In the run up to Christmas, the arrival of winter seems like an utterly magical thing to me. I love the frosty winter haze that creeps over the autumnal sky, and the low winter sun which illuminates everything in shades of tangerine. I love the way the evening darkness is punctuated by the warm glow of inviting pubs, beckoning and promising warmth and good company. And most of all I love the statuesque beauty of trees stripped of their leaves, crisscrossing the blue sky with their dark, inky branches.
But this is not a love letter to winter. Because come January 1st, I find that the spell is somehow broken. Everything that seemed so wonderful, so atmospheric just a few days before becomes desperately, crushingly dull. The frosty haze reveals itself as the cold North wind, and those few hours of tangerine light become too short to do anything meaningful. And those dark nights are just dark. Dark and never ending.
My one refuge is in the kitchen, surrounded by bright, vibrant ingredients, that have basked in the sun and stored it up, for a cold grey day like today. And this January I started to crave tabbouleh, with its iridescent, extravagant greenness, and bright flavours that speak of somewhere warm, arid, baked in the sun.
So I decided to try and make gluten free tabbouleh for the very first time, replacing the traditional bulgur wheat with quinoa. I’d never cooked quinoa before but was surprised by how simple it was to do, and the result gave me the hit of sunshine I so desperately needed. Nothing short of the arrival of the first blossom could make me feel quite so spring-like. I hope this brings you a little sunshine too!
- 120g quinoa
- 2 large tomatoes
- 2 large spring onions
- 1 large lemon
- 3 large bunches flat leaf parsley
- 1 large bunch mint
- 2 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp baharat spice mix
- 60ml olive oil
- ½ large pomegranate, arils removed
- Wash the quinoa well, then place in a large saucepan and cover with 360ml of cold tap water. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until the quinoa is cooked and all of the water has been absorbed. Leave in the pan for 10 minutes to cool.
- Meanwhile, finely chop the tomatoes and finely slice the spring onions, flat leaf parsley and mint. Place all chopped ingredients into a large serving bowl.
- Add the cooked quinoa, the juice of 1 lemon, olive oil and spices and mix thoroughly. Scatter the pomegranate arils over the top and serve immediately.