Pesto Quinoa

Pesto quinoa in a white bowl with a few sun dried tomatoes on top.

This Pesto quinoa is rich, satisfying, and so easy to make. It’s the next best thing to eating a bowl of pesto pasta, and it’s perfect if you’re trying to reduce your pasta consumption and up your intake of more nutrient dense grains.

Quinoa is rich in magnesium, high in plant based protein and fibre, and contains all nine essential amino acids, so it’s a pretty nutritious grain to include in a clean eating diet. It also happens to be gluten free and the pesto sauce in this recipe is both vegan and oil free.

Serve this pesto quinoa for a nutritious vegan lunch or dinner alongside a simple salad like this baby kale salad or a vegan soup such as this vegan cauliflower soup. Or eat it on its own as it’s actually quite filling.

Pesto Quinoa – Key Ingredients And Substitutions

This easy vegan quinoa recipe is perfect for experimentation. You can swap the spinach for any other green you prefer such as arugula or baby kale. The walnuts can be switched out for pine nuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, or even hazelnuts would be delicious.

Replace the basil in the pesto with whatever fresh herb you prefer such as parsley or mint. Not cilantro though. Never cilantro (I am one of those people!). But really, anything goes. Just keep the basic proportions of greens/herbs/nuts the same and feel free to experiment with whatever substitutions are preferable, convenient, or seasonal.

If you’re craving some extra fat, you can substitute extra virgin olive oil (or whatever type of oil you prefer) instead of the water in this recipe. I do that sometimes when I’m craving a richer, heartier meal, but when I want to keep things light, water works perfectly and allows the pesto to blend up smoothly.

If you’re looking for a vegetable side dish to serve alongside this quinoa, try this delicious oven roasted okra. It’s so easy to make and perfect if you’re craving okra.

Or to take this pesto quinoa to the next level for a dinner party or other special occasion, top it with one of these rich and decadent gluten free vegan stuffed portobello mushrooms. They turned out amazingly flavourful and would pair nicely with this pesto recipe.

Pesto quinoa in a white bowl with a few sun dried tomatoes on top.
Print Pin
5 from 2 votes

Pesto Quinoa

This pesto quinoa is a healthy and easy plant based meal.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword easy, gluten free, vegan
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 270kcal


  • 2 cups raw baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or substitute your preferred nut or seed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • Optional: garnish with sun dried tomatoes


  • Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.
  • Add the spinach, basil, lemon juice, water, walnuts, garlic, salt, and pepper to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
  • Mix the quinoa with the pesto sauce and serve warm or at room temperature.
  • Makes 4 servings of pesto quinoa.


  • You can substitute whatever greens, nuts/seeds, or fresh herbs you prefer. Just keep the proportions of greens to herbs to nuts/seeds the same as what I’ve specified in the recipe.


Calories: 270kcal | Carbohydrates: 33g | Protein: 9g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 313mg | Potassium: 405mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1723IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 3mg