Recipe: Fresh Pesto Quinoa

Goodbye rice, goodbye pasta & hello quinoa. It’s become a staple in our house, and with good reason. It’s versatile, healthy and easy to prepare.

what is quinoa

A little info:

– though it’s commonly referred to as a grain, quinoa is actually a seed that’s a part of  the “leafy greens” family (spinach, chard, etc.)

– it’s high in protein; better yet, it’s a complete protein which means it contains all 9 essential amino acids

– it’s a good source of manganese, magnesium, folate & fiber

– it cooks much quicker than rice, making it a great meal option for busy weeknights

recipe pepitas

Traditional pesto is made with pine nuts but I prefer to make mine with pumpkin seeds (or pepitas). They pack more of a nutrient punch and also cost less, a win-win.  Pumpkin seeds are full of healthy fats, minerals and protein. They’re also known to reduce inflammation in the body, lower cholesterol, protect bone health and ward of prostate cancer in men.

recipes with vegetables


I created this recipe based on ingredients I had on hand and it turned out really well. I made the pesto from scratch (easier than you think) and simply mixed it in with a batch prepared quinoa. The texture was reminiscent of comfort food….I don’t dare say risotto, but it was warm, hearty and deliciously satisfying.

pesto recipe


3/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds without the shells)

1 cup fresh basil

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cloves garlic

fresh lemon juice to taste

salt & pepper (optional)

1/2 cup quinoa (uncooked)


Toast the pepitas in a skillet for a few minutes to bring out their natural toasty flavor.  Cook quinoa according to package directions. While the quinoa cooks simply combine the remaining ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and blend until smooth.

Once the quinoa is fully cooked stir in the pesto and enjoy!

(recipe serves 4-6)


  1. YUM! I’ve never thought to add pepotas to pesto.

    • Robin Long 9 years ago

      It’s so good – a so good for you! Hope you like it 🙂

  2. Debbie 9 years ago

    Question: Is there a differance between brown and white Quinoa? Is brown better for you?

    • Robin Long 9 years ago

      Hi Debbie! The nutritional value is the same from what I understand (not like white rice vs. brown rice). I use white but some people say they prefer the taste of the red or brown varietals. I’d suggest trying them both and just deciding which you prefer. Both are very good for you 🙂

  3. Debbie 9 years ago


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