Most books about wine and food pairing lament about how difficult it is to pair wine with salad. Does that mean if you like salad you should avoid drinking wine with it? Absolutely not! Back when I was studying wine and food pairing at Northwest Wine Academy, pairing savant/ chef instructor Lenny Rede revealed a salad that can pair with red or white wine – Tabbouleh.
During that revelatory class when the salad was served and the red wine was poured I initially thought, “Seriously, red wine with Tabbouleh Salad? You’ve got to be kidding! There’s lemon juice in that and all that parsley. That’s got to be meant solely for a wine like pinot gris or sauvignon blanc.” Boy was I wrong.
The inherent earthiness of the grains pairs well with an earthy red wine. Here, I’ve swapped out the traditional bulghur for a Super Grains mix based on quinoa, and it still works nicely. The lemon juice that I assumed would be meant for white wine is less sharp than vinegar. Radiating freshness, that lemon juice ends up brightening the wine rather than overwhelming it.
I often enjoy this savory Tabbouleh Salad for lunch. Or, I make it a little more substantial and add some Feta cheese for dinner. This recipe is based on the version from the classic, Moosewood Cookbook.
Five Grain Tabbouleh Salad Recipe
Makes 4-6 servings
1 cup uncooked Super Grains or Quinoa (I use Whole Foods 365 brand – this is not a paid ad, just personal preference)
1 t minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup chopped green onions, whites and greens
2-3 tomatoes diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 can chickpeas (15 ounces)
Prepare the grains according to package directions. When cooked, spread the cooked grains out on a baking pan in a thin layer to let them cool for about 15 minutes (optional).
In a bowl combine the garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and cumin. Mix the ingredients to combine, then stir in the cooled grains. Add the chopped veggies and refrigerate the Tabbouleh Salad until ready to serve.
Wine Pairing for Tabbouleh
Tabbouleh has both fresh and earthy characteristics making it a wonderful pairing for white wine in warmer days, or red wine in the fall.
In our house we enjoy this Tabbouleh Salad with an array of white wines that echo the lemon in the dressing. Everything from Grenache Blanc to Pinot Gris pleases us. Alternatively, look for a white wine that highlights the herbaceous parsley notes such as Gruner Veltliner or Sauvingnon Blanc.
For a red wine, I’m especially fond of Tempranillo with this salad. Sangiovese is a great alternative.