quinoa tabbouleh with kale and cherries, blue bowl

This Quinoa Tabbouleh could be the world’s healthiest salad, much more so than its unique kind with parsley and tomatoes. Tabbouleh as it’s, is already a diet powerhouse. Its foremost ingredient, parsley, is among the most antioxidant-dense meals we all know. Tabbouleh alone might be the explanation that the Mediterranean Food regimen is taken into account one of many healthiest diets on the planet!

However whenever you change out bulgur for protein-packed quinoa, parsley for the totally different diet profile of kale, and anti inflammatory cherries for tomatoes, tabbouleh could be even higher since you’re including meals and vitamins that you just may not already be consuming.

What is Tabbouleh | Tabbouleh Health Benefits | Quinoa vs Bulgur | Kale vs Parsley | Cherries vs Tomatoes | Tabbouleh Ingredients | Substitutions | How to Make | Special Tools and Equipment to Make | What to Serve with Quinoa Tabbouleh | Variations

quinoa tabbouleh with kale and cherries, closeup detail

What’s Tabbouleh

So what precisely is tabbouleh? Historically, tabbouleh is a salad product of chopped parsley, tomatoes, bulgur wheat, onions, and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. Like so many recipes, there are a variety of variations within the elements and the proportions. Totally different cultural cuisines have variations on a finely chopped parsley salad and name it by totally different names. Generally it’s spelled in English as “tabouli.”

How Wholesome is Tabbouleh?

So if conventional parsley tabbouleh with bulgur is so wholesome, why trouble making these swaps? Effectively, it isn’t a lot about taking out elements, as it’s about shoving in elements with totally different nutrient profiles that you just may not in any other case get. Let’s do some light-weight evaluation.

Perhaps you are not consuming tabbouleh as a result of parsley has a fairly sturdy natural, vegetal perfume that may lean nearly towards freshly mown garden clippings? Kale, although barely more durable, does have a much less intensely leafy inexperienced essence and could be simpler to eat than parsley, and you continue to get the nutrient wealthy advantages of contemporary leafy greens.

On the flip facet, I do know individuals who completely is not going to eat a “kale salad,” despite the fact that kale is so extensively, loudly known as a nutrient powerhouse. I get that. Many kale salads simply aren’t that good by design. The leaves are too large to politely match into your mouth and are naturally more durable than different salad greens. I might drive myself to endure by means of these unhealthy kale salads for the diet “trigger.”

Nevertheless, you will get contemporary kale into your weight-reduction plan in the event you chop it up tremendous finely, evenly therapeutic massage it down with a excessive acid, excessive salt dressing, and add different elements that make your complete dish too good to not shovel with a spoon. Like this Quinoa Tabbouleh.

Why Quinoa vs Bulgur for Tabbouleh

Bulgur is cracked kernels of complete grains of wheat which might be parboiled, in order that they cook dinner sooner at house. Suppose: in the identical vein as rolled oats, which cook dinner extra rapidly than common complete oats. As a result of bulgur is a product of wheat, it’s a true grain and incorporates gluten.

Quinoa, although it seems like a grain, is just not a grain in any respect, however is definitely a seed. It’s gluten-free. Quinoa is indigenous to South America, and in the event you keep in mind, at one level it was marketed as a “superfood.” That terminology is debatable throughout the board, BUT quinoa incorporates all 9 important amino acids, making it an entire protein that is plant-based.

Diet-wise, each bulgur and quinoa are low in saturated fats and excessive in fiber, with bulgur edging out quinoa simply barely in each circumstances. Nevertheless, cup for cup, quinoa not solely has extra protein than bulgur—8 grams of protein vs 5.6 grams per cup—however the protein in quinoa is an entire protein.

As a result of selection in your weight-reduction plan is essential to creating certain you get all of the vitamins your physique wants, including quinoa whenever you already eat wheat (or different complete grains for that matter) in different components of your weight-reduction plan, is an efficient technique to get some added plant-based protein.

Clearly, if you’re avoiding gluten, quinoa is the apparent alternative as a result of it’s gluten-free.

Why Kale vs Parsley for Tabbouleh

If parsley is so nutrient dense, why substitute it out? This is the reality. I really like love love LOVE the concept of kale. As somebody whose meals focus is on nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory recipes, I revere kale as a powerhouse.

However I do not discover myself consuming it as a lot as I would love as a result of, truthfully, I don’t truly like consuming uncooked kale. I attempted to love it. I actually did. And for a sizzling second I believed I might need. I ate each sort of kale salad, roasted my very own kale chips, sauteed it with garlic prefer it was a much less shrink-y spinach.

In relation to utilizing kale as a leafy inexperienced in salad although, it lacks the refreshing crisp and satisfying crunch of precise lettuces. That is as a result of kale is not actually a lettuce. It is a member of the Brassica household, together with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. And given the selection of brassicas for cooking or roasting, I might select broccoli or Brussels sprouts over kale.

