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Note from Julie: The photographs for this 15-minute spinach pesto quinoa bowl have been refreshed. The original recipe from 2014 is the same; just the photos have been given a facelift!

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One of my favorite things about summer is the abundant amount of basil that is just flourishing in the garden.

I do also enjoy that basil is relatively easy to find year-round so I can have pesto when the craving hits.

I’m also pretty sure we all know by now my affinity for all things pesto, considering I’m raving about pesto above.

You can really never have enough pesto recipes so why not just another one at you.

This time, it only takes 15 minutes to make!

Yes, super super easy and so filling!

Don’t you love quick dinner ideas?

This 15-minute spinach pesto quinoa bowl brought to you by…me! ‘

This came together because I literally did not feel like cooking one night but we needed something to eat and I’m not a fan of going out to eat when we already have food at home.

Let’s break this down; why is this such a great recipe?

Quinoa cooks incredibly fast;

Spinach wilts down and cooks incredibly fast;

And well, if you already have pesto on hand, you just gotta throw it in, mix everything around, shave some beautiful parm on top and seriously – quick dinner in 15 minutes.

I got you ;)

Can you add a protein to this?

Yes! We’ve added in shredded chicken before or cubed chicken.

Shrimp would be great in this too.

Can you make your own pesto?


In fact, I have a few recipes for homemade pesto if you are interested.

They all would work in this recipe:

If you wanted to make traditional basil pesto, use the arugula pesto recipe and sub out the arugula and sub in basil!

What type of quinoa should I use?

You can use a mix of regular white quinoa and red quinoa or whatever quinoa you want.

Can I make this with rice if I don’t like quinoa?


Farro and other grains would be a good option to sub in here too.

Other quinoa recipes you may enjoy:

4.78 from 9 votes

Spinach Pesto Quinoa Bowl

You’ll have dinner on the table in no time with this 15-minute spinach pesto quinoa bowl! 
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4


  • 2 cups (340 g) multi-colored quinoa, uncooked
  • 6 cups (180 g) baby spinach
  • 4 tablespoons basil pesto
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (50 g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese plus more for topping
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  • Cook quinoa according to the instructions on the box or bag. (Instead of water, I used chicken stock for more flavor but if you want to keep this a vegetarian dish, go with water or vegetable stock.)
  • Once quinoa is done cooking, turn heat to medium then add spinach, pesto, salt, and Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine and heat until spinach has wilted, pesto is evenly distributed, and Parmesan cheese has melted.
  • Serve immediately with extra Parmesan cheese, if desired.


Serving: 0.25of recipe, Calories: 470kcal, Carbohydrates: 64g, Protein: 22g, Fat: 18g, Fiber: 8g

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

The default measuring system for this website is US Customary. Unit conversions are provided for convenience and as a courtesy only. While we strive to provide accurate unit conversions, please be aware that there may be some discrepancies.

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Photographs by Erin Alvarez

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  1. I’m planning on trying this recipe this week, but I have a question. Is this 6 packed cups of spinach? Or about how many grams/ounces does this take? Thanks!

    1. sorry for the lack of clarity in the recipe. it’s loosely packed spinach. i just put handfuls into a 4-cup measuring cup and eyeballed when it was 4 cups, dumped it in, then another few handfuls until it reached 2 cups then dumped it in. i didn’t measure this in grams/ounces so i’m sorry i don’t have that for you.

    2. @Julie Chiou, Thank you so much for the quick response. It was much appreciated and helpful. I made this for lunch for my husband and me, and we both loved it! I love that it’s simple and fast and has great flavor. I ended up tossing in the whole 5-oz container of spinach, since I like lots of spinach. I also added some toasted pepitas for a little crunch. Thanks for a great recipe! I’ll definitely make this again!

  2. I’d like to make this for a breastfeeding mama and her hubby because these are flavours they’d enjoy (and not have an adverse effect on the taste of her milk) but wonder how well it would work if I were to make a batch and freeze half for them? I’ll be subbing some home-grown organic kale for the spinach and maybe also adding some other protein like chicken, garbanzos or edamame to bulk up the protein for them both. I don’t have much experience with quinoa since my family doesn’t care for the taste of it. Your recipe looks so simple and perfect!

    1. i haven’t tried freezing quinoa myself but i honestly can’t see it doing poorly. i know pesto freezes extremely well so i would totally give it a shot! yes, those protein options you mentioned sound like great additions!

  3. This is so tasty! I used vegetable broth and added some sauteed vegetables (an onion and a bunch of asparagus) with the cheese and pesto at the end. There wasn’t any parmesan available so I used what was either gouda or edam. Thank you for sharing this – I will make it again!

  4. Thanks so much for the great recipe! It’s so easy and so delicious. I make it once a week. I like to sautée mushrooms while the quinoa is cooking and add them at the end.