Parsley takes center stage

Our furniture still hasn’t arrived but at least we now have a home to call our own. One of the most pleasant side benefits is the three raised beds already planted with lettuce, tomatoes, basil, rosemary and parsley…tons of parsley.

The parsley plant is so big that I’ll never keep up with it by just using a little here and there. So one of the first dishes I prepared in my spiffy new kitchen was a parsley salad with quinoa.

This salad takes its inspiration from tabbouleh, the Middle Eastern salad traditionally made with a little bulgur and a lot of parsley.  I’ve given it a twist with quinoa, which offers more protein.  Sliced radishes add a bit more crunch and lemon zest pumps up the citrus flavors in the garlicky dressing.

Parsley, though, is the star.  Its fresh, mildly herbal flavor makes this an ideal salad for summer barbecues and picnics.  Since I didn’t have any of the usual mint, I left it out and never missed it.

The trick to this salad is keeping the quinoa from getting too mushy.  I’m no fan of quinoa cooked until the grains are indistinguishable.

Toasting the grains before cooking helps.  So does spreading the cooked quinoa out on a tray or a couple of plates to cool before dressing it for the salad.  You can skip the toasting step, but the cooling in a thin layer is essential.  That stops the grains from cooking and allows more moisture to evaporate.

Just don’t skimp on the parsley!

Serves 6-8

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Zest of 1 lemon
4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 fat handfuls or bunches of parsley, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 pound grape tomatoes, quartered
10 medium radishes, sliced

Rinse the quinoa in cool water and drain in a fine-meshed strainer.  Place rinsed grains in a nonstick skillet and toast, stirring frequently, over medium heat until all liquid has evaporated and the grains are beginning to brown and pop.  This should take about 10-15 minutes.   Pour water into a medium saucepan, add toasted grain and about 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir and bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to low, cover pan with lid and simmer 12-14 minutes, just until tender.  Check several times while you’re cooking to make sure the grains don’t overcook.

Turn cooked quinoa out onto a tray or a couple of plates to cool while you prepare the other ingredients. Fluff the grains occasionally with a fork to separate.

When the quinoa is cool, whisk together the lemon juice, zest, garlic and olive oil with salt and pepper to taste.  Transfer grains to a medium bowl and dress with the vinaigrette Toss and let stand for a minimum of 10 minutes and up to an hour.

Just before serving, add the parsley, green onions, cucumber, tomatoes and radishes to the quinoa.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Toss and taste.  You may need to squeeze a little more lemon over the salad for brighter flavor.

Serve at room temperature.

Aleta Watson





One thought on “Parsley takes center stage”

  1. congratulations on your new home – with a kitchen i can see is so ready to be filled with sounds and smells of inspired Aletacooking. and what a bonus to have those raised beds already planted – it’s a sign! thanks especially for the tips on de-mushing quinoa…

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