Couscous-Quinoa Tabouli

Adapted from Mollie Katzen's Vegetable Heaven
Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus time to cool and then to chill (15 minutes of work)
Yield: 6 to 8 servings, depending on what goes with it

Try this new variation on the traditional Mediterranean herb-and-grain salad. It's different and delicious—and it's a great way to slip some of that magical wonder-grain, quinoa, into your diet.
  • This salad can be made with little or no oil. The olive oil is optional, and the dish tastes very good both with and without it.
  • Get everything else ready while the grains cook. You can mince the parsley, mint, and scallions together in the food processor.
  • Couscous-Quinoa Tabouli keeps well, tightly covered and refrigerated, for up to 5 days.

1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup uncooked instant couscous (NOT whole wheat)
3/4 cup boiling water
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 cups (packed) minced fresh parsley (flat or curly-leaf)
1 cup minced fresh mint
3 to 4 scallions, finely minced
1 cup minced red onion (about 1 small onion)
1 or 2 small (6-inch) cucumbers, peeled, seeded if necessary, and diced
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt (possibly more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Up to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Tiny cherry tomatoes, for garnish
A few toasted walnuts, minced
Toasted pita bread

  1. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse under cold running water. Transfer to a small saucepan, add 1 1/4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat way down, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and fluff thoroughly with a fork to let heat escape. Set aside. (Continue to fluff the quinoa from time to time as you prepare the other ingredients, so the grains stay dry and separate.)

  2. Place the couscous in a medium-large bowl, and add the boiling water. Cover with a plate and let stand for 10 minutes. Remove the plate, and fluff with a fork as you did with the quinoa. Then add the quinoa to the couscous, and fluff mightily. (It's very important to the texture of this dish that the grains be separate and "tender-dry". They will borrow moisture from the other ingredients, and you don't want the salad to turn to mush.)

  3. Meanwhile, lightly toast the seeds in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat until they are fragrant. Hover and stir often, so they don't burn. Transfer to an electric spice grinder or a mortar and pestle. Grind to a powder, and add this to the cooked grains. Set the bowl aside until the grains have cooled at least to room temperature.

  4. When the grains have cooled, use a fork to stir in all the remaining ingredients except the optional garnishes. Cover tightly and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

  5. Serve cold, topped with cherry tomatoes and/or minced walnuts, and with some toasted pita bread on the side, if desired.
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