IMG_3400Here’s a quick and easy take on a classic Middle Eastern salad that boosts nutrition while cutting calories: Skinny Quinoa Tabouli.

Traditional tabouli (tabbouleh) is usually made with Bulgur wheat..which is a healthy whole grain (if you can eat wheat) with about 150 calories per cup.  But quinoa–which is not a grain at all, but a seed from a plant related to chard and beets–has slightly more nutrition…with 8 grams of protein and almost twice the calcium of cereal grains in each 222 calorie cup.

IMG_3381And by using just 1 tablespoon of olive oil instead of the 4 to 6 most recipes call for and bumping up the herbs and vegetables–including vitamin K and C rich green onions and parsley as well as lycopene loaded tomatoes–you not only pump up the nutrition and improve the texture, you cut the calories to less than 100 per cup!


P10201221 c quinoa, rinsed and drained (will yield 3 cups cooked)

2 c water

1 t kosher salt, more to taste if necessary

1 1/2 c minced parsley, about 2 large bunches

IMG_33251 1/2 c minced green onions, about 2 bunches

1 lb grape tomatoes, chopped, about 2 cups  (Grape tomatoes are less watery than regular tomatoes and have more reliable flavor.)

zest and juice of one medium lemon

1 T olive oil

P1020125IMG_3321Rinse quinoa well in a fine sieve to remove the saponin (the naturally occurring bitter coating that keeps insects at bay.)  In a dry nonstick pan, toast quinoa over medium-high for 3 or 4 minutes, then add 2 cups of water and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to the lowest low, cover, and cook until all water has been absorbed about 15 minutes.  Turn off heat and let stand, covered, for another 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork.

IMG_3333Zest the lemon onto the quinoa and add in the parsley, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, and lemon juice, and toss well.

Let sit for 30 minutes before tasting for seasonings, adding more salt only if necessary.  Serve cold or at room temperature.


IMG_3358Tabouli varies from country to country in the Middle East…some add mint to the mix, some add cucumbers.

And as long as you’re fooling around, try using this simple recipe with other grains like cracked Bulgur wheat (if you don’t mind gluten) or brown rice… or even substitute a legume like lentils or black-eyed peas.

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