~ Just a few simple ingredients yield bold, bright flavors in this Easy Kale and Quinoa Tabouli Salad! With the addition of super-nutritious kale and the swap of protein-packed, gluten-free quinoa instead of the traditional bulgur wheat, this delicious spin on tabouli salad has all the flavors and textures you love, with healthy advantages you’ll feel great about! Plus, it makes a big, big batch that keeps well for several days – a perfect make-ahead for busy weeks! ~
This Recipe Is: • Make Ahead • Vegan (and Vegetarian) • Gluten Free •
From the mouths of babes … seriously.
I had so many things I wanted to tell you about this Tabouli Salad recipe (because you know I’m never short on stuff to say!) … and along came a little guy named Marcus (maybe six years old, tops) who totally stole my thunder, summing this recipe up in just two adorably perfect words: Exploding Good. Best compliment ever! I’m thinking of hiring the little guy for our marketing department (well … if we had one …).
You see, we “debuted” this recipe last weekend, during a cooking demo Two Healthy Kitchens did at a big, local farmers’ market.
My very favorite part of the whole, wonderful day was watching lots of little kiddos (like Marcus) as they skeptically eyeballed our samples of this tabouli before finally, cautiously trying it … and then seeing their sweet faces slowly light up with huge, completely surprised, “I like it!!!” grins.
My nutrition-loving-self secretly did a happy dance each time. You know … deep down inside, where nobody could actually watch my dance moves.
Those surprised “I like it!!!” grins are what it’s all about for me … the simple joy of introducing a child to a veggie that tastes better than they’d ever imagined possible.
So I’m not even mad at adorable little “Exploding Good!” Marcus for stealing my thunder. Totally worth it to see his giant smile as he happily chowed down on a mouthful of kale!
Oh, right. Plus I’m still going to tell you all the things I wanted to tell you, anyway!
Like how this recipe all started one day last spring, when my husband and I popped by one of our favorite local Mediterranean restaurants, eagerly preparing to tuck into our usual platters of their delicious hummus and tabouli. But wait … a special little side menu that day offered a different tabouli. Huh. One with kale and quinoa, too. Double-huh. We didn’t hesitate – and we weren’t disappointed!
In fact, I went home and began concocting my own version of Kale and Quinoa Tabouli straightaway, because we knew we needed this new tabouli in our lives (and our fridge) on a regular basis.
A couple batches and a bit of tinkering later, and it had just the flavor profile, just the balance and brightness and texture we wanted. Plus, it made such a whopping big batch that we gleefully noshed on it for days … so perfect because tabouli tends to just get better and better as it sits.
There’s a lot about this Kale and Quinoa Tabouli that’s the same as regular tabouli … and also a lot that’s different.
So How’s This Tabouli Salad the Same as Regular Tabouli?
Primarily, the flavor. Fresh parsley and bright lemon, juicy tomatoes and spicy-sweet onions. This tastes like … well … like tabouli.
It’s seriously surprising how much you truly just don’t notice that there’s kale (a whole heaping lot of kale!) in there.
At the Farm Market last weekend, we didn’t just meet skeptical kiddos, but also some pretty skeptical adults, too – and quite a few people who said they simply didn’t like kale. And yet, time after time after time, I was thrilled as they tasted our tabouli, and exclaimed in surprise that they loved this recipe after all – and couldn’t even taste the kale. Surprising … but true!
And How’s This Tabouli Salad Different from Regular Tabouli?
First off, because we’ve swapped in quinoa instead of the more traditional bulgur wheat, this tabouli is gluten free. And quinoa boasts loads of protein, too, so it combines perfectly with all the great fiber in this recipe to offer a terrific, keep-you-full combination of nutrients. (Hint: if you’re already a quinoa addict – or want to become one – be sure to check out ALL our healthy, easy Quinoa Recipes!)
And also kale. Lots and lots of kale. I mean really … A LOT. And when it comes to nutrition, kale doesn’t mess around. It’s rich in vitamins A, C and K, plus oodles of polyphenols and phytochemicals. Kale’s a “superfood” darling for a reason!
But you know what? For all this talk of nutrients and protein and gluten free … it can all be summed up really, really simply: Exploding good.
That’s really all you need to know! (Thanks, Marcus! 😀 )
* P.S. Hugs to my best buddy, Gretchen. These photos of the Kale and Quinoa Tabouli Salad are the last that I’ve had stockpiled from the recipes she photographed back before she formally left THK to pursue her dream of working more closely with special needs kiddos. Cheers to so very many fun THK days together, my friend! Miss you bunches! xoxo
More Big-Batch Salads to Love All Week Long …
- Kale Chopped Salad with Berries and Freekeh (or Quinoa)
- Hearty Fruit and Nut Salad with Greek Yogurt Dressing
- Easy, Healthy Chicken Salad with Quinoa, Tomatoes, Lemon and Basil
- 1/2 cup uncooked red quinoa (any color variety of quinoa will work)
- 8 cups finely chopped kale (tough stems removed) (see note)
- 3 cups finely chopped fresh flat leaf (Italian) parsley (from about 2 big bunches)
- 2 1/2 cups seeded, chopped tomato (about 4 medium tomatoes)
- 1 cup finely chopped sweet onion (about 1/2 a large onion)
- 1 tablespoon very finely minced fresh mint
- 1/2 cup lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- Prepare quinoa according to package directions and allow to cool completely.
- In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, kale, parsley, tomatoes, onion, and mint, stirring to mix thoroughly.
- In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, making sure that all salt is dissolved.
- Pour dressing over kale mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
- Although you can serve this immediately, we recommend that you refrigerate it for at least an hour or two to let the flavors meld. Alternately, you can refrigerate this tabouli, covered, for several days.
Kale: To achieve 8 cups of finely chopped kale, we typically start with about 7-10 ounces of roughly chopped, bagged kale or about 11-12 ounces of whole kale leaves (about 1 large bunch). The wide variance is due mainly to the amount of stems you may or may not need to remove. Once you've removed the tough stems (we generally remove some of the stems, even from the chopped, bagged kale), and you've finely chopped your kale, those starting weights should yield about 8 cups. Note, though, that if you choose not to chop your kale as finely as we did (see our photos for reference), then that will also change the relationship between your kale's starting weight and your ending yield.