Sometimes you can just look at a pile of ingredients and be struck immediately by the dish you should make. This was not one of those moments. All rapidly going bad in various parts of my kitchen were red bell peppers, lemons and parsley. Yet it took a day of mulling it over, thinking about the dishes that I could make, to remember that I had quinoa and could make a slightly modified version of one of my all time favorite dishes, tabbouleh. All of a sudden it was so freakin’ obvious. How could I have missed it?
There is something about the freshness of the citrus combined with the vegetable-crispness texture that is just heavenly with the snap of a perfectly cooked grain. Do the individual ingredients really matter? Not in my book.
Traditionally made with bulgur, I substituted quinoa, usually you’ll see tomatoes, but this time of year? around here? you won’t catch me dead with those mealy, slimy suckers. Red peppers were the perfect thing to replce the forgiving crunch of a fresh, in-season tomato.
To cook quinoa, if you haven’t before, just boil water, like you are making pasta, but you’ll always know when they’re done–you can see their tails come out. I tried to take a close-up so you can see. The quinoa, when it is cooked, transforms to a hard little ball into a tender, translucent sphere with a terrific texture accompanied by a little tail. Try saying that ten times fast. Whew. Drain the quinoa when its tails are out and let it cool. If you are patient. If you are not, as I am not, you can rinse it in cold water and mix it with the rest of your ingredients. For this version I used chopped red bell pepper, white onion, raw garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. This whole dish can be customized for taste–I don’t mind the heat of raw garlic (I chop them very small) or onion, but others might. Place it in the fridge (and here we all have to use our patience!) for 30 minutes, at least, so that the flavors can mingle and marinate, then serve with chopped parsley mixed in at the last minute.