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.

A Warm Winter Tabbouleh Recipe by @cookthestory

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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

Happy Winter Cooking from Christine
P.S. Don’t forget to share this easy, healthy and DELICIOUS recipe with your friends. Here’s a great pic to share:

Warm Winter Tabbouleh with Feta made by @cookthestory

17 Responses to “Tabbouleh in the Winter”

  1. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen — January 24, 2013 @ 3:27 am (#)

    You know I was actually thinking of how I could make a winter version of tabbouleh the other day as well! I miss it too and was thinking I could make a seasonal version to enjoy now.

    • Christine Pittman — January 25, 2013 @ 9:22 am (#)

      Great minds, Sylvie! Let me know what you do to winterize it. The possibilities are endless.

  2. a farmer in the dell — January 20, 2013 @ 6:30 pm (#)

    I love that you “winterized” this dish. Brilliant!

  3. Kiersten @ Oh My Veggies — January 18, 2013 @ 5:28 pm (#)

    I love that you used quinoa in this–such a good idea! My husband isn’t crazy about traditional tabbouleh, but I bet I can win him over with this one. :)

    • Christine Pittman — January 19, 2013 @ 10:11 am (#)

      Thanks Kiersten! If you try it and he loves it, let me know. (lol. If he doesn’t love it, let me know also. I’m always up for constructive criticism).

  4. Kelly Senyei (Just a Taste) — January 17, 2013 @ 2:31 pm (#)

    This looks fantastic and like the perfect hearty dish for winter! And I never say “no” to anything involving feta cheese :)

    • Christine Pittman — January 18, 2013 @ 8:55 am (#)

      Kelly, I couldn’t agree more. There’s nothing like a bit of feta to make even the blandest, healthiest, most boring dish sing.

  5. Cassie | Bake Your Day — January 16, 2013 @ 8:41 pm (#)

    I love tabbouleh and i think that serving it warm and with quinoa is the perfect twist. Sounds so good!

  6. Katerina — January 16, 2013 @ 10:22 am (#)

    I miss watermelon and I cannot really substirute it with anything so I just wait with patience for the summer to come! Your tabbouleh’s cousin looks so delicious!

    • Christine Pittman — January 16, 2013 @ 2:12 pm (#)

      We get watermelon all year here. When I see it at the store I’m always tempted by it but I know that it’s not as good in the winter. Makes me crave it even more!

  7. Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen — January 15, 2013 @ 11:15 am (#)

    Ice cream is the best and all you have to do to make it winter-friendly is change the flavors! Or not. Either way, it’s a winner….

    Love the look of this tabbouleh!

    • Christine Pittman — January 15, 2013 @ 5:05 pm (#)

      Oh, I agree! I love having ice cream in the winter. My favorite way to winterize it is to drizzle it with maple syrup. Mmmm!


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