Pesto Quinoa Bowl

This farmer’s market fresh meal is loaded with protein and iron for a real veggie-based power up!

When I was in Toronto recently (I wrote about this on Instagram), I tried a really tasty bowl at Kupfert and Kim on Yonge Street. It was a pesto quinoa bowl, with a base of quinoa and a thick layer of pesto on top, some greens, radish, pomegranate, and a bunch of other tasty bits. It was really good and I had never thought of pesto and quinoa together before!

I was inspired by this when I put together this bowl. You can mix up the vegetables that you use here, so long as they’re fresh and delicious!

This week I picked up a bunch of gorgeous small carrots from the farmer’s market. They’re naturally very sweet as the sugars are concentrated in their small size, and I scrubbed them without peeling for this dish. I clipped the stems short but left them on to use as little handles as well for the aesthetics, but do as you please! If you’re using normal grocery store carrots you can chop them into batons to make them cook faster. I wanted them to retain some crunch, but if you want them soft you could always boil them first.

Is it weird to add a little water to the pesto? I did it for two test batches of this recipe and found that it helped fluff up the final result. Of course pine nuts and parmesan are standard for pesto, but frankly? Those are really expensive ingredients and you can get a fantastic result with cashews and a bit of sea salt. Raw cashews are soft and lovely in place of pine nuts.

Actually, as I write this, I just had a thought. A couple of spruce tips added to the pesto (like, seriously one or two) would probably add that exact flavour from the pine nuts. A good thought for a future recipe.

Pesto Quinoa Bowl

Course Main Course
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 handful spinach leaves
  • 2/3 cup chickpeas
  • 8 small fresh carrots
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Pesto Ingredients

  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tbsp water
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the instructions. I used tricolour quinoa and it took about twenty minutes. 

  2. Slice the shallots thinly. Heat the olive oil in a pan and once hot, add the shallots. Add a pinch of salt to make the shallots get tender rather than crispy.

  3. Clean the carrots, spinach, and drain the chickpeas while the shallots cook until they are slightly soft. Add the chickpeas and carrots to the pan. Dice the garlic, add it and some salt and pepper to the pan. Cover and allow to cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring once. 

  4. Once the chickpeas are starting to get crispy and the carrots are slightly browning on the pan-down side, add in the spinach on top. Cover immediately to allow the spinach to wilt. 

  5. To make the pesto: In a food processor, combine the basil, cashews, lemon juice, olive oil, and some sea salt and a crack of pepper. Blend until combined. Add a touch of water to loosen up the sauce, and blend until it becomes thick and finely combined. 

  6. To serve: create a base of quinoa in a dish. Add the spinach leaves, then the carrots, then the chickpeas and shallots. Add a large dollop of the pesto sauce, and serve. 

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