cut the cucumber with the skin on. Cut them into big slices and then quarter them.
- Cut the tomato into small cubes.
- Pick some of the nicer mint leaves for garnish. Then roughly chop the rest to yield ½ cup.
- Slice the green onion very thinly to yield ¼ cup.
- Add all the ingredients into the mixing bowl with the parsley.
- Add olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon and salt.
- Mix thoroughly and serve.
- You can enhance this salad with several additions. To keep it vegan and gluten-free, consider adding bell peppers, beans (like garbanzo, red kidney, or black beans), red onion, and celery.
- A tabbouleh is traditionally made with flat leaf parsley. The flat leaf parsley would be a better choice if you prefer a softer texture.
- Should you prefer the flavour of the vegan quinoa salad to be more herbaceous, tone down the use of quinoa and add more herbs. You can certainly add more mint if you love the finish it gives.
- Green onions are more subtle when eaten raw. As this salad doesn’t have a lot of intense flavours, it can’t mask the overly pungent onions, and it could overpower the dish. In saying that, however, you can absolutely use red onions if that is your preference.
- Some people love their lemons and the freshness of the citrus. Squeeze more lemon juice into the salad. It will definitely help to tame the flavour of the red quinoa.
*Disclaimer: Nutritional information provided is an estimate only and generated by an online calculator.
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