You never do know…

What your kids are going to do.

What they’ll say.

And certainly what they’ll eat.

Rosie, my middle one, won’t eat bananas and doesn’t much care for papayas, but set a plate of stinky cheese or a bowl of curried mussels in front of her and she’s quite content.

I’ve been surprised by the fact that all three of my kids love tabbouleh, that Middle-Eastern grain salad packed with bulgur wheat and fresh parsley.  The cheerful Lebanese man who runs a market down the hill from my house makes a killer version that my kids gobble down without hesitation.

In this recipe, I’ve swapped out the bulgur for quinoa. It feels like an appropriate switch since both grains are similar in size and texture. I like the quinoa tabouleh because it’s an excellent protein source and ideal for those staying away from gluten.

One important consideration when cooking with quinoa, especially if you are feeding kids, is to rinse it before cooking. Quinoa is coated with saponins, which lend a bitter taste to the outside of the tiny seeds. Some quinoa comes pre-rinsed, but what I buy usually comes from the bulk bins with no label to indicate if the saponins have been removed or not. To eliminate them myself, I put the quinoa into a fine mesh colandar and run it under warm water for at least a minute, pushing the quinoa around in the strainer as I go. You can always set a bowl beneath the colander to catch that water and use it to hydrate your plants (or wash your hair. Have we just discovered a new-fangled protein rinse?).

This time of year when tomatoes and cucumbers are starting to appear, I like to dice those up and add them to the mix, and then finish the lot with good quality feta cheese.

It’s tasty as a side, or a vegetarian main. I bet you will like it..and you never do know, maybe your kids will too.

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Colorful Quinoa Tabouleh

This is a twist on traditional tabouleh whereby quinoa takes the place of bulgur. The grains are similar in size, but quinoa makes this suitable for those avoiding gluten and is higher in protein. Cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta add flavor and texture to this tasty salad.
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt , divided
  • 1 cup diced English or Persian cucumber (or peeled, seeded regular cucumber)
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • The zest from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional for a vegan version)

Instructions

  1. Pour the quinoa into a fine mesh sieve or colander and rinse thoroughly under warm water.
  2. Put the quinoa, the 1 1/2 cups of water, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt into a medium saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat just until the quinoa simmers, cover with a lid, and cook until the quinoa is tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Lift the lid and let the quinoa cool for a few minutes. Transfer it to a large bowl and add the cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, mint, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir well. Add the crumbled feta and stir gently just to combine.
  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.