Quinoa with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pesto
There’s no sauce more versatile and satisfying than pesto. You can serve it hot and poured over pasta, cold and spread on a sandwich, or tossed with quinoa and sun-dried tomatoes, like in this beautiful recipe.
Pesto and sun-dried tomatoes are meant for each other. A match made in zesty, earthy heaven. So let’s talk about sun-dried tomatoes for a second. These tiny morsels of giant flavor were originally created out of utility. Centuries ago, Italian farmers gave their harvests a longer shelf life by salting and evaporating tomatoes, allowing the community to reap their nutritional benefits year-round. Tomatoes are known for being high in the antioxidant lycopene, which is responsible for their red hue and disease-preventing properties. Surprisingly, sun-dried tomatoes are actually higher in lycopene than their fresh counterparts, making them as healthful as they are flavorful.
But back to pesto; this recipe keeps tradition with basil, extra virgin olive oil, and garlic, but turns up the nourishment with nutritional yeast and hemp seeds instead of the customary pine nut. Hemp seeds are packed with omega fatty acids, fiber, and protein. And to address what we’re all thinking, the only high you’ll get from hemp seeds is a nutritional one.
Finally, the all-powerful superfood, quinoa. It’s no longer a new, mysterious seed (the part we actually eat is the seed) only enjoyed by hippies. Americans have welcomed it as an acceptable alternative to rice, which is great news due to its excellent health benefits. Higher in protein than brown rice, and brimming with essential amino acids, quinoa is always a terrific choice. Plus, it cooks much faster than rice.
This recipe for Quinoa with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Pesto is basically a bowl of superfood that tastes incredible. It’s perfect for a potluck, or made ahead and taken to the office for lunch.
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes
- Hot water
- 1 cup packed fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup hemp seeds (or coarsely chopped walnuts)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- ½ tsp. nutritional yeast
- ¼ tsp. sea salt (or Himalayan salt)
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tbsp. water
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 cups cooked quinoa
- 2 cups fresh baby spinach
Here are your instructions:
Soak sun-dried tomatoes in hot water for 30 minutes. Drain well; slice thinly. Set aside.
To make pesto, place basil, hemp seeds, garlic, yeast, salt, pepper, and water in a food processor (or blender). Pulse until coarsely ground.
Slowly add oil. Blend until smooth (or until desired consistency is reached). Set aside.
Combine quinoa, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto, and spinach in a large serving bowl; toss gently to blend.