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.

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.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Middle Eastern
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author katiemorford


  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 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 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional for a vegan version)


  1. Pour the quinoa into a fine mesh sieve or colander and rinse thoroughly under warm water. 

  2. Transfer the quinoa to a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover the quinoa by at least 1 ½ inches. Set the pot on the stove over high heat and bring to a boil. When the water boils, drop the heat until it simmers vigorously. Simmer until it is tender, about 15 minutes. Pour into a colander and leave to drain in the sink for a few minutes. 

  3. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl and add the cucumber, tomatoes, parsley, mint, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir well, taste, and add more salt if needed. Add the crumbled feta and stir gently just to combine.

  4. Serve warm or at room temperature.