Tabbouleh in the Winter
I could wander in grains of tabbouleh everyday from June until September, for lunch, dinner and maybe even for breakfast. From the cool crumbles of bulgur to the masses of parsley and mint yanked from the garden, from the crunch-squirt-crunch of tomato to the raw bite of onion and garlic, from the cleanliness of lemon to the olive oil that slicks it all, everything about tabbouleh makes me happy in the summer.
And yet, as much as I love my dear salad, when winter comes it just doesn’t work. All that cold bright zing is wrong underneath a pot roast or beside my favorite pork and carrot stew. Until recently, I’d taken this to mean that tabbouleh doesn’t belong at my winter table. But that changed last week when I spotted a box of Inca Red Quinoa at the grocery store.
I asked myself, “What can I make with this interesting box of red grains?” The first thought was tabbouleh, which I quickly dismissed because it is now January, “Nah. Too cold for that. Maybe in a few months.”
But then I wondered if I could wilt parsley into the hot quinoa, maybe having previously cooked the little red globes with some onion and garlic sweated in olive oil. And I could finish the hot side dish with some lemon which, when warm, is more mellow than bright and clean.
The dish I made is not tabbouleh, not in the least.
But it could be tabbouleh’s winter cousin. And it definitely works under a pot roast and with my favorite pork and carrot stew.
If you want to try real tabbouleh, head over and check out my recipe for kid-friendly Greek tabouli.
Now, here’s the warm winter tabbouleh recipe:
Winter Tabbouleh with Feta
This side dish uses quinoa instead of the bulgur that is traditional in tabbouleh because warm quinoa is more appealing to me than warm bulgur. Theother usual tabbouleh flavors are cooked so that they lend a mellower flavor than you would find in a typical tabbouleh, making this a perfect winter side dish. A quick note about quinoa, even if the package you buy does not say to rinse the grains before cooking, I highly advise that you do so. I've found that quinoa sometimes has a bitter flavor if not rinsed. Best to avoid that at all costs and rinsing is hardly difficult.
- 12 ounces (340g) of quinoa, the regular kind or the Red Inca variety
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus for to finish at the end
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups unsalted chicken broth, vegetable broth, water or a mixture
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 and ½ cups chopped fresh parsley, plus a bit more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled.
- Pour the quinoa into a fine mesh sieve and put it into the sink. Douse it in lots and lots of fresh cold tap water. Leave it to drain for a few minutes while you do the next step.
- In a medium saucepan that has a lid warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook stirring occasionally until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook while stirring for 30 seconds or so.
- Add the drained quinoa and stir for a moment before splashing in the broth or water and the salt. Bring it to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, stir and cover letting it almost bubble for 15-20 minutes, until the quinoa is tender. If the liquid was not all absorbed, drain the quinoa in a fine mesh sieve and then return it to the hot saucepan for a minute or two to help it dry out a bit.
- Add the lemon juice, parsley and a bit of olive oil. Stir it and taste it. Add more salt if it's a bit bland and more olive oil if it's a bit dry. Stir again. Serve warm topped with the feta cheese and a bit more chopped fresh parsley.
Now go down to the comments section and tell me, what summery dishes to you miss in the winter? Have you found ways to make them more suitable for the colder months?
17 Responses to “Tabbouleh in the Winter”
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