Easy Quinoa with Pesto and Spinach

Easy quinoa with pesto and spinach recipe

​​The Spruce / Ahlam Mansoor Raffii

  • Total: 22 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 12 mins
  • Servings: 3 to 4 servings

Quinoa and spinach are a powerfully healthy combination. The addition of pesto makes this entree absolutely delicious, and with nothing more than some cooked quinoa, fresh spinach, and some cheese or nutritional yeast to top it all off, this is a super quick and easy way to get a meal on the table. Add some oven-roasted vegetables, either roasted red peppers or tomatoes, if you want to round it out a bit more. 

Also, since it's truly a one-dish meal, so it's a great option for anyone cooking with just one burner, like student dorm residents or anyone cooking from a hot plate.

This recipe is vegetarian, and it can be vegan if you're using a vegan pesto and nutritional yeast in place of the Parmesan cheese. If you need it to be gluten-free as well, just cook the quinoa in water instead of vegetable broth, and, while your pesto should be gluten-free, it never hurts to double-check the ingredients list if you're using store-bought. 


  • 1 cup quinoa (rinsed)
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth
  • Large handful fresh spinach
  • 1/4 cup prepared vegetarian pesto
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: 2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese (or nutritional yeast)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for quinoa with pesto
    ​​The Spruce / Ahlam Mansoor Raffii
  2. Simmer quinoa in vegetable broth or water, covered, for 10 to 12 minutes, until quinoa is almost cooked.

    Simmer quinoa in vegetable broth
    ​​The Spruce / Ahlam Mansoor Raffii
  3. Fold in fresh spinach and heat for 3 to 4 more minutes, until spinach has wilted and quinoa is cooked through.

    Fold in spinach
    ​​The Spruce / Ahlam Mansoor Raffii
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in pesto, drizzle with lime juice and season well with salt and pepper to taste. Sea salt or kosher salt is always best!

    Remove from heat
    ​​The Spruce / Ahlam Mansoor Raffii
  5. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or stir in a bit of nutritional yeast for extra flavor (and a B12 boost for vegans!).

    Garnish with parmesan cheese
    ​​The Spruce / Ahlam Mansoor Raffii