This pesto quinoa salad is packed with fluffy quinoa, creamy mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, briny artichokes, and tangy roasted red peppers! It’s an easy make-ahead side salad!

Pesto Quinoa Salad
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This quinoa salad reminds me of an antipasti platter with marinated artichokes, creamy mozzarella, and juicy tomatoes. I love how this comes together to make a meal. It’s certainly hearty enough for a simple lunch recipe. But it also works great as a side dish to your favorite pasta or soup recipe. Try serving this salad with my vegan vodka sauce or enjoy it with my hearty minestrone soup.

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Quinoa – Quinoa is the base of the salad and has a relatively neutral flavor that works well with the other ingredients. You could substitute quinoa with cooked couscous or orzo pasta if you prefer.
  • Mozzarella– I used mozzarella pearls, but you could also use fresh mozzarella chopped into pieces.
  • Tomatoes – Cherry tomatoes add a burst of freshness, juiciness, and a slight sweetness to the salad. You can substitute cherry tomatoes with chopped regular tomatoes.
  • Pesto – Pesto contributes a rich and savory flavor to the salad. It typically contains basil, garlic, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. I like the Bertolli brand of store-bought pesto.
  • Roasted red peppers – Roasted red peppers add a sweet, slightly smoky flavor to the salad. You could use chopped sun-dried tomatoes for a different flavor.
  • Artichokes – Artichokes have a unique, briny flavor and a tender, meaty texture. They add depth to the salad. You can substitute them with sliced black olives for a slightly different flavor.
  • Basil – Fresh basil adds a fragrant and herbal note to the salad, enhancing the overall aroma and flavor. It also provides a lovely garnish. If you don’t have fresh basil, you can leave it out.

Do I Need to Rinse Quinoa?

Most quinoa should be rinsed before cooking. Some bagged varieties will come pre-rinsed but if you’re not sure, give it a rinse just to be safe. I place it in a fine-mesh strainer and then run it under cool water. Be sure it’s a very fine mesh strainer so the quinoa doesn’t fall through. This strainer on Amazon is a great one for quinoa!

A bowl of quinoa on a table

How to Prepare Quinoa

There are so many different ways to prepare, but here are a few of my favorite basic methods. Don’t forget to rinse your quinoa before cooking it!

  • How to Make Quinoa In a Rice Cooker– I love making quinoa in the rice cooker because I can set it and forget it! It cooks perfect quinoa every time.
  • How to Cook Quinoa on the Stovetop– Just like rice, you can prepare quinoa on the stovetop. Use a two to one ratio of water to quinoa. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Then fluff with a fork!
  • How to Make Quinoa in an Instant Pot– Yep, you can make quinoa in an Instant Pot! This is a quick, fool-proof method for perfect quinoa!

Tips & Tricks

  • You can add greens to this salad if you like. Try serving it over spinach or mixed greens.
  • The flavor of this salad gets better after it has had a few hours to chill in the fridge. You can certainly eat it right away, but it also works great as a make-ahead or meal prep recipe.
Pesto Quinoa Salad

Other Quinoa Salad Recipes

If you enjoy this salad, be sure to check out my quinoa and edamame salad, which is loaded with vegetables and plant-based protein. This butternut squash and quinoa salad is perfect for fall! And this southwestern quinoa salad is also a great way to add a rainbow of vegetables to your plate.

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Pesto Quinoa Salad

Pesto Quinoa Salad

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 6 reviews
  • Author: Liz Thomson
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x
  • Category: Salad
  • Method: Tossed
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

This pesto quinoa salad is packed with fluffy quinoa, creamy mozzarella, juicy tomatoes, briny artichokes, and tangy roasted red peppers! It’s an easy make-ahead side salad!


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup pesto
  • 1/4 cup chopped red peppers
  • 1/4 cup chopped marinated artichokes
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, cherry tomatoes, pesto, red peppers, artichokes, and basil.
  2. Toss until combined, then season with salt to taste.