Quinoa Pesto Bowl

This delicious and healthy quinoa pesto bowl features healthy, low-carb quinoa infused with delicious vegan pesto flavors. Served with steamed veggies, it’s a tasty healthy meal any day of the week! Serve it with some Vegan Garlic Bread for the best meal experience!

A glass bowl is full of quinoa, peas, asparagus, and topped with spinach leaves. The text at the top reads, "Quinoa & Pesto Veggie Bowls."

Having simple, easy, go-to meals is my specialty. It keeps dinner easy and keeps meals out of a rut! Take, for example, my vegan chicken noodle soup. It’s an easy recipe to throw together in minutes, and it’s so satisfying. This quinoa pesto bowl is in the mix for easy meals, too. It comes together in minutes and is so satisfying!

Why This Recipe is a Winner

  • Adding pesto to quinoa instead of pasta, creates a quick, healthy meal that’s also very healthy
  • Using walnuts as the foundation for pesto is flavorful and delicious
  • Adding steamed asparagus creates visual interesting and increases the depth of flavor in every bite.

What You Need

You can find the full printable recipe, including ingredient quantities, below. But first, here are some explanations of ingredients and steps to help you make this recipe perfect every time.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need for this recipe:

  • Quinoa — Use your favorite kind of quinoa.
  • Vegetable broth — I recommend a high-quality vegetable broth, such as Better Than Bouillon Vegetarian combined with water.
  • Garlic — You’ll need two cloves of garlic, or you can use several tender cloves from garlic confit.
  • Walnuts — We’ll be using 1/4 cup of walnuts for the pesto.
  • Basil — Fresh basil leaves are a must for pesto. You can grow your own in the summer months or buy it in the produce section of your grocery store.
  • Olive oil
  • Kale — We’ll be using one cup of fresh kale.
  • Salt — Any salt will do here, but I prefer sea salt for this recipe.
  • Veggies — I like adding frozen peas, asparagus, and fresh greens to these bowls.

Ingredient Spotlight

Looking down on a bowl full of multi-colored uncooked quinoa.

Using the Best Quinoa

There are hundreds of varieties of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), but there are three main types used most often: 1) white quinoa, 2) red quinoa, and 3) tri-color quinoa. White quinoa is the most common and has a light and fluffy texture when cooked. Red quinoa has a nuttier flavor and cooks with a bit of a crunch. Tri-color is a blend of 3 quinoas (white, red, and black). It’s my favorite to use because it blends in the nuttier flavors from the red and black quinoa with the better consistency from the white quinoa. You can find quinoa at most grocery stores year-round.

How to Make Quinoa Pesto Bowl

  1. Rinse the quinoa with a fine-mesh strainer. Pour both the vegetable broth and the quinoa in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and the moisture is absorbed.
  2. Make the pesto by combining garlic, walnuts, fresh basil, olive oil, kale and salt to a food processor (or blender) and pulse for a few seconds.
    Ingredients for pesto in a food processor.
  3. Push down any ingredients on the side of the bowl again, and pulse again until the most a nice, consistent texture is achieved.
  4. Stir the pesto into the cooked quinoa and stir until evenly combined.
  5. Prepare asparagus by washing and snapping off the woody ends.
    Looking down on a cutting board full of asparagus.
  6. Lightly oil a skillet over medium heat. Add the frozen peas and chopped asparagus and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the asparagus is tender.
    Preparing the asparagus for these Pesto Quinoa Veggie Bowls
  7. Place the pesto quinoa in a bowl and top with cooked asparagus and peas.
  8. Add the greens as a garnish.

Storage Tips

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. The quinoa pesto can be frozen for up to 2 months in appropriate freezer-safe containers.

A closeup of a bowl of a Quinoa Pesto Veggie Bowl with fresh spinach on top.
Looking down on a glass bowl with quinoa, asparagus, and fresh spinach leaves. A white dinner napkin and fork sit above it.

Serving Suggestions

Serve pesto quinoa bowls on their own or add any of the following on the side (or in the bowl):

A closeup of a fork on a white napkin. The fork holds a bite of quinoa pesto with asparagus. The bowl with the rest of the meal sits next to it.

More Italian Recipes

These quinoa pesto bowls are so good! Here are even more plant-based Italian recipes to try!

Looking down on a bowl of quinoa with asparagus and peas and fresh spinach leaves.

I hope you try this recipe and that you love it as much as we do!

Quinoa Pesto Veggie Bowls

Quinoa Pesto Bowl

Enjoy this simple quinoa pesto bowl and taste the difference a plant-based diet can make for your life, one delicious bite after another.
5 from 2 votes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 364kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa uncooked
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves washed and chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 cup kale de-stemmed and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt preferably sea salt
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups asparagus washed and chopped
  • ½ cup fresh greens such as spinach or watercress

Instructions

  • Rinse the quinoa with a fine-mesh strainer. Pour both the vegetable broth and the quinoa in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and the moisture is absorbed.
  • Add the garlic, walnuts, fresh basil, olive oil, kale and salt to a food processor (or blender) and pulse for a few seconds. Push down any ingredients on the side of the bowl again, and pulse again until the most a nice, consistent texture is achieved. Stir the pesto into the cooked quinoa and stir until evenly combined.
  • Spray a skillet with a light coating of vegetable spray and place over medium heat. Add the frozen peas and chopped asparagus and cook for about 10 minutes until the asparagus is tender, but not mushy.
  • Place the pesto quinoa in a bowl and top with cooked asparagus and peas. Add the greens as a garnish.

(The products above contain sponsored links to products we use and recommend)

Notes

Look for asparagus that is firm, with heads that are dark green or maybe even slightly purple.
Calories: 364kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 832mg | Potassium: 564mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2310IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 73mg | Iron: 4.4mg

The nutrition information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

This post was originally published in 2015 and was updated to include new photos, new text, and an updated recipe in 2021.

4 Responses to Quinoa Pesto Bowl

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyCharlene Reply

    I’ve been looking for vegan bowl recipes, and this one caught my eye! I’m not vegan, but I want to head in that direction. Anyway, I tried the recipe, adjusting the recipe down to a fourth of what is called for (I live alone.) It’s really good! I’ll definitely do it again, but, as with trying anything new, it’s a learning curve. I might make a slight adjustment here, a tweak there. Overall, I’m very happy with my first attempt, and I don’t even LIKE asparagus!!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMalaika Reply

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for this article and recipe… I’ve been trying to go vegan for awhile… now. I need to reframe how I see my kitchen.. I like the idea of growing the basil…I will use growing my own basil as a way of starting a new lifestyle.

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Malaika! Thanks for your note. I love the idea of growing your own basil as inspiration for your diet too. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself. It took me awhile to make the transition from vegetarian to vegan. Just give yourself some grace as you make these changes…and tend to your sweet basil plant too!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for Marlyjoi tydings Reply

    5 stars
    I loved the story behind this and the beautiful pictures to occupy the steps!

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