This Quinoa Chickpea Tabbouleh Salad is a twist on the Lebanese classic recipe! With added chickpeas and quinoa in place of the usual bulgur wheat, this high-fiber, high-protein salad is a meal on it’s own. It’s also delicious stuffed into a pita pocket sandwich, especially with the leftovers for an easy lunch!
Traditional tabbouleh (aka tabouli) is always heavy on the parsley, and you’ll need a LOT for this recipe. It’s great if you have a ton in your garden, like me, but you can also usually find big bunches at the store.
And usually, tabbouleh uses bulgur wheat, which is partially cooked cracked wheat berries. This salad uses quinoa instead, plus chickpeas, which are high in fiber and protein, widely accessible, and just happen to be gluten-free, if that’s your thing.
Cucumbers aren’t usually in traditional tabbouleh, but I added them for a cool crunch and more veggies.
Everything is tossed in a simple dressing of lemon juice and zest (because I never waste the zest if I can help it!), and PLENTY of extra-virgin olive oil.
The balance of protein, fiber, healthy carbs, and healthy fats in the salad makes it super satiating and you’ll love all the fresh flavors! And it couldn’t be easier to make.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Canned or cooked chickpeas
- Quinoa – I recommend white quinoa.
- Parsley – lots of it! Italian flat-leaf is best.
- Mint – optional, but delicious.
- Green onions – finely diced red can also be used, but will have a stronger flavor.
- Fresh lemon juice and zest
- Extra-virgin olive oil
How to prevent soggy tabbouleh salad
To prevent the salad from being soggy and waterlogged, especially with leftovers, you need to remove as much excess liquid as possible. Here are two tips for this:
- Cook the quinoa and chickpeas together with less water than usual. This will soften the canned chickpeas, which can sometimes be a bit hard, and using less water than usual will allow the quinoa more “room” to absorb some of the dressing or other excess liquids in the salad.
- If using a large juicy tomato, chop it up and place it in a mesh sieve over a bowl while the quinoa cooks and while you’re prepping other ingredients. This will allow the water to drain out of the tomato.
- Seed the cucumbers. I used English cucumbers, which are already not as water as other varieties, and I also took out the seeds, which is where most of the water is.
How to serve Tabbouleh salad
This tabbouleh salad is a meal on its own with the added protein! But it’s also delicious served with pita bread, grilled halloumi cheese, grilled chicken, or Greek meatballs. And the leftovers are delicious stuffed in a pita pocket, with some sliced feta cheese if you want, or an easy lunch.
I’ve already made this recipe 3 times and I have no plans to stop. I hope you give this delicious Quinoa Chickpea Tabbouleh Salad a try!
Other full-meal salad recipes
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Quinoa Chickpea Tabbouleh Salad
- ½ cup quinoa (preferably white, see notes)
- 15 oz. canned chickpeas
- 1 cup chopped parsley (about one bunch from the store)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint (optional, but recommended!)
- 1 large tomato diced (see notes)
- 4 green onions thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
- 1 medium cucumber seeded and diced
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for serving as needed
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus the zest (from about 1 small lemon)
- kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- In a mesh sieve, drain the canned chickpeas. Add the uncooked quinoa (½ cup) and rinse both the quinoa and chickpeas off very well. Add the chickpeas and quinoa to a medium sized pot, along with ¾ cups of water and a pinch of kosher salt. Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, stir, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow it to sit, covered, for at least 5 more minutes.
- While the quinoa is cooking is a great time to prep all your other ingredients – chop the parsley, dice the tomato and cucumber, etc. (See notes if using a large, watery tomato.)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil (¼ cup) with the lemon juice and lemon zest (from about 1 lemon), a generous pinch of kosher salt, and a few turns of fresh cracked black pepper.
- Add the cooked quinoa and chickpeas to the dressing in the large bowl and stir together to coat. For best results, stick the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes or so to allow the ingredients to cool down.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl (diced tomato, diced cucumber, chopped parsley, chopped mint, and sliced green onions). Stir everything together. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Serve, preferably drizzled with a little more olive oil and cracked pepper.
- Quinoa comes in many colors – white, red, and black being the most common. Similarly to rice, white quinoa cooks the fastest and has the fluffiest texture. I recommend using white quinoa for this, as the texture will be similar to the more traditional bulgur tabbouleh ingredient, and because the prep is faster.
- The quinoa is cooked a little dry on purpose. If I were cooking quinoa as a side, I would use more water to cook it. But because it is tossed with a dressing and other watery ingredients, and in order to mimic the texture of bulgur wheat, it’s best to have it a little dry for this salad.
- If using a large, watery tomato, you may want to dice the tomato and place it in a mesh sieve over a bowl while you prep the other ingredients. The juices will drip out, leaving you with dryer tomato that will work better in the salad. You can also pat the diced tomato with a paper towel (side note: I also do this when I make sandwiches with sliced tomato to make them less soggy!).
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools: