Wednesday 20 August 2008

Lemony Dressing for a Quinoa Salad

Ever since I made tabbouleh (tabbouli) recently and Ricki pointed out it was not gluten free, I have been wondering if it is possible to make tabbouleh with quinoa. A quick search of quinoa salads on the net brought up Susan’s International Quinoa Salad. Not tabbouleh but it was adapted from a recipe by Lorna Sass called Quinoa Salpicon which is closer to tabbouleh. It is the grains and parsley and tomatoes combination with a lemony dressing which is reminiscent of it.

I was thinking about making tabbouleh because we had leftover Turkish bread and hummus from a falafel meal. Fate wasn’t helping. One night I went to buy all ingredients because I was passing the supermarket but I found my purse had been left at work. A few nights later with no trip to the shops planned, I thought I would try to make do with what was in my kitchen. Making do with what we had meant not much parsley and lots of lemons.

I welcomed another chance to use a lemon from our tree which I had been saving for a special dish. Which made me wonder why both Susan and Lorna warned one should use lime juice not lemon juice. When I am feeling lazy I often just squeeze some lemon juice over vegetables for a salad. But on this occasion, I wanted to make a put in a little more effort with a dressing for Holler and Lisa’s No Croutons Required event which this month is hosted by Lisa and focuses on dressings on soups or salads.

I would have preferred lots of parsley to cut through the grains. I find that grains (rice, bulgar, quinoa, etc) in a salad can overwhelm the vegetables and make the dish a little stodgy. But making do meant I only had some meagre handfuls from our parsley plants which have enjoyed the recent deluges of rain but never flourished in the way I had hoped.

Incidentally, my desk calendar recently told me that parsley only flourishes in a house where women are dominant. So readers with parsley in your garden, you can now read some meaning into your parsley plants if you would like to believe Schott’s Miscellany.

My salad was not at all what I would term a tabbouleh but does make me hopeful that I might try a quinoa tabbouleh in the future. It was not without some glitches that, if I was the sort of cook to try a recipe over and over, I would perfect before posting this but I thought that could take some time so here it is with my comments.

The quinoa took a little longer than intended because I burnt the first batch of quinoa. I am not familiar enough with cooking the grain to feel comfortable with timing but I should have followed my instinct that told me something was burning. But when I reduced the time, it was fine. I enjoyed the lemony dressing but it was a bit sweet. I added salt which didn’t help so I think next time I will reduce the honey or even increase the black pepper. I would also possibly increase the vegetables next time.

But all musings aside, it was a tasty salad that went well with the Turkish bread and the last dollops of hummus. And it helped me use up a bit of the quinoa and lemons that seem plentiful in my cupboards right now.

Quinoa vegetable salad with lemon dressing
Serves 2-4

½ cup quinoa
1 cup water (or stock?)
1 cup frozen peas, cooked
1-2 tomato, diced
½ avocado, diced
3 button mushrooms, diced
Handful of parsley, chopped (or more)

(adapted from A Vegetarian Feast by Vikki Leng)
Juice of half a medium lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp honey (next time I will use ½ tsp)
Generous grinding of black pepper
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped

Place quinoa and water in a small saucepan with a lid. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for about 5 minutes with the lid on. Cool quinoa while you prepare vegetables and dressing. To make dressing mix all ingredients in a small bowl with a spoon or a whisk. Add vegetables and dressing and toss to combine.

On the stereo:
Screaming fields of sonic love: Sonic Youth


  1. Good thinking Johanna! Some of the best dishes come from store cupboard foraging. I always like lemons and I like what you served the salad with too. Thanks for entering it :)

  2. Sounds like a lovely salad! Your sweet sensors must be very attuned--I probably wouldn't even taste the presence of just a teaspoon of sweetener! As to the quinoa tabbouleh, I recall coming across a recipe for it in the past week or so. . . now, if only I can find it, will send it along! :)

  3. Why did you want it to be gluten free? Unless you actually have coeliac disease (which is rare and should not be self-diagnosed) cutting gluten from your diet is simply eliminating an important nutrient source from your diet for no good reason.

  4. Thanks for this delightful entry! As you know, quinoa is one of my favorite grains. How lucky are you to have a lemon tree!

  5. Well, my parsley is rampant! In a house of three (almost) grown men.

    Wow. Feel rather chuffed with powerful self, I do.

    Beautiful dressing.

  6. thanks Holler - store cupboard foraging reminds me of the saying that necessity is the mother of invention. I am not a huge lemon lover but I do love them on salads

    thanks Ricki - I think a teaspoon of honey in a small amount of dressing is a lot - but then I realised maybe this is because I have never been a big fan of lemon honey flavour - though I love honey on toast or crumpets (or in a chocolate muffin) - would be interested to see a recipe for quinoa tabbouleh if you see it again - thanks

    caitlin - I am not on a gluten free diet - you are welcome to look at my recipe index to see I eat a lot of wheat and to look through my blog to get a context as to why I am interested in gluten free cooking

    thanks Lisa - it is lovely to have a lemon tree (in a pot) that seems to be doing well - we only let two lemons grow this year as I have been told that it is too much strain on the young tree but it does feel great to have our own fruit on hand

    Thanks Lucy - next time they question you at home you just tell them to take a look at your parsley jungle :-)

  7. this is a regular dressing in my home. just love it. my parsley died while all the other herbs are thriving. that says something, doesn't it?

  8. Thanks Bee - sorry to hear your parsley died but your gardening experiences generally give me hope so maybe this is just a glitch :-)

  9. That salad look fantastic! So fresh. I never would have thought to add button mushrooms to a dish of that flavouring - great idea!

    I had a quinoa tabbouleh at my favourite raw restaurant last was great, but I like the idea of including the mushrooms.


  10. Quinoa is such a funky little grain. The texture is fabulous. You've created a nice medley of colors and flavors for your salad, the better to drench all that dressing on. ; )

  11. thanks Vegancowgirl - raw quinoa tabbouleh sounds bizarre but would be interested to try it

    thanks Susan - quinoa is a nice chewy grain that seems willing to take on other textures and flavours - this is my first try of it in a salad so am interested to experiment more

  12. Caitlin, gluten is not an important nutrient, in fact it is completely unecessary in our diets. gluten is difficult to digest and stops the villi in the small intestine working to their full capacity, regardless of whether you are coeliac or not.


Thanks for dropping by. I love hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and questions. Annoyingly the spammers are bombarding me so I have turned on the pesky captcha code (refresh to find an easy one if you don't like the first one)