Because Pasadena, CA (where I used to live) has a large Armenian population, there are several excellent Middle Eastern restaurants within a 5 mile radius. I ate at a couple of them regularly. Since moving away from Pasadena, the things I have missed most (and been unable to find) are even passable falafel, tabbouleh, hummus, baba ghannouj and baklava.
The absence of good middle eastern cuisine forced me to learn how to make my own. Part of the learning process has been trying out healthier versions of these standards. I have actually gotten pretty good at it, even if I do say so. I now make oven baked falafel, oil-free hummus and baba ghannouj and gluten-free tabbouleh. The only thing I haven’t bothered with is baklava for obvious reasons.
Believe it or not, I am breaking down and including a Quinoa recipe! Here is my gluten-free tabbouleh recipe:
Gluten-Free (Quinoa) Tabbouleh
- Mix together in a large bowl:
- 2 cups of cooked Quinoa (the package will give you great instructions; I make mine in the rice cooker):
- 1 cup of chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup of green onions (tops and bottoms)
- 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
- 1 cup chopped greens (see discussion below)
- Optional: 1/2 cup of grated carrots
- Make the dressing by combining ingredients in a food processor and liquefying:
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- garlic to taste (you can definitely leave this out)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil or water (or some combination of the two)
- Pour dressing over the salad mixture, mix well and cover. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
About the greens. Traditionally the greens used are parsley (7/8 cup) and mint (1/8 cup). I am not really fond of parsley or mint in this dish. Instead of parsley, I substitute other finally chopped greens such as: romaine, raw spinach, green onion tops, or the top of celery stocks. Instead of mint I use dill, basil or cilantro. The important thing is to have a cup of greens. Feel free to use what you like or have handy. My personal favorite is celery tops with dill and a basil.
This is one of my easiest summer potluck recipes. I usually put it together the night before since it only takes somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes of prep. The best part is that it is cool and refreshing, tastes great and is a guaranteed crowd pleaser.