Go Back
+ servings

Spicy Red Quinoa Pesto Bites

These Spicy Red Quinoa Pesto Bites make a great healthy appetizer or fabulous addition to a quinoa bowl. With basil, sun-dried tomatoes, pine nuts and a hint of kick, this is one healthy recipe you will crave.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American, Gluten Free, Healthy, Quinoa
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 200kcal
Author Wendy Polisi


  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • ½ cup quinoa red
  • 1 cup basil packed
  • 6 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes drained + 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato oil (from marinated tomatoes)
  • 6 tablespoons pine nuts toasted
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs gluten free
  • ¼ cup yellow onion roughly chopped
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese finely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic about 1½ teaspoons, minced
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 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.


Vegan? Instead of using an egg, combine about 1 tablespoon of flax meal with 3 tablespoons of water. And instead of the cheese, double the pine nuts and add an extra tablespoon of the sun-dried tomatoes.


Calories: 200kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 541mg | Potassium: 358mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 445IU | Vitamin C: 3.5mg | Calcium: 132mg | Iron: 2.2mg