Hi there! I’m Valentina and I’m so happy to be here today, sharing my newest quinoa recipe with you. I’m the owner, writer, recipe developer and photographer of Cooking On The Weekends. My blog is about cooking creative, comforting food for casual entertaining. I am in love with spending time in my kitchen, making delectable, unique flavor combinations — always with the freshest, healthiest and most delicious ingredients possible. Quinoa is one of my favorite ingredients to experiment with, and I just know you’re going to love this recipe!
Of the three most widely cultivated quinoa varieties: white, red, and black, my favorite is red. It’s wonderfully earthy, subtly sweet and — like most quinoa –it adds the most perfect, delicate crunch to any dish it’s added to.
Delightfully crispy on the outside — and just soft enough on the inside — these vegetarian Spicy Red Quinoa Pesto Bites are unbelievably flavorful. Easy to make, they’re fantastic on their own, superb over pasta with a hearty tomato sauce (think spaghetti and meatballs), and make for a super tasty hors d’oeuvre that will wow your dinner party guests.
If you love these as much as I do, it’s quite possible that you won’t want to stop at one “bite.” You can either have dozens of these (which is perfectly fine!) or you could make burgers using the same recipe, just making them much larger and flattening them out a bit.
- 1 cup rich vegetable broth
- ½ cup uncooked red quinoa
- 1 cup packed, fresh basil leaves
- 6 tablespoons marinated sun-dried tomatoes, drained + 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato oil (from marinated tomatoes)
- 6 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
- ¼ cup bread crumbs (gluten free)
- ¼ cup roughly chopped yellow onion
- ½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- 2 small garlic cloves (about 1½ teaspoons, minced)
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Olive oil for the pan
- Pour the broth into a small pot, place it over high heat, and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
- Add the basil, sun-dried tomatoes (and oil), pine nuts, breadcrumbs, onion, Parmesan, garlic, cayenne, egg and salt to a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Process until you have as smooth a consistency as possible. Use a rubber spatula to transfer this to a large mixing bowl.
- Add the cooked, cooled quinoa to the bowl and mix until everything is evenly incorporated.
- Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper, and then about 1 generous tablespoon each, shape the quinoa mixture into about 2-dozen round "bites." Roll each one between your hands to create a smooth, round surface.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Coat the bottom of a large sauté pan with olive oil and place it over medium-high heat. Once the pan is very hot, add the quinoa bites, with at least an inch between them. (Depending on the size of the pan, you may need to do this a few batches.) You should hear a sizzling sound when they hit the pan — if you don’t, wait because the pan isn't hot enough. Sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, then carefully use the back of a spoon to roll them. Do this every minute or so, until the entire outside surface is golden brown. Then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for another couple of minutes or so, to be sure the inside has cooked through.
- Serve hot or warm.
Valentina is a recipe developer, food writer, food photographer and owner of the popular food blog, Cooking On The Weekends. Her focus is working with whole foods to create beautiful, comforting recipes for casual entertaining. Outside the worlds of food and photography, Valentina’s other passion is her family (including her two young boys, her husband and her dog, Maple.)
To learn more about Valentina and where her work has been featured, visit her About page and Press page at Cooking On The Weekends. You can also keep up with Valentina’s recipes on Facebook, Google , Pinterest, and Twitter.