Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad

This Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad is on deck today and these are EVERYTHING!
Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad from (@whatsgabycookin)

My sister is constantly asking me to develop more recipes that are easy to make on the weekend and can be taken to work throughout the week – so obviously, as a good sister, I’m happy to oblige! She works, doesn’t LOOOOOOVE cooking and really doesn’t have time to cook on a daily basis, so prepping ahead on the weekend is her jam!  This Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad is one of those recipes I’ve been making since college, and I’m obsessed and it’s perfect for a prep-ahead moment.

It’s beyond easy. My favorite basil vinaigrette recipe gets mixed with some cooked quinoa and then just toss in some fresh mozzarella balls and some cherry tomatoes!! And that’s the Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad in a nutshell!!

Those of you new to basil vinaigrette, get ready, it’s a game changer. I make a batch every week and use it for all sorts of things like this quinoa situation, I throw it on top of fish and chicken, use it as a salad dressing, you name it. Just a quick word to the wise – when you’re prepping this ahead of time, don’t add the tomatoes to the mixture until the day of. Tomatoes should always be stored at room temperature so you just want to add them right before you eat. When you refrigerate them, they loose their flavor and ain’t nobody got time for that!!

More of my favorite make ahead work lunches are right HERE!


5 Tips from a Private Chef email series

Get my latest recipes + my bonus 5 Tips From a Private Chef email series

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Cassie

    I love your cooking method. I typically just boil it in a covered pot of simmering water. It looks perfectly fluffy!

  2. Blog is the New Black

    Obsessed with quinoa lately, too…. I have some in the fridge and I’ve been looking for the perfect way to enjoy it. BINGO!

  3. MRSDH

    Why did you cook your quinoa this way? I bring the water to a boil, add the quinoa, then simmer it for 10-15 minutes some times adding more water when needed. It comes out fluffy and not clumpy.

    • Gaby

      just trying out something new!! totally impressed with the results 🙂

  4. katie

    this sounds amazing! I can’t wait to give this recipe a try!

  5. Emilie @ Emilie’s Enjoyables

    wow i’m obsessed with quinoa as well and have never heard of steaming it! I can’t wait to try this method!

  6. Double Dipped Life

    I bought some quinoa a few months ago… and still it sits in my cupboard. I looked at it last night knowing I had to try it soon. I think this is the perfect recipe to get me started! Thanks!

  7. Kristin

    This salad looks really delicious – I have never made quinoa, will try this recipe for sure! Thanks!

  8. Liz @ Virtually Homemade

    Wow – I do love quinoa. I mostly love it because it’s keeps my belly flat too! So digestible. Cool idea to steam as well.

  9. Kristin

    Bought all the ingredients today to make tomorrow – can’t wait to try it!

  10. Brooke

    Leave it to Matt to turn quinoa up to 11. Awesome technique! I gotta try that. Also, you can cook the grain in chicken stock to make it super flavorful. #justsayin

  11. Lucy Lean

    I second Brooke – a little stock in the water really goes a long way – that or making it sweet for a breakfast porridge – I love the stuff!

  12. Kalyn

    I have not steamed quinoa but I think I must try it. This sounds fantastic!

  13. marla {family fresh cooking}

    I too am nuts for quinoa. The steaming thing is new to me. Will give it a whirl. Does it make it fluffier??

  14. Ashley @ Hudson on the Potomac

    Totally obsessed with quinoa right now too– can’t get enough! I had no idea you could steam it!

  15. Ann P.

    I’ve had problems with clumpy quinoa in the past, so this is such a helpful post for me! LOVE!

  16. elly

    I use the boil & steam method for brown rice and it works wonders. I used to HATE making brown rice. I’ll definitely have to give it a try with the quinoa. Love this flavor combo, too.

  17. Kristin

    Is it easy to find basil vinegar? Do you know if Whole Foods has it? I didn’t have any, so just used champagne vinegar … the salad tastes great and light!

    • Gaby

      Hey Kristen! I got my basil vin at whole foods but some whole foods have different things so it’s not always there! Red wine or champagne vinegar are both great substitutions!! Glad you loved it! Thanks 🙂

  18. Caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy

    I love quinoa too! Not only is it a nutritional powerhouse, but it’s also GF! Your salad sounds amazinggggg. I could eat pesto with just about anything — yum!! i’ll have to give this a go! thanks for sharing! i love your blog!

  19. Kristina Vanni

    I am a huge fan of quinoa. What a great way to add in extra protein! Looks great!

