This pesto quinoa salad is quick and easy to make, packed with flavour and a rainbow of Mediterranean veggies. The perfect weeknight dinner when you don’t feel like cooking or a great picnic, potluck or barbecue side dish!
As you know, I’m all about the vegan high protein salads, and quinoa is one high-protein pseudo-cereal grain! It’s great in hearty salads like this chickpea avocado salad or as the grain base of any kind of Buddha bowl like this baked beet falafel quinoa bowl.
This pesto quinoa salad is another delicious, protein-packed quinoa dish bursting with the flavours of the Mediterranean. It’s also stupid-easy to make! You can prep everything in the time it takes to cook your quinoa and toss it all together at the end for lunch or dinner ready in less than 30 minutes.
The key to having light and fluffy quinoa is to cook it properly (duh). I’ve had bad luck following the package directions on my quinoa and ending up with a clumpy, pasty and unpleasant mass of quinoa.
Most sources suggest a ratio of one part quinoa to two parts water. WRONG! Since I read Eat Within Your Means’ post on how to cook perfect quinoa, her suggested ratio of 1 part quinoa to one and a quarter parts water has never failed me! Do it like that!
So while your quinoa is cooking, make a basic pesto. As you know, most, if not all, bottled pesto are not vegan so you’ll have to make it yourself. Fortunately, it’s super easy to make. Unfortunately, basil is kind of expensive (at least where I live) and you’re gonna need a lot.
If you’re a pesto-lover, you’ll definitely want to keep a big pot of basil on your deck/balcony/kitchen counter/roof to be able to harvest a good two cups worth for a batch of pesto. I’ve just put my plant in my garden and it’s not quite ready to harvest yet so I ended up buying a whole plant from a garden center as it was cheaper than buying it in the little packages at the supermarket!
Finally, chop up some veggies (whichever ones you want) and toss everything together. You can serve this pesto quinoa salad right away with the still-warm quinoa or you can chill it for a few hours. This salad packs well for a great make-ahead lunch during the work week or take it along to a gathering to share with your friends!
Got leftovers? Use them in these recipes:
Tomatoes, black olives, cucumber: Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
Quinoa, cherry tomatoes, red onion: Chickpea Avocado Salad
Wanna see how easy this pesto quinoa salad is? Watch the video!
Pesto Quinoa Salad
- 1 ¼ cups (200 ml) water - $0.00
- 1 cup (115 grams) quinoa - $0.76
- 2 packed cups (about 100 grams) basil leaves - $4.00
- 1/3 cup (45 grams) toasted walnuts - $0.73
- 2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped - $0.16
- 3 - 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast - $0.10
- ½ cup (120 ml) olive oil* - $0.40
- 1/2 a red onion diced - $0.17
- 1 cucumber diced - $0.26
- 250 grams (9 oz) cherry tomatoes halved or quartered -$0.80
- 250 grams (9 oz) black olives - $1.49
- 1 can (390 grams / 14 oz) artichoke hearts quartered - $1.85
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste - $0.01
- A few grind of pepper - $0.03
- Bring the water to a boil and add the quinoa. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 20 – 30 minutes until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and transfer to a large bowl.
- Meanwhile, combine the basil, walnuts, garlic, nutritional yeast and olive oil in a food processer and blend until smooth.
- Mix the pesto into the quinoa and toss together with the remaining ingredients. Serve warm or chilled.
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