Culture and traditions and familiar tastes that make you think of Christmases spent with family members are all really good things that we should cling to like our identity depends on it, because.. well, does it? Is who we are the food we eat? If it is, what happens to those of us that grew up on McDonald’s fries and chicken nuggets? What if for the last two years my family went out to eat on Thanksgiving day and we had a great time and loved not having to clean anything up as we sat poolside listening to the sound of the ocean? Is it okay to take a traditionally Middle Eastern dish, swap the bulgur with the in vogue grain of the moment hailing from South America, not have the recipe stem from a great great grandmother still residing in the motherland, keep its traditional name, and love it just as much as if your coworker from Armenia made it himself? (I have a coworker that makes this occasionally and it. is. divine.)
This tabbouleh is typically made with bulgur grains but in this Bon Appetit recipe here they swap that with quinoa. It works. It’s delicious. It’s something I will pass down to my future children one day, cite it’s history moving through the Middle East, how it began in the mountainous region of Syria and Lebanon, how the Lebanese typically use more parsley than grain, how the Baghdadi women first scoffed at its lack of meat, and how now, with a switch of grain and a bit more garlic, I’ve come to love it as my own.
**All of the quinoa I’ve ever bought gives the direction to mix 1 cup of uncooked grain with 2 cups of liquid, leaving me with about 2 cups when cooked. You can always add that whole amount to this dish for a more grain heavy option, or alternatively you can cook about 1/2 cup of quinoa with 1 cup liquid and I was left with a little more than a cup exactly. Score!
Quinoa Tabboubleh, slightly adapted from this here
1 cup quinoa, cooked and rinsed well
juice of one lemon
1-2 garlic cloves, pressed (my preference) or minced
1/2 cup of good extra-virgin olive oil
1 large English hothouse cucumber or 2 Persian cucumbers, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup flat-leaf parsley (about half a bunch, leafs removed, chopped)
1/2 cup fresh mint (a little less than half the bunch I got from the store, leaves removed, chopped)
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Whisk lemon juice and garlic in the bowl you are serving the tabbouleh. I like the pressed garlic option so its juices can permeate the dish a bit more.. you can always crush it with the side of the knife and then mince). Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Prep the ingredients, cucumber, tomatoes, herbs, and scallions and add to the dressing, toss to coat. Add the quinoa and toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.