Now that spring is here, we can turn up the volume on our favorite salads. While a lettuce salad can be super satisfying (like this one), what I really dig is a “salad” that kicks lettuce to the curb and incorporates other ingredients.
Creating this kind of “salad” calls on what you have on hand and what you love. Choose a grain for the base and add anything you want to make it yours. Roasted veg. You bet. Chopped raw vegetables, absolutely. Herbs, of course. Toasted nuts, it goes without saying. Cheese crumbles, please. And a simple vinaigrette.
Known as “Jennifer Aniston’s favorite salad,” this recipe caught my attention for a few reasons. No, I am not a fan girl. But I think it’s fair to say she has aged gracefully and looks as good today as she did when she was Rachel on “Friends” from 1994-2004. Legend has it this was the salad she ate every day on set.
The recipe is a contemporary spin on tabouli, which I love, and has a kicked-up feel, which I also love. And I have adapted the recipe a bit. Though tabouli uses cracked wheat, I prefer quinoa because it’s gluten-free and packed with protein. Add assorted colors, textures and flavors to make this an addictive salad worthy of eating every day.
Add parsley and mint for fresh and herbaceous undertones, red onion for a sweet bite and texture, cucumber just because we love cucumbers, garbanzo beans for protein and pistachios for crunch and color while a lemon vinaigrette brings it together.
If you are making this recipe in advance, leave out the cucumbers and nuts as they will get soggy if added to the entire batch. I add them to each plate before serving, along with a few cherry tomatoes for color.
Feel free to add a slab of protein. Grilled salmon, shrimp or chicken pair well with this dish. And if you feel the meal needs another side, serve a simple green salad to make this a well-rounded meal for the whole family.
While tabouli (also taboulleh) is a staple in Lebanese cooking and the national dish, changing it up with quinoa and adding mint (herb), garbanzo beans (protein), feta (cheese), tomatoes (color) and pistachios (crunch) gives this traditional dish a whole new feel. Consider this a kicked-up tabouli and another cold salad recipe to add to your repertoire.
If you love tabouli, you're going to flip for this more contemporary version that uses quinoa, along with mint, garbanzo beans and feta. Easy to make, this dish comes together without a lot of effort and holds in the fridge for up to three or four days. Be sure to add the cucumbers and the pistachios to each serving, as they will get soggy if added to the whole batch. And feel free to add a few tomatoes as well.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa this results in about 3 cups of cooked quinoa
- kosher or sea salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/2 cup parsley finely chopped
- 1/2 cup mint finely chopped
- 1/3 cup red onion diced
- 1 can garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon juiced
- Glug of champagne or white wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup feta crumbles
- 3 mini-cucumbers or 1 large cucumber chopped
- cherry tomatoes sliced in half or quartered
- 1/2 cup pistachios chopped
In a medium saucepan, cook quinoa according to the directions and allow to cool.
In a big bowl, add the cooked and cooled quinoa, add 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir to combine.
Add the parsley, mint, chopped red onion and garbanzo beans. Toss well.
In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, olive oil and vinegar and blend together. Pour over the quinoa and toss to combine.
Add the feta, stir well and taste. Add 1/4 teaspoon more salt, if desired, and more black pepper and stir again.
Place in the fridge to chill.
When ready to serve, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Add the chopped cucumber, tomatoes and pistachios to the individual plates and enjoy.
Refrigerate any leftovers for up to three to four days, adding more cucumber, tomatoes and pistachios before serving.