Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad

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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!Β  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.Β 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!

Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad

5 from 1 vote
This Pesto Caprese Quinoa Salad is the perfect prep-ahead recipe.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Course Salad
Cuisine Italian
Servings 3 -4 servings


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 recipe Basil Vinaigrette
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 cup small fresh mozzarella balls halved
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Cook the quinoa according to the package directions
  • Once the quinoa has steamed, transfer it to a bowl and set aside.
  • Make the basil vinaigrette according to the recipe instructions.
  • Combine the basil vinaigrette with the quinoa and toss to combine. Spoon into a bowl and top with the cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve at a later time.


  1. 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.

  2. 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!

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

  4. 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

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

    1. 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 πŸ™‚

  8. 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!

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

  10. 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.

    1. 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!


  11. 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.

  12. 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?

    1. 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 πŸ™‚

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!!

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