Gluten-free Basil Pesto Quinoa


What to do with all that delicious basil?

Since Italian food is the best food in the world, it only makes sense to bring its flavors to healthy food. For the most part, Italian food is healthy. I find the cheese and bread the toughest elements to replace, but I do it every day. My goal is to make my food taste as delicious and satisfying as the original.

Basil Pesto Quinoa with fresh tomatoes makes my job easy. With all that flavor from the basil pesto, how can you go wrong? Cook your quinoa properly, dice some fresh tomato, and in less than 30 minutes you’ve got a healthy, satisfying, flavorful dish. I can’t stop eating it.

Make Basil Pesto Quinoa Dairy-free

  • Use vegan/dairy-free cheese in the pesto for the classic sheep’s milk or parmesan cheese
  • Use a little Umeboshi Plum Vinegar for the cheese if you want to omit it all together. Umeboshi plum vinegar is very salty, so you only need a small amount to give a “parmesean” flavor to vegan food. Start with 1/2 tsp and add from there.

Gluten-free Basil Pesto Quinoa Recipe

Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free, Dairy-free and Vegan Versions, Soy-free

Gluten-free Basil Pesto Quinoa Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4-8
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water less 1 TBS
  • 1 TBS fresh lemon juice
  • large pinch coarse sea salt
  • ½ cup diced tomatoes
  • ½ -3/4 cup basil pesto
  • 3-4 basil leaves (optional)
Ahead of Time
  1. Rinse the quinoa under water until the water runs clear. If you have a difficult time digesting grains, you can soak the quinoa in water.
  2. Dice tomatoes into small dice.
  3. Make your basil pesto. (See basil pesto recipe.)
  4. Chiffonade your basil leaves.
Cook the Quinoa
  1. Bring the water and lemon juice to a boil.
  2. Add the pinch of coarse sea salt.
  3. Add rinsed quinoa and stir.
  4. Cover and reduce to a simmer.
  5. Cook covered for 16-18 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed.
  6. Then turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes covered.
  7. Remove cover and fluff with a fork.
Put it Together
  1. Add your pesto and diced tomato to your warm, cooked quinoa.
  2. Gently stir until it's well mixed.
  3. Adjust your seasoning by adding a pinch of salt and pepper to help bring out the flavors.
  4. If you like a more intense pesto flavor, add more pesto to your cooked quinoa. Top with chiffonade basil if you like.
  5. Eat and enjoy!
  1. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Copywright: Angela Marinelli, M.S., M.Ed., Nourishment Connection 2013

Looking for a Basil Pesto Recipe?

Check out my favorite basil pesto recipe. Takes 5 minutes to make, and adds intense, rich flavor to any protein, grain, or veggie!

Need help making pesto?

Make it with me! Watch this video and we’ll make basil pesto together. 🙂

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