I used fresh blueberries instead of tomatoes and quinoa instead of bulgar wheat for a fresh (and gluten-free) version of Tabbouleh salad! There’s tons of fresh mint and parsley plus a generous amount of zippy lemon garlic dressing. It’s just the thing to bring to a potluck or to serve to company this blueberry season! Plus it’s naturally vegan, so everyone will be able to enjoy it.
Bulgar is cracked wheat, and therefor has gluten in it. This version is gluten-free because it is made with quinoa instead. Quinoa is actually not a grain but a seed. It’s really high in protein and is easier for a lot of people to digest than whole wheat.
How to Make Gluten-free Quinoa Blueberry Tabbouleh Salad
- The first thing you’ll need to do is get your quinoa going. But before you cook it you have to wash it. That’s because the quinoa plant has a naturally occurring bitter soap-like substance on the seeds called saponin, it’s not sketchy don’t worry. It’s like the plants way of protecting its seeds. Nowadays, many quinoas on the market come pre-rinsed. But not all, so if you aren’t sure, rinse it first.
- Here’s how to wash your quinoa: Just pour the dry raw quinoa into a fine mesh sieve and hold under cold running water for a minute or two until the water no longer foams as it runs through.
- Once the quinoa is rinsed, then transfer it to a saucepan, add the water and cook it like rice: bring to a simmer, cover and then reduce the heat to low. Just let it cook until the water is absorbed. This can take as little as 15 minutes, and as long as 20. I shoot for 15, check it, then add a couple more minutes to it. You may notice that the germ bursts, it’s like the outer ring around the outside of the seed breaks because the seed is so plumped with water- that is totally normal.
- Here’s a tip: if you ever loose track of time and more of the water has evaporated than you realized, and the quinoa is starting to stick to the pot (but isn’t burnt yet) take it off the heat but leave the lid on. The steam will soften the quinoa that’s stuck to the sides, and it will come clean in less than 5 minutes!
- While the quinoa is cooking, make the dressing. Typically tabouleh is made with garlic and lemon juice with lots of really good olive oil. If you haven’t made it yet, please make sure you try my classic Tabbouleh recipe. It is fab and one of my favorite side-dishes in the summertime.
- The dressing in this Blueberry Quinoa Tabbouleh also has a little apple cider vinegar added to it. Apple cider vinegar is not a classic ingredient in Tabbouleh, but I used it here because it is slightly less acidic than lemon, and it gives a more mellow brightness to the dressing. I think you’ll find it’s a great match for the sweet and tart blueberries. Plus there are myriad health benefits of apple cider vinegar too.
- Once the quinoa is finished cooking add it to the dressing and stir it together. Let the quinoa cool in the dressing. It will absorb it and take on all that delicious tart garlicky dressing flavor. Yum! To speed up the cooling process, you can spread it out as much as possible, like in the bowl, just spread it out and up the sides of the bowl. If you don’t mind making an extra dish, you could also spread it out on a non-reactive metal sheet cake pan. I just popped it into the fridge to speed it along.
- Then comes all the herbs. I grew up eating traditional style Tabbouleh with tomatoes, bulgar and tons and tons of parsley in it. My mom made it from scratch and we also had it this way at the Beirut Restaurant which you can read about and get my roasted garlic hummus here. Anyway, so that’s why I like to make Tabbouleh with a lot of parsley. I also added in fresh mint which is not unusual to include but often omitted for simplicity sake. In the case of this Tabbouleh, it’s a must because the way it tastes with the blueberries is beyond delicious!
- As for the blueberries, they go into the salad at the end, just give them a rinse, and make sure there aren’t any stems attached. I wouldn’t recommend using previously frozen blueberries because they get so juicy and will turn everything blue!
Tabbouleh made with quinoa and blueberries with lemon dressing, parsley and mint. It is naturally gluten-free and vegan.
- 2 cups water
- 1 ¼ teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 small clove garlic, grated with a rasp style grater
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 pint blueberries
- 1 small bunch curly parsley, washed, spun dry and roughly chopped (about 2 ½ cups)
- 1 cup roughly chopped mint leaves
- Bring water and ¼ teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa and return to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium low to maintain a simmer, and cook until the germ of the quinoa has burst and the water is absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, garlic, pepper and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt.
- Stir the hot quinoa into the dressing. Let cool. To speed cooling, spread out in a large baking dish and refrigerate 20 minutes. Return the quinoa mixture to the bowl and stir in parsley, mint and blueberries. Serve immediately or chill.