I love the kind of meal that feels festive even though it centers on one simple dish, with a few tasty readymade accompaniments. Case in point is this nearly instant mezze (aka Middle Eastern, aka Mediterranean) platter centered around an easy quinoa tabbouli.
I’ve kept the platter shown here simple with fresh pita bread, olives, rice-stuffed grape leaves, and hummus (choose from your favorite prepared hummus brand or any of the thousands of easy hummus recipes across the web).
For a larger meal, if you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you can make falafel balls from a mix. Must-haves for this kind of platter, in my humble opinion, are olives, pita, and hummus.
Vary this tasty Middle-Eastern themed meal each time you make it with different ingredients from the supermarket olive bar. Marinated artichokes, roasted red bell peppers, and/or pickled vegetables are great choices. You can add fresh raw veggies like carrot and/or celery sticks as well, if you’d like.
If you plan this meal out by cooking the quinoa ahead of time and picking up the rest of the accompaniments on the way home from work, you won’t believe how quickly this meal comes together!
The simple, standard tabbouli recipe gets a couple of twists. Bulgur (pre-steamed cracked wheat) is the grain traditionally used, but quinoa makes it fluffier and lighter, not to mention even higher in protein. It’s gluten free, too. However, feel free to try this with bulgur to return to this recipe’s roots, for a change of pace. Couscous works well, too. Recipe adapted from Plant Power by Nava Atlas.
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed in a fine sieve
- 2 to 3 medium ripe tomatoes, finely diced
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley, or more, to taste
- Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds for topping
- Combine the quinoa with 2 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat. Cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until the water is absorbed.
- Transfer the quinoa to a serving container and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Add the remaining ingredients and toss gently until well combined. Sprinkle the sunflower seeds over the top, if you’d like. Serve at room temperature.
See variations following recipe box.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 96 Total Fat: 5g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 4g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 299mg Carbohydrates: 11g Fiber: 2g Sugar: 2g Protein: 3g
- If you won’t be serving this with hummus, toss in 1 to 1 1/2 cups cooked or canned (drained and rinsed) chickpeas or black beans. Served this way, it becomes more of a main dish salad.
- Make a more substantial salad by serving on a bed of mixed baby greens, baby spinach, or arugula, or a combination.
- Add about half of a crisp cucumber, finely diced, for a refreshing flavor.
- Leftovers of this salad are delicious served in wraps. Spread the wraps with hummus, mound a bit of the tabbouli down the center with any of the greens listed above, and roll up.
Photos by Hannah Kaminsky