This gluten-free tabbouleh recipe substitutes quinoa in lieu of bulgar wheat. It's the perfect ingredient substitution for anyone with gluten intolerance. Tabouli, or tabbouleh, is a popular Lebanese superfood parsley salad.
This classic Middle Eastern dish is made with fresh parsley, tomatoes, onion, fresh mint, lemon juice, olive oil, and quinoa. For a traditional tabbouleh salad made with bulgur wheat grains, try this authentic tabouli salad.
What's Great About This Recipe
This healthy salad is jam-packed with essential amino acids and all kinds of superfood goodness going on. The salad dressing is simple, made with virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and juice from the tomatoes. Quinoa adds extra protein to this vegan salad.
Quinoa tabouli salad is great for meal prep. Serve as a side salad, side dish, or part of a mezze platter.
- Quinoa: Cook the quinoa ahead of time so it can cool off a bit. I use white quinoa because it's the closest color to bulgar wheat.
- Italian parsley: Tabouli salad uses a whole lot of parsley. Flat leaf and curly parsley are the two main fresh parsley types found in your local grocery store. I recommend flat leaf parsley (also known as Italian parsley). It resembles cilantro (coriander) but doesn't taste like cilantro. Be careful not to buy cilantro because you will end up with pico de gallo instead of tabouli.
- Fresh mint: This is a really important ingredient in this recipe. Actually, it's the secret ingredient, and only a privileged few know about this secret ingredient.
- Onion: You can go a few different ways here. I normally make my tabbouleh with half spring onion and half white onion. However, you can choose to use only spring onion or only white onion. Either way, the quantity will be the same. Substitute red onion, yellow onion, or brown onion for white onion
- Fresh tomatoes: I use tomatoes on the vine for my tabouli recipe. Tomato quality makes a difference; you want to splurge a little on some good red and juicy tomatoes.
- Lemons: You will need fresh lemon juice for this recipe made from squeezed lemons. Bottled lemon juice doesn't taste the same.
- Olive Oil: I use high-quality extra virgin olive oil, which in my book means that the olive oil is not blended with any other oils. I want that EVOO to be 100%.
- Salt and Pepper: You can use pink Himalayan sea salt, sea salt, flaked sea salt, or regular table salt.
How to Make Quinoa Tabbouleh
Prepare quinoa. Cook quinoa and set it aside to cool in a small bowl. I found the easiest way to cook fluffy quinoa is to boil it with a lot of water until tender and strain it.
Chop the parsley. Discard the parsley stems. Finely chop the parsley leaves as fine as possible. Add the chopped parsley to a strainer bowl. Wash the chopped parsley. Let the parsley drain while preparing the other ingredients.
Chop the mint. Remove mint leaves. Chop mint finely just like the parsley.
Chop the tomatoes. Slice the tomatoes into thin circles. Then slice the tomatoes like you would make a tic tac toe board. You want the tomatoes as fine as the chopped parsley.
Chop the onions. If you use spring onion, chop the spring onions into thin pieces. If you use white onion, slice the onion just like you slice the tomatoes.
Squeeze the lemons. Using a lemon juicer, squeeze the lemons.
Assemble the salad bowl. Add all of the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Add the olive oil and salt to taste. Mix well.
Tips and Variations
- Wash and chop the parsley finely. You can remove the leaves from the parsley stem one by one (the long way) OR cut the leaves away from the stem (as in the video).
- Use quinoa or bulgar wheat. If you would like to change out the quinoa for bulgar wheat, I have included those instructions in the recipe card (or check out this bulgar wheat tabouli recipe). The authentic way to make tabouli is by using bulgar wheat.
Substitutions and Variations
Traditional Lebanese tabbouleh recipes do not add feta cheese, English cucumbers, lemon zest, or sunflower seeds. That doesn't mean you can't experiment with what makes sense to you.
- A very sharp chef's knife
- Cutting board
- Large salad bowl
- Pot with a lid (to cook quinoa)
- Mesh strainer (to strain quinoa)
Store the quinoa tabbouleh salad in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I don't recommend freezing or warming it up. You can eat tabbouleh cold directly from the fridge or allow it to get to room temperature before eating.
In my honest and humble opinion, tabbouleh tastes better the next day. The salad sweats a little bit overnight, so don't be surprised by the level of salad juice the next day. The salad juice actually has a name, zoom, and it's not your conference calling software.
Tabbouleh's main ingredient is parsley, which is considered a superfood.
This tabbouleh recipe is gluten-free because it uses quinoa instead of bulgar wheat. If you make the salad with bulgar wheat then it is not gluten-free.
Yes. Quinoa tabbouleh is vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free.
Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Salad with Quinoa
- 6 bunches of Italian parsley about 8 cups of chopped parsley
- 2 cups of cooked quinoa about ¾ cup of dry quinoa** see notes
- 6 medium tomatoes
- 1 white onion
- 2 spring onion sprigs
- 5 large lemons
- 1 bunch of fresh mint
- ½ cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook quinoa and set aside to cool down.
- Wash the parsley in a large tub of water. Remove the parsley leaves and chop very finely. Add to the salad bowl.
- Remove mint leaves. Chop mint finely just like the parsley.
- Slice the tomatoes in thin circles. Slice the tomatoes long ways then horizontally into fine pieces about the same size as the chopped parsley.
- If you are using spring onion, slice the spring onion into thin pieces. If you are using white onion, slice the onion just like you slice the tomatoes.
- Using a lemon juicer, squeeze the lemons.
- Add all of the ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
- You can substitute cracked bulgar wheat #1 instead of quinoa to make the authentic Lebanese tabbouleh recipe. Soak 1 cup of dry bulgar wheat in a warm cup of water until the bulgar wheat is soft (about 1 hour). Drain and add to the salad.
- You can add an extra ¼ cup of olive oil depending on the taste.