Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pesto Quinoa

Recipe Review: Great alternative to pasta or rice as a side. Was better cold than warm. Can also be made with pearled cous-cous.

It's been a little bit since I've made anything blog worthy. Life has been busy and I just haven't really felt like cooking anything major. Just as things were settling down and I was getting the bug I had a friend make a blog request! I had never had a blog request before so I was more than happy to oblige her request for me to try a quinoa recipe. Quinoa (pronounced Keen-wa) is technically a seed- not a grain, it is very high in protein and fiber, and gluten free. When cooked it is lighter and fluffier than rice or pasta and has a mild, slightly nutty flavor. I used "regular" quinoa (if thats even the right way to describe it) I've seen both red and black quinoa at the store, but haven't had the chance to taste either. 

I actually already had a box of quinoa sitting around, I just had never made it before and thought it looked blah plain. I was inspired by this months Food Network Magazine which had an article about 50 things to do with Pesto. (Really what's really better than fresh made pesto? Basil, garlic, nuts, olive oil, blended together into amazingness? I'd pretty much put pesto on anything) Quinoa wasn't actually on their list, but they should add it!

First things first you've gotta make some pesto. Of course you can buy pesto at the store, (Costo's Kirkland brand makes a great fresh pesto) just make sure to buy the fresh made stuff in the refrigerated section rather than the pesto in the tomato sauce isle. It will be much much better, and you can always freeze any leftovers. I only made a very small amount of pesto, since my basil plant is on the smaller side and I was afraid taking any more leaves would kill it, but you can expand the ratios to make more.

Basic Pesto
yield: 4 Tablespoons
1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pinenuts
2 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup parmesan cheese
salt & pepper

Add basil, nuts and garlic to food processor and pulse until blended. Add olive oil and parmesan and blend until well mixed. Add salt and pepper to taste.Ta-da! its pesto. Now turning quinoa into pesto quinoa is really easy- just add pesto! I also added some roasted red pepper, peas, scallions and pine nuts.

Pesto Quinoa 
yield: 4 servings

3/4 cup quinoa
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 cup water
3-4 Tablespoons pesto sauce
1 roasted red bell pepper
4 scallions finely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup peas
juice from 1/4 of a lemon
salt & pepper

Bring stock and water to a boil. Add quinoa and stir to combine. Reduce heat and cover, 15 minutes.

Add pesto to pot while quinoa is still warm- this will help it mix in easier to mix in.

Once quinoa has cooled slightly add in bell pepper, scallions pine nuts, and peas. Add lemon juice, salt, and pepper to taste. Can be served right away or cooled.

Nutrition Information: 163 Calories, Fat 6g, Saturated Fat 1.2g, Cholesterol 1mg, Carbohydrates 21.2mg, Fiber 3.8g, Protein 6g


  1. YUM! My Mom loves it...being vegetarian, apparently it's a good protein source as well.

  2. Christie it was soooooo good!!!!! Thanks for taking my request :)


  3. try the black quinoa. i got some at a restaurant, with a pomagranate "salsa" it was DELICIOUS.

  4. AWESOME!!! I minced garlic and red onion and sauteed it in OO until translucent then added peas until dark green and roasted red pepper until warm then added some fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper then added pesto to the cooked quinoa and then the cooked vegetable mix!!!! MMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!