Diet-wise, parsley and kale have totally different profiles. However shockingly, I eat much more parsley within the type of salsa verde, pesto, and even secondary salad greens, than I do kale. So if there’s a chance so as to add some kale, why not take it?

Why Cherries vs Tomatoes for Tabbouleh

Tomatoes are the richest dietary supply of the phytonutrient lycopene so there’s truly a purpose so as to add MORE tomatoes. However the common individual has simpler entry to tomatoes, which can be found yr round-ish, than to cherries, which have a really quick early summer time season. As a result of cherries have a formidable nutrient profile, it is value substituting them IN once they’re accessible, and consuming tomatoes which might be accessible the remainder of the 11 months of the yr.

Now some again story: there was a cut-off date once I was truly allergic to tomatoes. There’s a good longer again story as to how I developed that allergy, however that is drama for an additional day. A lot of what and the way I eat, plant-forward, Mediterranean, includes tomatoes, that I needed to discover methods to substitute. In contemporary preparations like salads, making a substitution is fairly simple. Any tart, subtly candy fruit is an ideal stand-in for a tomato, which is definitely a fruit, too.

Cherries are a pure (to me) substitute for tomatoes. They’ve the correct colour, clearly, and although the frequent candy cherries are little, effectively, sweeter, than tomatoes, bitter cherries can add the identical sort of tomato tartness.

quinoa tabbouleh with kale and cherries, ingredients list mise en place

What You Want for Quinoa Tabbouleh with Cherries and Kale

Quinoa Tabbouleh solely has 5 foremost elements. And even in the event you add within the seasoning elements lemon, olive oil, and salt, that is solely eight whole elements for a brilliant flavorful salad. You will want:

  • Kale. Any number of kale works, although I’ve a choice, see beneath
  • Cherries, contemporary, and if you could find tart cherries, even higher
  • Cucumbers for that satisfyingly refreshing crunch
  • Quinoa. A protein-packed substitute for the extra conventional bulgur. It has a distinct diet profile that could be higher fitted to sure dietary wants (gluten-free, plant-based protein)
  • Crimson onions for the chew
  • Lemon for that acid hit
  • Olive oil, salt, and black pepper (in the event you like black pepper) as standard

Components Notes and Substitutions

Kale. You should utilize any number of kale, however my private choice for Quinoa Tabbouleh is inexperienced kale aka curly kale, moderately than Tuscan aka lacinato kale or Russian Crimson kale. Not solely is curly kale brighter inexperienced, however the curls give the tabbouleh a little bit extra texture and quantity.
Cherries. Recent cherries are in season within the US from Might to August. The cherries we see in common grocery shops are candy cherries like yellow Rainier cherries and darkish pink Bing cherries. Any selection is ok for this recipe. In case you reside in a cherry rising area or close to a Center Jap market, you may have the ability to discover bitter cherries. If you cannot discover contemporary cherries, substitute the equal quantity of chopped strawberries, or return to the OG tomatoes. Don’t use dried cherries or frozen cherries.
Cucumbers. The small, thin-skinned Persian cucumbers are all the time my go-to cucumber. They’re tender and don’t require peeling, which implies you get the diet advantages of consuming chlorophyll-rich inexperienced pores and skin. English hothouse cucumbers even have a skinny pores and skin. If you need to use common cucumbers, peel the robust pores and skin off and scoop out the seeds earlier than chopping.
Quinoa. There are various kinds of quinoa that vary in colour and texture from darkish black to tender white. Totally different varieties are suited higher to totally different makes use of. I used white quinoa on this recipe and nearly all the time for every other preparation as a result of I choose the tender texture. I typically substitute quinoa for rice, and the white quinoa is closest in texture to rice. In a salad, pink and black quinoas are nice as a result of they maintain their form very effectively. This is the brand of quinoa I use.
Crimson onions. Soak the chopped pink onions in ice chilly water to drag out a number of the stronger onion taste. Because you soak the pink onions for 10-Quarter-hour, chop them first and begin soaking them. Whereas they’re soaking, prep the opposite elements.
Olive oil. I take advantage of this brand of every day olive oil for salads when the flavors of the opposite elements are fairly sturdy and the olive oil will not be as distinguished.
Salt. I take advantage of this Kosher salt.

quinoa tabbouleh with kale and cherries, mixing bowl

Methods to Make Quinoa Tabbouleh

Essentially the most essential a part of making Quinoa Tabbouleh is ensuring the kale is tremendous finely chopped. Not solely does a wonderful chop make the kale extra digestible, it makes the salad simpler to eat. The tabbouleh needs to be spoonable. Spoon salads are a lifestyle.

As soon as the kale is tremendous finely chopped, you’ll be able to select to evenly therapeutic massage lemon juice and salt into the chopped leaves to additional soften the kale. Nevertheless, as a result of the leaves are so finely chopped, you’ll be able to skip this step.

