Quinoa Tabouleh

quinoa tabouleh | Playful Cooking

I have been on a quinoa rush lately. The crunchy bite, good source of protein and fiber, zero guilt feeling – all good. Quinoa Tabouleh with cilantro and feta cheese might not be the route to a traditional Tabouleh but it’s pretty close. It’s refreshing and absolutely spring like!


Yes, spring is here with a clear blue sky, pretty blossoms and long hours of daylight. Oh! How I love longer daylight. It gives me so much time in hand and the best part, I don’t have to rush though with my camera. I can photo shoot even at 5 in the evening. Love it!


I am sure most of you have your own versions of this salad. And probably no one needs another Tabouleh recipe to learn from. But when the day shines bright and the food speaks to me so beautifully, I find it hard to control myself. I shoot non-stop and overload the post with photos.


quinoa | Sunshine and Smile #quinoa #glutenfree


quinoa tabouleh | Sunshine and Smile


Salad such as these helps you validate your knife skills. Everything has to be very finely chopped. Using a food processor will only blend it and make it mushy. There can’t be any shortcuts. You have to trust your favorite sharp knife for it. Take time, choose your pace, switch off the music, didn’t bother to instagram or tweet in between and just make sure you don’t chop your fingers instead. You can’t rush through making these salads unless you are a pro at chopping things super fine.


cilantro | Sunshine and Smile


veggies for Quinoa Tabouleh | Sunshine and Smile #tabouleh #salad #quinoa


I don’t follow a strict measurement for this salad. Some days, I add more cucumber and some days, more tomatoes. Occasionally I like to throw in some dried fruits and other times, I like it plain folded in pita bread. It’s all about what you are craving that day and what is available in your refrigerator. The key here is to make sure everything that goes in the bowl, has precisely the same bite size.


lemon vinaigrette | Sunshine and Smile #salad #dressing #lemon


Although the salad can be served as soon as it’s ready, I personally feel it tastes better when it’s given some time to rest. It allows the dressing to spread evenly and flavors to blend. Just before serving, I like to sprinkle some crumbly feta cheese on top, which adds an interesting creamy zest at every spoonful.


Spring or not, this salad is a treat worth investing time on!


Quinoa Tabouleh

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours

Serving Size: 3 to 4 depending on how you serve it

Quinoa Tabouleh


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 big bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • for the dressing
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes (optional)


  • In a pan, mix quinoa with 1-1/2 cup water and bring it to a boil. Once done, reduce it to simmer and allow it to cook until water is absorbed. It should take about 15 to 20 minutes. Once done, take it off heat and let it rest for five more minutes. Later, fluff it using a fork.
  • For the dressing, pour everything in a bowl, glass or a jar and whisk until it’s all mixed nicely.
  • In big bowl, add all the chopped veggies and cooked quinoa. Give a mix. Now pour the dressing and mix again. Cover and let it rest for an hour or so.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle some feta cheese on top and squeeze some fresh lime juice as well.


  • The prep time will depend on how fast you chop the veggies.
  • Although the salad can be served immediately, I would still suggest you to let it rest for an hour or so to allow the juices to spread evenly and blend the flavors.
  • The salad stays good for three to fours days, if refrigerated in an airtight container.



quinoa tabouleh | Sunshine and Smile #tabouleh #quinoa #salad

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Poornima says:

This is so refreshing and delicious! Fabulous shots!!

Rosa says:

Beautiful and so summery! A marvelous recipe.

Refreshing clicks!



Meeta says:

I love quinoa and we enjoy this as a staple in our home. I’ve made quinoa tabouleh on several occasions right now however I’m enjoying it as a breakfast cereal!

Melanie says:

Hi !

Oh my godness ! That looks so amazing and delicious ! I like quinoa very much especially as sidedish for fish ..
Your pictures are beautiful as usual !

Kind regards from vienna

How gorgeous! Both recipe and the photos!

Archana says:

Beautiful shots! These vibrant colors and fresh flavors convey spring perfectly!

I also love quinoa. This salad look great! I am glad you are getting ample time to click non-stop…that way we can enjoy your gorgeous photography 🙂

Anna@CCS says:

This sounds amazing! I love tabouleh and yours is truly gorgeous!

Jill says:

Looks beautiful, I am kind of addicted to quinoa right now too!!

Absolutely gorgeous dish! And great recipe!

Joyti says:

Wow, this looks delicious. I’d sub parsley for cilantro (I don’t like cilantro, which is a problem when eating Indian food!)…but otherwise it looks perfect. And your photographs never fail to awe and dazzle me.

Mallika says:

Wow! Such a perfect dish to welcome the spring. Lovely clicks as usual that can make me lick off this salad from my monitor!!!

Oh my goodness! I love tabouleh and it is very addicting. Your photos look amazing, Kankana!

Brilliant, protein-rich sub for the usual bulghur.

Reem says:

I just died looking at this beauty. … Serious K you just rock the whites. … Gorgeous!!!!

I love tabouleh, this looks incredible. Beautiful photos!

So so pretty! I love quinoa, to death 😀

Eha says:

Incredibly fresh looking this combo is really calling out to me, autumn or not!!

This salad does speak of spring…refreshing and so colorful.

chinmayie says:

Such a fresh refreshing dish! Haven’t tired quinoa but I think I could recreate it with my local millets. Looks Yum!

Refreshing salad topped with awesome photos as always :)!

nipponnin says:

Beautiful photos as usual. I stock quinoa at home all the time and looking for good recipes, this is must try recipe for sure. Thank you for sharing.

I’m so loving the fresh feel of the Salad. And you are the queen of top shots of seeds and noodles and every raw ingredient! Summer’s here:)

dixya says:

I make a salad similar to this on a regular basis. Sometimes adding black beans, corn, and hot sauce will give Mexican flair 🙂 lovely shots as usual Kankana

Nami | JOC says:

I haven’t had a chance to eat Tabouleh and you inspired me to try this dish. This is a wonderful quinoa recipe, Kankana. I’m enjoying looking at each picture as always…. 🙂

carey says:

Oh my gosh, this is 1000% my kind of tabouleh! I really enjoy bulgur and parsley, but I would take quinoa and cilantro over them almost any day of the week. And with feta too! I love it. (:

I think quinoa is one of those foods that once you taste you can’t get enough of. Your tabouleh looks so scrumptious. It would be perfect for this lovely warm spring weather we are having. Thanks for sharing!

I really like quinoa and cilantro, so this combination in a tabouleh sounds amazing. I like that it keeps well and would make for a great dish for a picnic. Adding it to my list of recipes to try this spring!

Lovely clicks, and I specailly loved the drizzle of chilli flakes n top!!! lemon and chilli never fails to impress. Loved the mood in the pics. I love the versatility quinoa brings to any dish and I loved this tabouleh! Do you shoot with the 24-70??

Kankana Saxena says:

Thank you Shoba 🙂 I love a little chili flakes on my food, almost always! To answer your question, I use 50mm/f 1.4 only for my food photography.