Tabbouleh is traditionally made using bulgur wheat, but I prefer the nuttier feel and flavour of quinoa. Also, I like to make food sexier by invoking a complicated lexicon for description. Because I’m a word nerd like that.
But seriously; quinoa doesn’t just sound better than bulgur. Taste for yourself.
The trick with tabbouleh—like most things in life, IMO—is to not be timid with the details. Screw inhibition—lavish your bowl with fistfuls of mint; baptise it in the juice of TWO lemons, anoint with a good glug of oil, and salt it like nobody’s watching.
I buy Merchant Gourmet pre-cooked red and white quinoa because—why not? But please don’t let this deter you from spending more time cooking the grains from scratch; I just prefer to spend mine eating them.
How Do You Even Say ‘Quinoa’?
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary, how you’re hearing quinoa being pronounced on celebrity chef programmes is right: “KEEN-wah”.
But—that pronunciation does not relate to the true origins of the word. ‘Quinoa’ in fact comes from the Quechua word kinuaor or kinúwa. The Quechua people, largely indigenous to the Andean region of South America, have cultivated and eaten the crop for millennia. For the Quecha, Quinoa is sounded as “kee-NOO-ah”.
Like many things, historical Spanish influence in the Americas hasn’t left this pseudocereal untouched. The Spanish version of quinoa is less drawn out: “kee-NO-ah”.
Now, the iteration swimming around your TV sets or bandying about in highfalutin cooking threads—“KEEN-wah” is actually an Anglicised morph of the original, blurring the last two distinctive vowel sounds into one syllable.
Basically, there is no ‘right’ way to say quinoa.
But you can be damn sure someone will try correct you whatever version you use. (So have fun and use it all three ways in one conversation. Ha.)Print
Shake up traditional tabbouleh with grain-free quinoa, instead. Then add a rainbow of crunchy salad veggies, zingy lemon and fresh mint.
- 250g pre-cooked red and white quinoa (or do it yourself)
- 1 tin chickpeas
- A few glugs’ worth of cold-pressed rapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil
- 2 unwaxed lemons
- 1 medium red onion
- 300g cherry tomatoes (around 20)
- 3–4 spring onions
- A good handful of fresh basil
- A good handful of fresh mint
- Sea salt and black pepper
- Full fat Greek yoghurt for serving – optional
- Small naan breads for serving – optional
- Pour quinoa into medium-sized bowl, and break apart any clumps with a fork. Drain and rinse chickpeas, then add to the bowl. Mix.
- Add a glug of oil, and lemon juice—save a squeeze or two.
- Thinly slice the red onion, halve your cherry tomatoes, peel and slice the spring onions. Tumble it all into the bowl. Tear off audacious hunks of fresh basil and mint, then snip into the salad. Mix.
- Sprinkle over Himalayan or sea salt and grind some black pepper. Add a drizzle more oil: if your salad isn’t shining, add more. And lemon juice. Taste. Adjust seasoning.
- Serve alongside a dollop of full fat Greek yoghurt, and maybe a hot pile of naan breads if you’re feeling it.