Open Arms of Minnesota

Weekly Recipe: Basil Pesto Quinoa

By: Allison R Vatne, 2018-2019 Aramark Distance Dietetic Internship Program, MN

Have you tried quinoa (keen-wah)? Quinoa is a grain crop grown for its edible seeds. First discovered and harvested in the Andes Mountains of South America, quinoa has grown wildly popular in the United States today. Quinoa is a protein rich food, with more protein per serving than other common whole grains like rice and millet. Quinoa is also a complex carbohydrate that can fuel you through any busy day. Do you identify as vegetarian or vegan? Simple! Try this quinoa recipe without chicken or replace it with a plant-based protein source such as roasted chickpeas. Check the pesto jar label, as this recipe can easily be considered gluten free, too. After cooking, quinoa can be enjoyed in hot and cold dishes. This quick recipe is perfect for any meal and can be taken on the go!

Basil Pesto Quinoa

Recipe adapted from Tasteful Venture.

Serving Size: 4-5


  • 1 cup quinoa, dry
  • 1 container cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken cutlets
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1-2 T. lemon juice
  • ½ Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh pesto, of choice


  1. Cook 1 cup dry quinoa as directed on package, of choice.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, preheat oven to 400ºF.
  3. Place cherry or grape tomatoes on a baking sheet and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil and gently toss. Spread tomatoes out on baking sheet.
  4. Bake tomatoes for 12 minutes or to desired doneness, flipping halfway through.
  5. Dice chicken cutlets into bite size pieces on a cutting board.
  6. Place chicken pieces into a large bowl, and add a pinch of salt and 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Lightly toss.
  7. In a grill pan over medium-high heat, add ½ tablespoon of olive oil and chicken pieces.
  8. Cook chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side until cooked through, and the chicken internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
  9. In a serving bowl, combine cooked quinoa, baked tomatoes, 1/3 cup fresh pesto, and cooked chicken.
  10. Serve and enjoy!

Nutrition Information:

For one serving: 420 calories, 31 grams of protein, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 19 grams of fat, 4 grams of fiber, 6 grams of sugar, 400 mg of sodium, 400 mg of potassium

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