Salpicon de quinua o de avena

Ensalada de quinoa o de avena

Text literally means a salmagundi of quinoa or oats. The photo shows the experiment with oats.

Tabbouleh is a Middle Eastern salad made from bulgur wheat, chopped parsley, mint, tomato, scallion, and other herbs with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, black pepper and sometimes cinnamon and allspice. It is very similar to the Peruvian dish containing quinoa, chopped tomatoes, minced jalapeño, cucumber, scallion, parsley, cilantro, red onion, lime juice, oil, salt, black pepper, minced garlic, and sometimes avocado So, in effect, these two salads are very close cousins. Classical tabbouleh tends to be a parsley salad with a little bulgur, but salpicon de quinoa has a generous amount of the grain, the ratio of which is my preference. Below is the description for oats. If you would prefer to skip the explanation and move to the quinoa portion, please click here.

However, I missed my tabbouleh, and I wondered if oats could be used instead of bulgur. So, I experimented with the grain, and my Everlovin' used it to make the salad, which in this case was the Peruvian version, making this salpicon de avena.

Bulgur is dried pre-cooked wheat that is soaked in very hot water for 30 - 60 minutes, drained and then squeezed. Couscous, also wheat, is coarse semolina wheat that has been steamed. In the US, we buy it pre-cooked, but in the Middle East, people have to steam their own. It seemed feasible to make tabbouleh or salpicon out of oats that were steamed and then treated like bulgur.

I started with 1/2 cup of Bob's Red Mill new Gluten Free steel cut oats, poured it into a sieve, arranged the oats along the sides of the sieve, placed the sieve over a pot of boiling water, covered the pot and steamed for 30 minutes. Here is a revision to the recipe: Although McCann's is shown in the photo, it should not be used. High quality gluten free oats are available, and that product should be used instead.




The oat version was made with a new product, Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Steel Cut Oats. On the left is the old, reliable McCann's Irish Oatmeal, which would work just the same. Tested, but found unsatisfactory is the quick cooking steel cut Irish Oatmeal on the right. When reconstituted with boiling water, the result is mushier and has a slightly funky flavor. Quick oats lacks the clean, natural flavor of the long-cooking McCann's oats. Quick cooking steel cut oats is not recommended for this recipe. Only gluten free oats are recommended.

After the oats were steamed, they no longer tasted like raw starch, but were very hard and not something you would like to eat in that form. Next, the oats were placed in a bowl, boiling water was poured over them, the dish was covered by a plate, and the whole package was wrapped in a towel for 45 minutes. The water was drained off, the oats were allowed to drain through a sieve for a few hours. If you're in a hurry, the oats can be drained for 10 minutes and then hand squeezed. The 1/2 cup of dried steel cut oats resulted in 2-1/2 - 3 cups of expanded, fluffy, individual oat kernels that were not stuck together like steel cut oatmeal is.

Here are the instructions for preparing quinoa. Skip these instructions if you are using oats..

Quinoa preparation

You will want 1 cup of dry quinoa grain. Follow the directions on the package or box to rinse the quinoa. Trader Joe' and Ancient Harvest do not require active rinsing. If you cook the quinoa in full strength, low sodium chicken both, the grains will have a nice flavor which will not detract from completed salad. Alternatively, you can cook the grains in plain water. Cook for about 20 minutes. you will want rather dry grains.


Amount Measure Ingredient
2-1/2 to 3 cups Cooked and drained quinoa or oats prepared as above
2 each Roma tomatoes or salad tomatoes from which the seeds and slippery pulp have been removed
1 - 6 clove Garlic, finely minced. You can also use some roasted garlics, make a paste, and mix with the lime/lemon juice.
2 each Scallions, including the green tops
1-1/2 or more cups Chopped greens, consisting of cilantro and parsley - either flat Italian parsley or curly parsley, most of the stems removed on the parsleys. We also used chopped mint, but that is not official in this Peruvian version.
1-1/2 - 2 each Diced Persian cucumbers or diced garden cucumber that has been de-waxed, de-seeded and about half of the skin removed
1/2 cup Red onion, finely minced (optional)
1/2-1 small Jalapeño chile, seeded with the membranes removed and then finely minced. We used about an inch of the jalapeño and wish we had used the whole pepper.
about 1/3 cup Freshly squeezed lime juice, more or less to taste. Alternatively, you can use a mixture of lemon juice and lime juice
1 Tablespoon Olive oil, more or less to taste.We used Trader Joe's garlic oil.
    Salt and black pepper to taste
    Peeled and diced avocado (optional)

If you decide to make tabbouleh instead, leave out the Jalapeño chile and use chopped mint leaves, switch to all lemon juice, add more olive oil, and serve with feta cheese and kalamata olives. In Peru this dish is also customarily served with hard-boiled egg wedges, capers, and a cheese similar to feta.