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April 14, 2015

by Alyssa

Spring Pesto Quinoa Bowls

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These spring pesto quinoa bowls are packed full of seasonal vegetables and homemade pesto, making for a perfect light and refreshing meal.

Spring Pesto Quinoa Bowl made with fresh, seasonal produce and tossed in a healthy homemade pesto sauce

Pesto. Pesto. PESTO. One of my all time favorite condiments/sauces in the entire world. And it's totally the star of these spring pesto quinoa bowls.

I think what I love most about pesto, aside from the wonderful flavor and vibrant green color is how easy it is to make at home. It's one of those things that I think a lot of people end up buying at the grocery store out of convenience (like jarred tomato sauce and hummus), not realizing how simple and affordable it is to make yourself. Plus, store-bought pesto can be surprisingly high in fat and sodium, so when you're making it at home, you have the ability to really control the number of ingredients that you're adding.

It might take you a few tries to find the perfect ratio of basil to oil to garlic to nuts, but once you get the hang of it and find a combination that you love, I say it's high time to experiment!

Spring Pesto Quinoa Bowl made with fresh, seasonal produce and tossed in a healthy homemade pesto sauce

A traditional pesto recipe is usually just a simple blend of basil, oil, parmesan/romano cheese, pine nuts, garlic, and some salt and pepper. And while outrageously delicious, we're all for breaking traditions, right?

Rather than just sticking with plain old basil pesto, why not try adding in some other ingredients? I personally always add some dark leafy greens to the mix to up the nutritional value and give the pesto a bit more flavor. I also swap out the cheese for nutritional yeast which still gives it that cheesy flavor, but nixes the dairy. And I also like to change up the nuts I use.

Frankly, pine nuts are SUPER expensive and while they're totally delicious, they're just not in the budget all the time. Luckily, I've found that you honestly can have a totally delicious pesto with pretty much any type of nut. My favorite is probably walnuts (like I've used in this recipe), but you can also use almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, and even pistachios!

Basically, what I'm trying to say is that the possibilities are endless with pesto! So have some fun 🙂

Spring Pesto Quinoa Bowl made with fresh, seasonal produce and tossed in a healthy homemade pesto sauce

Typically, I like to enjoy my pesto on top of gluten-free pasta or zucchini noodles, but with each batch, I find myself trying out new things. Sometimes it's used as a spread for toast, other times a dip for crackers and this time it's mixed in with fresh spring veggies and fluffy quinoa.

And friends, let me tell you these quinoa bowls are pure perfection. It starts with a base of fluffy white quinoa, which is then tossed with lightly steamed veggies – including zucchini, asparagus, and peas – and drizzled with my homemade basil-kale pesto. It's simple, yet it's packed with flavor and is light and refreshing. Just right for an easy lunch or you could even jazz it up with your favorite protein for a more filling and hearty dinner (my vote would be chickpeas…yum!).

More Healthy & Delicious Ways to eat Pesto:


Spring Pesto Quinoa Bowls

These quinoa bowls are pure perfection.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 servings
Calories 617kcal
Author Alyssa
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Spring Pesto Quinoa Bowl made with fresh, seasonal produce and tossed in a healthy homemade pesto sauce
4.50 from 2 votes


for the pesto:

for the quinoa bowls:

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 bunch asparagus cut into 1" pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds optional


  • Add basil, kale, garlic and walnuts into the bowl of a food processor. Process on high until finely chopped and combined.
  • Add nutritional yeast and salt then turn the food processor on and slowly drizzle in the oil until the pesto is creamy. Pulse in the lemon juice. You may have to remove the top and wipe the sides down as you go.
  • Transfer pesto to an airtight container and set aside.
  • Add asparagus, zucchini and peas into a steamer basket and gently steam until zucchini is tender, about 1 - 2 minutes.
  • Remove from steamer basket and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add quinoa and almonds and toss to combine.
  • Add pesto and mix the salad together until all the ingredients are evenly coated in sauce. If you want the dish to be a bit more "creamy", add 1 - 2 tablespoons of almond milk (or water) and mix to combine.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy!



Calories: 617kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 73g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 4mg | Sodium: 481mg | Potassium: 985mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 4580IU | Vitamin C: 48.8mg | Calcium: 257mg | Iron: 6.1mg

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About Alyssa

Hey there, I’m Alyssa Rimmer, a certified Holistic Nutritionist, yoga-lover, dog mom, and founder of Simply Quinoa. It’s nice to meet you! I created SQ as a way to provide solutions for women just like me, who were struggling to find helpful information about how to live a healthy and fulfilled life. My hope is that you will find inspiration here on SQ – in my story, in my recipes, in the hundreds of wellness articles, and in our amazing community. Welcome!

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    • It’s pulling in the nutrition for the entire pesto recipe rather than just 1/2 cup (which is used), so I can’t totally fix it. Just know that it’s around 500 – 600 calories!

    • it’s not calculating totally correctly because it’s accounting for the entire batch of pesto rather than just 1/4 cup per serving. It would be around 500 – 600 calories per serving.

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  4. Making this Friday as a side to my grilled side of salmon! I think it will pair perfectly. Also saving some extra pesto to top the salmon with. Thanks for sharing!

  5. This is everything I love in one dish! And perfect for detox-ing from all the bread I ate to do my grilled cheese post 😉

    • The perks of being a food blogger huh? 😉 And yes! this would be a great salad to enjoy for a little detox/recharge.

  6. I love the combo of flavors for this. I need to get back to eating more quinoa! Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. I regularly make spinach pesto and kale pesto, freezing some of each when the ingredients are the freshest. That way I have them to use all winter when I need a Spring-flavor pick-me-up! I love it in this version with quinoa. I think I may have stumbled upon tonight’s diner1 :o)

    • Yes, I love freezing my pesto too. Makes for a quick and easy meal all year long. Hope you try this dish! xo

  8. Oh yum – I prefer vegan pesto personally, so this sounds like an amazing treat! The green is so spring, just lovely!

  9. I use walnuts for pesto too! And I love changing up the ingredients – thanks for some new ideas here. Love the combo of veggies you added. So many spring favorites! Can’t wait to try it!

    • Walnuts are the best in pesto. They have such a great flavor. Would love to know if you end up trying this dish. xo!

      • Just devoured it for dinner! Subbed spinach for kale in the pesto (all I had) but made it to the recipe otherwise. Yummy!

  10. This looks awesome! I haven’t made pesto in ages and will definitely be trying this out!

    • I got on pesto kicks where I make it pretty much every week. I love how much you can play around with the ingredients! 🙂


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