Cranberry Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad
A unique spin on traditional tabbouleh - substituting ruby-red cranberries for tomatoes and nutty quinoa for bulgur.
(Disclosure: I entered this recipe into a contest sponsored by Cape Cod Select Premium Cranberries. I was not compensated for the recipe development. All thoughts and opinions are completely my own.)
I've been experimenting with all types of cranberry recipes - appetizers (did you try the Skillet Cranberry Cheddar Dip - AMAZING?!), drinks and now salads.
I love tabbouleh salad when fresh herbs are plentiful. It is light, refreshing and full of flavor. Traditional tabbouleh salad is a Middle Eastern salad made with bulgur wheat, cucumber, tomatoes, parsley and mint. Dressed with a little lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, it is easy to make and a perfect light meal on a warm summer day!
For this recipe I replaced the bulgur wheat with quinoa. Quinoa is a whole-grain (actually it is a seed, but it is classified as a whole-grain) rich in protein and high in B vitamins. I took the liberty of increasing the "grain" proportion in traditional tabbouleh because a) whole grains are good for you! b) the fiber and protein has staying power and c) I like it!
Frozen cranberries subbed for tomatoes in the recipe. I was a little worried that the cranberries would be too tart since there is nothing overly sweet to balance the flavor. I was astonished at how delicious it tasted! The cranberries were the perfect complement to the peppery parsley and salty feta cheese.
Cranberries are one of the first foods coined a "superfood". They are extremely high in antioxidants (Vitamin C and E), phytonutrients (plant nutrients) and fiber. Many of these nutrients are concentrated in the skin of the cranberry so it is best to consume the whole fruit instead of just the juice.
Fresh cranberries are nowhere to be found in these hot summer months, but perhaps an even better choice are these frozen cranberries from Cape Cod Select. Available year-round, they are frozen at the peak of freshness. Bonus - they are washed, ready-to-go and don't even need to be thawed prior to use in this recipe! I've found them in the freezer section of a local grocery store (where to buy Cape Cod Select frozen cranberries) or you can order them online. Cape Cod Select is a family-owned company with over 75 years of experience growing, harvesting, processing and marketing premium frozen cranberries.
While this may not be traditional tabbouleh, I think I like it better! It still has that bright herb flavor, but now with even more good-for-you ingredients!
Cranberry quinoa tabbouleh salad
- 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup cucumber, peeled and chopped (seeded if desired)
- 1 ½ cups cranberries, fresh or frozen (no need to thaw if frozen)
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- 1 Tbsp mint, chopped
- 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
Rinse quinoa to remove any residue. Combine quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit covered for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, fluff with a fork and let cool to room temperature.
Combine quinoa, cucumber, cranberries, parsley, mint and feta cheese in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour over salad and stir gently to combine. Let sit for a few minutes for the flavors to combine (and cranberries to thaw if using frozen) and then serve. Salad will keep for up to 3 days refrigerated.