Strawberry Quinoa Tabbouleh (adapted from Sprouted Kitchen)

How do you get inspired in the kitchen? Is it farmers’ markets? Cooking shows? Maybe it’s recreating restaurant favourites? I have friends who do a delicious job of recreating their favourite steakhouse dinner, complete with tempura green beans (sadly no longer available on the menu [what were they thinking?!]).

A main source of inspiration for myself (in addition to all of the above) are the Canadian seasons. We’re in the height of summer now and that means gardens everywhere [including my backyard] are bursting with fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs of every kind.

Hubs and I have planted our first (half decent) veggie garden this summer, one step of many in pursuit of backyard paradise. We’re [abundantly happily] married now, and married couples have nice yards, right? (We’re getting there!) It’s so exciting to see little green tops sprouting from the soil while we try to remember what we planted where (we’re novices).

Unfortunately, I did not inherit the green-thumb from my grandpa nor my mom (each flaunting sunflowers twice my height and teeming tomato plants, respectively). In fact, I have a history of crisp-ifying most plants I’ve been named responsible for. To add to this less than stellar resume is a nearly lifelong fear (/phobia] of worms [and slugs, caterpillars, centipedes, other long squirmy things). This translates into very defined duties: hubs does the “dirty work” (weeding, digging, slug-trapping – we have a problem (i.e. potentially squirmy-encountering jobs)), and I do the harvesting and cooking of the goods! We’re a perfect match, what can I say?

This variation on tabbouleh has no shortage of fresh summer flavours. With a few generous alterations from the traditional, this tabbouleh is sure to keep your taste buds on their toes! Modified from Sara’s original recipe over at the incredibly inspiring Sprouted Kitchen (check it out), this variation offers a complete meal with the addition of protein-packed chickpeas (always dietitian-ing). Give it a try before summer comes to an end!

Ingredients:

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa (or bulgur)
19-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups cucumber, de-seeded and chopped (about 1  cucumber)
1.5 cups chopped strawberries
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley (about 1 handful)
1/3 cup minced fresh mint (about 1 handful)
1/2 cup sliced green onions
Feta, for serving, if desired

For the dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice (zest reserved for garnish, if desired)
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1) Cook quinoa according to package directions. Allow to cool (I pop it into the freezer on a plate in a thin layer for quick cooling- don’t forget it in there!). You could also do this in advance.
2) Add cooled quinoa, chickpeas and chopped veggies (and strawberries) and herbs to a large bowl. Toss lightly.
3) In a small bowl or mason jar, mix together the dressing ingredients. It may taste a bit tart, but once paired with the sweet strawberries it will all balance out!
4) Pour dressing over salad mixture and toss gently to combine.
5) Serve with a sprinkle of lemon zest and crumbled feta, if desired.

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