of Quinoa Tabbouleh, or desert island fare

This is in my desert island top 10. What I mean is that if I had starred in the pilot episode of Lost and woken up in airplane wreckage on a remote island, I would have shaken off the trauma stupor and gotten right down to business.

I’d scour that island and harvest grain, pluck parsley, pick tomatoes and uncover wild garlic bulbs. With these ingredients I’d make tabbouleh, and all of the relational strife and crazy metaphysical plotlines would fizzle to a halt before they even began. It’s probably good that the Lost screenwriters didn’t write me and my tabbouleh into the show, because they would have written themselves out of a job.

But moving right along — this knock-out salad hails from the Arab and Mediterranean realms, where it is traditionally made with bulghar (cracked wheat). Taking creative liberties as I do, I’ve also used barley, wheatberries, buckwheat, and other grains with great success, but quinoa is my latest grain/seed darling. Gluten-free and high in protein, it makes a gorgeous riff on the original tabbouleh.

In this version, I’ve left out the fresh mint that often accompanies the parsley, chopped the parsley more roughly than usual, and switched out the traditional lemon juice for lime. Just because I can.


serves 4

1 cup (dry) quinoa

1 hefty bunch flat-leaf parsley

1 handful cherry tomatoes

1 clove garlic

1/2 cucumber

Juice of one lime

Olive oil


Black pepper

Cook the quinoa til it’s fluffy but still has a slight bite. Drain and let it cool completely. Roughly chop the parsley and halve the cherry tomatoes, dice the cucumber and mince the garlic. Use as many different chopping terms as possible. Add the cooled quinoa, then dress with the lime juice and several generous drizzles of olive oil. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper until you’re completely satisfied that you wouldn’t survive on a desert island without this stuff, too.