Quinoa Tabbouleh (Kind of..)

Somewhere around noon, at any company in any city, USA:

Friendly Co-worker: "Wanna go grab some lunch?"
You: "No, thanks I'm trying to save some money so I actually brought mine from home today"
Friendly Co-worker: "Oh yeah?  Whatdya bring?"
You: "I made up some Quinoa Tabbouleh last night to have for lunch for the next couple of days"
Friendly Co-worker: (Looking confused because they have no idea what Quinoa is) "Well aren't you a fancy pants!" (Okay, I'm pretty sure no one uses the expression "fancy pants" but you get the point)

Now here, you have a couple of options as to how to respond to your friendly co-worker.  You can roll your eyes and flippantly say, "Pffftttpp, I know" or you can tell them the truth.  If you can make rice (or at least own a rice maker) and if you can cut up some vegetables then you can make Quinoa Tabbouleh.  The hardest part is learning how to say Quinoa.  (It's Keen-wah.)

I think it's pretty easy to get into a rut when it comes to trying to save some money by bring your own lunch to work.  A plain old plastic PB&J will only take you so far before you start to crack, demanding variety.  I feel that it's really important to change things up a bit.  I like to have something exciting to look forward to and to know that at some time around noon, I will pause from my hectic day and savor a homemade lunch.  To me, lunch signifies the halfway point.  The morning is behind you and you've got the afternoon to go before the evening is yours.  Why shouldn't you want to savor that moment and make it is as delicious as possible?

Quinoa is actually a seed that cooks up like rice but has a sweet subtle bite to it.  It's also loaded with protein and fiber.  Here, I combined elements of a traditional Middle Eastern Tabbouleh (cucumber, mint, lemon and olive oil) and added tomatoes and thinly sliced green onions.  It's crunchy, its satisfying, it refreshing and its bright colors are like happiness in a bowl.  Simply put, it's the perfect way to give your lunch a much needed shake up.

Quinoa Tabbouleh
- 1 long English cucumber (or regular cucumber with the seeds removed)
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
~ 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
~ 1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
- The juice of 1 lemon
- Splash of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup Quinoa
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- Pepper (I don't add salt to this dish mainly because the stock has salt in it and adding salt will make the cucumbers loose some of their crunch.  If you'd like to add salt, I recommend adding it just before serving)

To make the Quinoa, give the dried Quinao a couple of rinses under cold water. Drain completely.  You can use either a rice cooker to make the rice (add the Quinoa and stock and just let it go).  Or you can cook it on a stove top as you would rice.  Once it is cooked, (you'll know its done when all the water is absorbed) cool the Quinoa completely.  This is a really important step because otherwise you'll end up cooking your veggies and herbs, thus losing the crunch.  You can help expedite this by throwing the bowl in the freezer for a bit.

While the Quinoa is cooling, Chop the cucumbers into little pieces (leaving the skins on) and slice the grape tomatoes in half.  Once the Quinoa is cooled, add the mint, green onions, lemon, extra virgin olive oil, pepper and vegetables.  This dish will keep well, tightly covered in the fridge, for a couple of days.


Daniele Mathras said...

sounds delish! I love quinoa!!!

Bread and Beta said...

Quinoa is really good and versatile. I call it the supergrain.

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