Better than bulgur?
Though everyone seems to have a different way of spelling tabbouleh - toubouleh? tabouli? - more and more people do seem to agree that this delicious Middle Eastern salad of bulgur wheat tossed with cucumbers, tomatoes, herbs, olive oil and lemon juice is delicious. It helps that it's also healthy and quick to prepare. So why would anyone - starting with me - want to mess with success? Because even though bulgur wheat - a whole grain that has been cracked and partially cooked - is healthier than white rice, quinoa is even healthier. An ancient food first cultivated by the Incas, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) looks like a grain, but actually is a seed loosely related to spinach and chard. Available in a variety of designer colors, quinoa has a mild grassy taste and boasts tons of protein and calcium. It's hardy, too, and so drought-resistant that the United Nations has designated quinoa a super-crop for its potential to feed the poor. And did I mention that it takes almost no time at all to cook? Just 10 to 15 minutes.One note: freshly-harvested quinoa is coated with bitter-tasting saponins. A natural insect repellent, saponins happen to repel humans, too. Most of the quinoa sold commercially in this country has been processed to remove this coating, but you should be sure to rinse and drain it yourself before cooking. Make your lemon juice is freshly-squeezed. And you'll want to break out the extra-special extra-virgin olive oil. There aren't a lot of ingredients in this salad, which means it is key to get the most flavor from everyone.