  20. Dori Kice

    I just made this for dinner tonight! It was amazing!!! This will be my summer go-to meal! Thank you!!

  21. Jen @ Savory Simple

    I can’t wait to try this technique! I’ve gotten lazy with quinoa and tend to just make it in the rice cooker, which kills whatever texture it has.

  22. 101 Salad Recipes for SummerFood – Construed

    […] Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad – What’s Gaby Cooking […]

  23. Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad « Dancing for Food

    […] sister, and her boyfriend.  We all contributed to the picnic beforehand, and our contribution was this pesto caprese quinoa salad.  It was super delicious and, like most quinoa recipes, quite […]

  24. Krista McAllister

    Hi Gaby,
    I only recently started cooking for myself. I made this recipe the other night and it was very spicy hot (very oniony). I have a few questions. What do you mean by one shallot? I took it to mean the whole thing even though it was really 3 cloves together. Maybe I was only supposed to use one clove? And the shallots at my supermarket ranged in size as well. Is there maybe a way to tell me how much you used in say tablespoons or cups? Also, I don’t have a food processor so I skipped that step. Is that a crucial step that I shouldn’t have skipped? Overall, I really liked the recipe and would love to make it again if it wasn’t so oniony. Any suggestions you could give me would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Gaby

      Hi Krista!

      Thanks for your questions! Yes, 1 shallot is just one of the cloves. I tend to buy the smaller shallots as I think they have more flavor and then you don’t need as much.

      Also – you can substitute a blender for the food processor!


  25. Dominique Piche

    This sounds delicious!! I’ve also tried toasting my quinoa before cooking it. You just put the quinoa in a frying pan and toast on low heat (stirring occasionally) for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant. The outcome is delish! The quinoa tastes nuttier for some reason.

  26. Juice Cleanse 101

    […] – so if you’re totally anti juicing, might I suggest you check out these healthy quinoa salads I’ve been whipping up post juice […]

  27. Healthy Recipes to Kick Start 2013

    […] Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad […]

  28. Theresa

    This salad is fantastic!! I love quinoa.. Can you list the nutritional information? I just found your site and am looking forward to using more of your recipes. I can’t eat wheat/or gluten. Do you have any recipes dedicated to that?

    • Gaby

      Hi Theresa!

      I have a whole section on my recipe index that is dedicated to gluten free recipes!

      And I don’t provide nutritional info on my recipes, although I’m working with a company on potentially being able to provide info like that in the near future!
      Thanks 🙂

  29. Airplane Food 101 | What's Gaby Cooking

    […] Salad: I always bring some kind of grain salad on a flight to really have some substance. This pesto caprese quinoa salad is a great option as it will keep you full and it’s seriously delish! You could also bring an […]

  30. Lynn

    I also love the varieties of recipes you can do with quinoa. I have the light and the red but haven’t been able to find the black as of yet. I love the idea of steaming the quinoa. Recently I found a recipe called Perfect Brown Rice by Saveur (you can do a search) and it has a cooking period in lots of water and then at the end it is steamed It was the perfect brown rice. Thanks Gaby for all your time and recipes.

  31. Lyhn

    I made your Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad for dinner last night to go with Moroccan Turkey Burgers by Cooking Light Magazine July/August 1999 which I have made many times through the years. I loved your
    Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad. It was so light and the basil vinaigrette was so tasty. I will be making this again and also for family outings. I tried your new way of cooking the quinoa and it was very light and fluffy. I posted earlier how I steam brown rice now and it is a great way of cooking both the brown rice and quinoa. Keep the delicious recipes coming.

  32. Sarah

    I love discovering new recipes for quinoa. I will try your recipe with the keanwah as I have had no luck being creative with it nor can I get my husband to eat it. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks Gaby!!

  33. Cheese Bellied Fried Pickle Burgers – What's Gaby Cooking

    […] I’m pretty sure these absolutely, positively, 100% need to make an appearance on your 4th of July spread! And don’t forget everything else that’s going to rock your party like this Stone Fruit Sangria, Mini Crab Cakes, Caramel Brownies, and a Quinoa Salad! […]

  34. 10 Easy Lunches (that you can make ahead of time and take to work!) – What's Gaby Cooking

    […] – Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad – co-workers will be majorly jealous of this insta-worthy […]

  35. Introducing Meal Prep – Glisten & Grace

    […] Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad by What’s Gaby Cookin […]

  36. Introducing Meal Prep – Glisten and Grace

    […] Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad by What’s Gaby Cookin […]