April 20, 2014

A Quality Quinoa Tabbouleh

Mom hated plain food, and she loathed ground beef, which she had been forced to eat almost daily as a child. She bragged she hadn’t eaten a canned veggie since crossing the California state line. We ate a lot of salads, rice, chicken stir-fry, couscous, eggplant, fruit, homemade hummus.
Steal the North, Heather Brittain Bergstrom
Sometimes, being a kid is great. For one thing, you get to fall asleep on the long car ride home, instead of sitting behind the driver's wheel in traffic. But one thing that sucks about being a kid? You don't usually have much say over what's for dinner. (The tradeoff is that you do have to pay for it or cook it yourself once you're an adult.) I, for one, love being in charge of what I get to eat every day.

I discovered Heather Brittain Bergstrom through Narrative. Her short stories are real gems. Check them out if you get a chance! So when I found out that she had written a novel, I knew I had to read it. It's told from multiple viewpoints, and its characters are hit hard with more tragedies than one family should ever face, but they survive and they find small but incredible ways to make something good out of their lives. For instance, Kate makes sure that she and her daughter never have to eat the plain food that she was forced to eat during her unhappy childhood.

Before college, I never even tried hummus, never mind tabbouleh. Now I love them both. And I recently realized just how simple and easy it is to make tabbouleh at home.

Tabbouleh is usually made with bulgur wheat, but I had some leftover quinoa lying around, so I figured I'd substitute that instead. This tastes great with eggs, tuna or chicken in a toasted pita with a smear of hummus. Or eat it as a healthy appetizer on its own. 

Quinoa Tabbouleh
1 bunch parsley, chopped fine
2 small tomatoes, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 red onion, chopped fine
1 medium cucumber, peeled and chopped
a drizzle of olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
salt and pepper, to taste

Mix all ingredients together until combined. Refrigerate and let flavors meld together for an hour or so.

Serve with protein of your choice and a warm, whole-wheat pita.