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Quinoa Pesto Salad {A Pasta Salad Makeover}

{www.ReMarkableHome.net} Quinoa Pesto Salad with parmesan, pine nuts, and peas

A few years ago I developed a recipe that I call Six P Salad.  It is delicious and super easy.  It is a cold pasta salad made with pasta, pesto, parmesan, peas, pepper, and pine nuts…6 p’s!  I really like it.  It just tastes very fresh and light.

Well, for St. Patrick’s Day I made my Cilantro Pesto Chicken because it is green, it is healthy, and we all love it.  I wanted to make something green to go along with it and I thought of my Six P Salad.  BUT, I was trying to cut back on bad carbs so the idea of eating pasta wasn’t really sitting well.  I had picked up a bag of quinoa at Costco and hadn’t gotten around to trying it.  So, I had the idea to make my salad with quinoa instead of pasta.  I put the quinoa in the rice cooker, added the water, and pressed cook, excited about my idea. {more after the break}

After 20 minutes or so I started the smell the quinoa and was having second thoughts! I didn’t like the smell…it smelled like cooked vegetables, which I admit I hate (almost all of them).  Well, the quinoa finished cooking and I made my husband and son be guinea pigs and taste it to see if it was edible.  I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to taste that stuff that smelled like stinky vegetables.  When they both said it tasted good, I decided to go ahead and make the salad!  I didn’t even taste it myself still!

So, I made the salad and had my husband taste it.  He couldn’t stop eating it.  I tasted it and it really was delicious! I think I may even like it better than with the pasta.  The quinoa really soaked up the pesto and took on the flavor.  It was the perfect side dish with the chicken and made our St. Patrick’s Day dinner very festive with its fresh green color.  I happened to have some fresh basil on hand so I added a few leaves and it was wonderful!

Definitely give this recipe a try! I think you will love it!

Quinoa Pesto Salad (or 5 P+1 Q Salad)


  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Quinoa (cooked and cooled to room temperature according to package directions)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup prepared basil pesto (homemade or store bought)
  • 3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper (or to taste)
  • 4 basil leaves, optional


Cook your quinoa according to package directions.  Allow to cool to about room temperature.  Place in a bowl and add pesto and salt.  Mix well.  Toast pine nuts in a dry sauté pan over medium heat until golden brown.  Watch them closely as they go from toasted to burnt very quickly.  Immediately remove from pan and allow to cool.  Add pine nuts to quinoa, as well as cheese, pepper, and frozen peas.  The peas will defrost while the salad is chilling.  Chill until cold, at least 3 hours.  Chiffonade fresh basil and add to salad just before serving or use as a garnish.

{www.ReMarkableHome.net} Quinoa Pesto Salad with parmesan, pine nuts, and peas


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