One of my favorite food projects is to “Peruvianize” a dish, that is, take an existing dish and change some of its ingredients to give it a uniquely Peruvian touch. For example, start with a traditional flan, but add quinoa and create the Crema Volteada. Or use quinoa to cook a Quinua con Leche instead of the traditional rice pudding. And though quinoa tastes great in desserts, in this recipe it’s used in a savory salad — Quinoa Tabbouleh.
Tabbouleh has its origins in the Arab world, which contributed many ingredients, spices, and dishes to Spanish cuisine, which in turn brought those ingredients to Peru. So to return the favor, this Quinoa Tabbouleh combines the “Mother Grain” of the Incas with lemons, limes, parsley, mint, onions, red peppers, and corn in a chilled salad. As a bonus, it’s a complete protein, 100% vegetarian, and definitely “Peruvianized.”
INGREDIENTS FOR THE QUINOA
- 1 cup quinoa
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups water
INGREDIENTS FOR THE TABBOULEH
- 1/4 cup diced red pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1/4 cup corn
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped mint
- 1 lemon
- 1 lime
- 1/4 cup olive oil
In addition to the ingredients above, you’ll need a pot to cook the quinoa, a skillet to sauté the red pepper, a small bowl to mix the dressing, and a large bowl for the salad.
PREPARATION FOR THE QUINOA
- Mince the garlic and rinse the quinoa with running water until the water runs clear. Drain thoroughly.
- Sauté the garlic with the canola oil in a pot over medium heat and add salt.
- When the garlic starts to brown, add the washed quinoa and stir to coat the grains of quinoa with the oil and garlic.
- Add 2 cups of water to the pot, turn heat to high and bring to a boil, uncovered. Wait for the water to reduce to the level of the quinoa, about 10 minutes.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cover until quinoa cooks completely, about 10 more minutes.
- Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl and set aside to cool.
PREPARATION FOR THE TABBOULEH
- Wash all the ingredients. Dice the onion and red pepper. Chop the parsley and mint. Measure the corn.
- Sauté the red pepper in a skillet with olive oil over medium heat, a few minutes until it just begins to brown. Set aside.
- Squeeze juice of 1 lemon and juice of 1 lime in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and mix.
- Add the chopped ingredients to the quinoa and mix well. Add the lemon, lime, and olive oil dressing and mix well.
- Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
- Serve in small plates and garnish with a sprig of mint.
In this recipe I used canned corn for convenience, but you can use fresh or frozen as well. For the presentation, I shaped the tabbouleh into small 1/2 cup timbales, but you can also serve the dish in a bowl. And if you need more inspiration to cook with quinoa, check out this video of the Quinua con Leche dessert.