This Quinoa Parsley Salad pays homage to the classic tabbouleh. A vegan salad that is both refreshing, familiar and an excellent palate cleanser in between mouthfuls.
Why I Love Red Quinoa Parsley Salad
This Lebanese salad has been a significant part of my salad eating repertoire. I have to admit I didn’t learn to enjoy it until I was much older.
Much like Brussels sprouts, I had to wait for my palate to mature to fully understand why this vegan salad was so good.
I do, however, prefer the use of red quinoa than bulgur. It just gives it a lighter finish which makes it a better side salad recipe. It does also give the tabbouleh that extra bit of colour.
We think this quinoa parsley salad is a real winner especially when you’re having a really heavy main meal and you need something to cleanse your palate.
Difference Between Red and White Quinoa?
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. Which is why it is sometimes also referred to as ivory quinoa, yellow quinoa, blond quinoa or tan quinoa.
Red quinoa is reddish/brown prior to cooking and turns more of a brown in colour when it’s cooked.
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.
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 and one of the many reason we love incorporating it into our recipes and felt it was perfect for this quinoa parsley salad.
Because of the light, fluffy nature of white quinoa, it is an excellent substitute for rice. In most cases, they are best served separately on its own as its gentle nature won’t withstand too much tossing.
Red quinoa is extremely popular in salads both for its colour, more robust flavour as well as its 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 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!
History of Tabbouleh
Tabbouleh is an incredibly popular Lebanese salad that is usually made with bulgur. For our recipe, however, we wanted a gluten free recipe, so red quinoa has been used instead.
Tabbouleh, also known as tabouleh, tabbouli, tabouli, or taboulah, 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 not familiar with what Levantine is, it refers to the Levant region of which it encompasses 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 the 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 as 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’! I get it and don’t think I’ll make this dish for my dear friend Fadi and his family! Yikes!
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.
How to Make Red Quinoa Parsley Salad
How to Make the Salad
Rinse the red quinoa to get rid of the bitter coating in a fine strainer. Add ½ 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. Set aside to cool.
Wash the curly parsley thoroughly and put it through a salad spinner to dry it.
Remove the stems off the 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 into slices, skin on. Then cut into small cubes around the seed. Discard the cube of seed (or eat it on it’s own, that’s what we do!) as we don’t want the salad to get soggy.
Cut the tomatoes 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. I prefer to use green onions as it is 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.
How to Assemble Red 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 curly parsley.
Add olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon and salt.
Mix thoroughly and serve.
Sometimes the classics are simply the best. They have been eaten for thousands of years for a reason. I don’t often make classic salads, even when I put my own twist on it.
Still, when I decided to make this salad, everyone around the table all commented how much they loved tabbouleh. Needless to say, it went down a treat.
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Red Quinoa Parsley Salad
- ½ cup red quinoa
- 3 bunch curly parsley
- 1 cup cucumber, diced
- 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
- ½ cup mint, chopped
- ¼ cup green onion, sliced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lemon, juiced
- ½ tsp salt
Click on the toggle below for conversion to US Cooking Units.
- Rinse the red quinoa to get rid of the bitter coating in a fine strainer. Add ½ 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. Set aside to cool.
- Wash the curly parsley thoroughly and put it through a salad spinner to dry it. Remove the stems off the 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 into slices, skin on. Then cut into small cubes around the seed. Discard the cube of seed (or eat it on it's own, that's what we do!) as we don’t want the salad to get soggy.
- 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.
- Curly parsley is a must for this recipe and can’t really be substituted by the flat-leaf parsley. It requires the bounce and abundance of the curly parsley.
- A traditional tabbouleh calls for bulgur which of course you can use; however, bulgur is a wheat product and therefore not gluten free. Quinoa is a gluten free grain and a better alternative.
- This Quinoa Parsley Salad is best eaten with heavy Middle Eastern or Mediterranean meat dishes. It’s a great side salad to cut through the meat and acts as a bit of a palate cleanser in between mouthfuls.
- You can use any type of cucumber or tomato.
- It’s not a traditional ingredient, but you can add a clove of garlic to the recipe if you’re after a little extra flavour.
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