Pesto Quinoa Salad

A deliciously healthy, naturally gluten-free salad. Quinoa (pronounced keenwa) is a very versatile grain. It does not have much taste itself but it is a great carrier of flavours. By cooking in a stock and adding pesto it has a great taste.

The basic ingredients you need for this dish are the quinoa, a gluten-free vegetable stock (I use Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon powder) and a good quality pesto. I like to make my own Pesto and like using a traditional basil pesto or sometimes a lime and coriander one. Then you can really add anything you would like to the dish, including cold cooked meat or canned beans, chickpeas and so on. You can even add beetroot but don't add it until just before serving as it will colour the entire dish a deep red otherwise!

The recipe below contains a summer selection and for an added treat some mozzarella, but in winter you could add roasted vegetables. This is a great packed lunch recipe as you can make it in advance and it will keep well in the fridge for several days.

Gluten-Free Pesto Quinoa Salad

Tasty pesto quinoa salad


Basic ingredients:

  • 100g quinoa (½ mug)
  • 300ml vegetable stock (1 mug)
  • 2 tbsp Pesto (any flavour)
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Added ingredients (choose a selection of things you enjoy):

  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • ½ yellow pepper, chopped
  • 10 baby plum tomatoes, cut into pieces
  • 1 small courgette, grated
  • c.125g/4-6 asparagus stalks, woody ends snapped off and stalk chopped into ½cm pieces, leave the ends long
  • c.50g/small handful sugar snap peas
  • 1 ball/c.125g mozzarella, drained and chopped into bite sized pieces


  • Wash the quinoa.
  • Place in a saucepan with the vegetable stock.
  • Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until all the stock is absorbed.
  • Put the chopped onion in a bowl of water to soak while the quinoa is cooking.
  • Add the chopped asparagus and sugar snap peas to the quinoa for the last 5 minutes of the cooking time.
  • Drain the onions.
  • Allow the quinoa to cool slightly, then add all the other ingredients and stir well.
  • Season according to taste.
  • Chill before serving.
  • I find soaking the red onions makes them less pungent and far more digestible.
  • If you are using any vegetables that require light cooking like tenderstem broccoli or sugar snap peas you can add them to the quinoa while it is cooking.
  • I like to chop things up quite small into about 1cm pieces so that I can easily eat it with just a fork.