Mixed Grain Tabbouleh

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Traditional tabbouleh is made with bulgur, chickpeas, cucumbers, red onions, lemon juice, olive oil, mint and cilantro.    I really enjoy this variation which mixes two grains…..bulgur and quinoa……along with roasted eggplant instead of the cucumbers.   I use a basil flavored olive oil on both the eggplant and in the salad dressing.

For those of you who are no are not familiar with these grains, here is a little background.

Bulgur is usually sold in a parboiled state and dried, with only a very small amount of the bran partially removed.   Bulgur is recognized as a whole grain by the U.S.D.A. and the Whole Grains Council.     Bulgur is sometimes confused with cracked wheat, which is crushed wheat grain that has not been parboiled.

Quinoa (the name is derived from the Spanish spelling of the Quechua name kinwa or occasionally “Qin-wah”) originated in the Andean region of Ecuador, Bolivia, Columbia and Peru where it was successfully domesticated 3,000 to 4,000 years ago for human consumption, though archeological evidence shows a non-domesticated association with pastoral herding some 5,200 to 7,000 years ago.    Because of the health benefits of quinoa, it is sometimes referred to as a super food.   It is also gluten free.

If you want to make this recipe gluten free, simply make it with only quinoa.  Or for a variation, use half plain quinoa mixed with either red or black quinoa.   The red or black versions of quinoa have a bit more “crunch” and will give a gluten free version both additional texture and color!

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Mixed Grain Tabbouleh

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 1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper plus a few grinds of pepper for the finished salad
5 to 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup bulgur
2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped mint
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup small tear drop or cherry tomatoes, halved (I used a mixture of yellow and red tomatoes)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped red onion

Additional add ons if desired
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.    Lightly spray a baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.    Place the eggplant cubes in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.   Drizzle with enough of the olive oil to lightly coat the eggplant.

Place in an even layer on the prepared pan and roast for approximately 12 to 17 minutes or until tender and lightly browned.  Be careful not to burn them.

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil.  Add 1/4 teaspoon salt.   Add the bulgur and boil for 5 minutes.   Add the quinoa and cook on a simmer for approximately 10 to 12 minutes or until the quinoa begins to “pop” open and are tender.    Drain and rinse with cold water to cool down the grains.   Place in a large mixing bowl.

Mix in the mint, cilantro, cooled eggplant, tomatoes, chickpeas and red onion.

Mix together the lemon juice and 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil (use less olive oil if you prefer a more tart dressing).   Toss in the salad.   Season with remaining salt and a few grinds of black pepper.   Garnish with springs of fresh cilantro and/or mint.

 

 

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