Friday, July 19, 2013

Foodie Fridays: Quinoa Tabouleh

Really, it's so delicious and summery!
Back in April some of my girlfriends and I indulged in a girls’ weekend in Chicago.  We decided to stay at an Embassy Suites because, well, they offer a free Happy Hour and breakfast.  And, hey, who doesn’t enjoy free cocktails and omelets? (Except not necessarily together.  That might be gross.)

One morning as a couple of us stood in the omelet line, we engaged in a conversation with the mom and her daughter standing in line in front of us.  As we spoke about the virtues of egg white omelets and vegetables, they told us about their quinoa obsession.  Naturally, since I have recently latched on to this superfood, I listened intently to their claims of improved cholesterol counts and weight loss attributed to their consumption of quinoa.

“So, how do you prepare it?” I asked, ever on the watch for new ideas.
“I just make a big pot of it in the morning and we eat it like oatmeal or Cream of Wheat,” the mom told me.  “Some people don’t like the flavor, but you get used to it.  And my husband really needed to get his cholesterol counts down.”

So, as usual, I filed this tidbit of information away for some unknown future use. 
And then I came across a bag of quinoa at Target.

“Oooooo, now I can make straight up quinoa at home.  And we will all be so healthy!”  I told myself as I tossed the bag into my cart.

Except when I brought it home and cooked it up, it wasn’t very tasty.

I tried preparing it like risotto.  I boiled it with a mushroom flavored broth and then added some butter, sautéed mushrooms, and parmesan after it was finished cooking.  Due to the natural earthy flavor of the quinoa, the combination of the quinoa and mushroom broth was a little too rich and overwhelming. 

Next I tried preparing with water alone and then adding butter, Splenda, and milk for breakfast.  Meh.

And then I thought about how quinoa closely resembles the look and texture of bulgur wheat and wondered, “Can I make tabouleh with quinoa?”

Turns out, the answer is, “Yes! Absolutely!”

So, for all of you out there wondering what on earth you can do with that bag of quinoa that I know you are now going to run out and purchase, here is the recipe and cooking technique that I used to make quinoa tabouleh.

Enjoy, and happy, healthy eating to you!

Quinoa Tabouleh

1 cup uncooked quinoa pearls
Juice of one lemon (approximately ¼ cup)
1 ¼ cups of water
½ large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup of fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse quinoa and then put in medium saucepan with ¼ cup fresh lemon juice and water.  After water comes to a boil, lower temperature and simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender.

2.  When quinoa is cooked, pour into strainer and rinse with cold water.

3.  Put drained quinoa into a medium bowl.  Add vegetables, herbs, seasonings, lemon juice, and olive oil.  Stir to combine ingredients.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4.  Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Enjoy with hummus, sliced veggies, and grilled chicken.

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