Toasted Quinoa Tabbouleh

Servings: 4

1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt, divided
1/3 cup olive oil
3/4 cup lemon juice (from 4 small lemons)
2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
1/2 teaspoon The Vegetarian Express Pepper Like Seasoning (optional)
2 cups diced tomatoes or quartered cherry tomatoes
1 1/2 cups parsley, chopped
3 unpeeled Persian cucumbers, diced (1⅓ cups)
4 green onions, thinly sliced (1 cup)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

1. Rinse quinoa in fine mesh strainer under cool running water. Drain.
2. Heat large skillet over medium heat.
3. Add quinoa, and toast 10 minutes, or until moisture evaporates and quinoa is fragrant and golden, stirring constantly with flat-tipped spoon or rice paddle.
4. Bring 21/2 cups water to boil in saucepan.
5. Add ¼ tsp. salt, then add quinoa.
6. Return to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover pan, and simmer 
20 minutes, or until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed.
7. Fluff quinoa with a fork, and transfer to large bowl to cool.
8. Meanwhile, whisk together oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper like seasoning, and remaining 1½ tsp. salt in small bowl.
9. Stir tomatoes, parsley, cucumbers, green onions, and mint into cooled quinoa. Pour dressing over top, and toss to coat.
10. Serve at room temperature, or cover and refrigerate until salad is cold.

Quinoa lends itself well to the herbs and citrus of tabbouleh, and packs more plant protein than the traditional grain used, bulgur wheat. Taste and adjust the seasonings before serving the salad, as the grains may absorb some of the added flavor.