(While you make future kale salads during which the kale items are bigger than a pumpkin seed, don’t skip the massaging step!)

After that, you simply toss every thing right into a mixing bowl and toss along with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt!

The one particular tools you may want for this recipe is a cherry pitter. Nevertheless, as a result of I’m LOATHE to advocate that you just purchase a instrument that does just one job, I extremely advocate you merely pit cherries with a wine bottle and a chopstick. Additionally, you will want:

  • Salad spinner. You must get the kale actually REALLY dry so it might take in the seasonings whenever you therapeutic massage it. I’ve been utilizing the identical salad spinner for 100 years as a result of I’m too low cost to purchase a brand new one when this one nonetheless works completely wonderful. They do not make issues like they used to. Oh my god I’m my Dad.
  • Cutting board
  • Santoku knife, which I discover simpler to make use of for chopping sturdier greens, together with kale
  • Citrus juicer for the lemon
  • Glass mixing bowls. I take advantage of these to toss salads. I additionally use them to eat out of once I’m too lazy to get a correct salad plate and in addition do not wish to wash one other rattling dish.

As a facet be aware, you’ll be able to the truth is use a cherry pitter to pit olives as effectively, however truthfully, that simply looks as if overkill. When would you ever have to have a really cleanly pitted olive aside from for stuffing with blue cheese for a martini? Through which case, simply purchase pre-pitted olives. Okay, that is my rant for the day.

quinoa tabbouleh with kale and cherries, white bowl

What to Serve with Quinoa Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh is usually served as a part of mezze, a Mediterranean model of serving and consuming plenty of cold and warm appetizer-sized meals like hummus, baba ghanoush, and falafel. You should utilize torn pita bread, pita chips, and even romaine lelttuce leaves to scoop up the Quinoa Tabbouleh.

To place collectively your individual Mediterranean Mezze feast, make this Quinoa Tabbouleh, together with these extra recipes. Serve in their very own bowls and plates or place them on one Epic Mediterranean Mezze Platter:

Since Quinoa Tabbouleh is actually a really finely chopped salad, serve it such as you would every other leafy greens-heavy salad. It may be a facet dish to a bigger foremost dish like a spice-rubbed grilled hen or easy seared salmon. You can even eat an enormous bowl by itself as a salad with a little bit further protein added on high. To maintain it vegetarian, add chopped nuts or chickpeas. I’ll or could not make a cocktail party measurement batch of Quinoa Tabbouleh, and eat all of it on my own over the course of some meals.

quinoa tabbouleh with kale and cherries and walnuts

Tabbouleh Variations

If we’re going so far as changing nearly each ingredient in conventional tabbouleh save the lemon juice and olive oil, why not attempt a number of extra variations to actually get some totally different leafy greens, greens, and pink fruit into your weight-reduction plan? Listed below are some options:

  • Begin with chopped parsley or kale or each. There aren’t too many different “impartial” leafy greens with the identical nutrient density.
  • Add a number of tablespoons of chopped contemporary herbs like mint
  • For the tart pink fruit, attempt chopped strawberries in spring, persimmons in fall, and pomegranate arils in winter.
  • You may make tabbouleh actually actually grain-free by utilizing chopped cauliflower “grains” as a substitute of bulgur or quinoa. That is a fairly large fiber hit there.
  • As an alternative of pink onions, use inexperienced onions/scallions
  • As an alternative of cucumber for crunch, you’ll be able to attempt apples within the fall. Chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav in Philadelphia makes a version like this!

Print Recipe

Quinoa Tabbouleh recipe with Kale and Cherries

Add some leafy inexperienced and antioxidant selection to your conventional tabbouleh. Quinoa provides an entire plant-based protein, kale is wealthy with totally different antioxidant from parsley, and cherries are an anti-inflammatory powerhouse!

Course: Salad, Facet Dish

Delicacies: Mediterranean, center japanese

Key phrase: kale, mediterranean weight-reduction plan, quinoa, tabbouleh

Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 bunch kale thick heart stems eliminated, leaves measuring about 3 cups packed
  • 3 Persian cucumbers finely chopped
  • 2 cups cherries pitted and chopped
  • ½ small pink onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • juice from 1 complete lemon, about ¼ cup plus extra as wanted
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus extra as wanted
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • non-compulsory: floor black pepper


  • Very finely chop kale leaves, items concerning the measurement of pumpkin seeds. Place chopped kale in a big mixing bowl. Add half the lemon juice and half the salt. Evenly therapeutic massage the lemon juice and salt into the kale leaves to additional break down the kale.

  • Add chopped cherries, cucumber, pink onions, and quinoa to bowl. Add remaining lemon juice and salt. Toss elements collectively, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.

  • Style and add extra lemon juice, salt, and/or olive oil. Season with contemporary cracked black pepper in the event you’re into that.

  • Leftovers will be saved in an hermetic container within the fridge for someday. After a day, the tabbouleh is not going to be unhealthy, however the kale and cucumbers can be soggy.

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