Summery Pesto Quinoa Salad, Gluten-Free, Vegan
I love the flavours of summer: tomatoes, basil, thyme, arugula, berries, watermelon and so much more! Summer food is fresh and fragrant.
This pesto quinoa is summer inspired. Pesto is traditionally made with basil, olive oil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and pine nuts. Since this pesto is vegan, it doesn't include Parmesan...or pine nuts for that matter. It's quite simple. Basil, olive oil, garlic and salt. Instead of adding my nut of choice (pine nuts, almonds, etc) to the pesto mix, I added slivered almonds to the salad for extra texture and crunchiness. For an added summery touch I used both fresh cherry tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.
This salad serves as a nice side dish to a summer BBQ. Throw some tuna, salmon, eggs, feta cheese or chickpeas for lunch the next day. For a meat-free meal add chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp hearts for a protein-power meal.
Quinoa is high in fibre and has all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Having said that, I wouldn't recommend having quinoa on its own as a protein source, especially if you're trying to balance your blood sugars or curb your cravings. Quinoa has 8g protein per cup- which is great for a grain- but not enough for a meal. Combine it with beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, eggs, or animal protein for a protein-rich, satiating meal.
Pesto: 1 cup basil leaves, 1 clove garlic, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup dry)
10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
8-10 sun-dried tomatoes, cut into 3-4 pieces
1/2 cup slivered almonds
Place pesto ingredients into blender or food processor and mix until smooth.
Place quinoa in a bowl, add pesto, and mix.
Add fresh and dried tomatoes, and almond. Mix.
Leave in the fridge for 1 hour, ideally.
Tip: For a greener pesto double the recipe and/or add some spinach to your pesto. The amount of garlic you use is also personal preference. I only used 1 clove as I had organic garlic which is packed-full of flavour and pungent- plus I have a raw garlic sensitive individual in in my house. But feel free to double or triple up on garlic!