Heather’s Quinoa

A one-skillet quinoa recipe - quinoa, corn, chopped kale and pan-toasted tofu tossed with a big dollop of pesto and finished off with a few roasted cherry tomatoes.

Heather’s Quinoa

This quinoa recipe is an odd bird of sorts, but it was so well received that I thought I'd share it with you. Heather, my sister was on her way over for lunch. Wanting to avoid a trip to the store, I committed myself to throwing lunch together using whatever I had on hand.
Big plate of quinoa with tomatoes, pesto, and pepitas
Now, I rarely combine tofu with Italian-style sauces, but this (and a few other questionable culinary moves) came into play as I reached for ingredients from both fridge and freezer. Working toward a nutritious, somewhat balanced, in-the-realm-of-healthy main course here's where I ended up. In a sentence - a skillet of quinoa, corn, chopped lacinato kale and pan-toasted tofu tossed with a big dollop of pesto and finished off with a few roasted cherry tomatoes.

Roasted cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet
I've cooked this many times in the years since, and it's a great late-summer recipe that comes together quickly, especially if you keep a few of the components on hand. For example, I like to keep big jars of roasted tomatoes at the ready. Toasted pepitas are often in a bowl on the counter. And at some point during any given week there is leftover quinoa.
pepitas toasted on a baking sheet

Heather's Quinoa: Variations

There are infinite ways to switch this up. If I have paneer cheese on hand, I like to swap that in for the tofu. You brown the paneer in a skillet, the same way you would tofu, and it gets nice and sizzly. So good.

And while you can certainly swap in a wide range of grains here - rice, millet, etc. - I love it with quinoa. You see it pictured here with tri-color quinoa, but I often make it with the white variety. Th recipe calls for three cups of cooked quinoa, if you're not sure how to make it, here's a page with my preferred method of how to cook quinoa.

Pepitas are my go to for crunch. Seconds choice is toasted cashews (chopped  just a bit).

Big plate of quinoa with tomatoes, pesto, and pepitas
If you want to make this even more substantial, you can add in a couple hard boiled eggs, sliced into quarters, around the perimeter. 
Big plate of quinoa with tomatoes, pesto, and pepitas

I hope you enjoy this one as much as we did. The first time I made this was in 2008, and we still make it regularly. Especially when it is peak pesto season and cherry tomatoes are abundant. 

More Quinoa Recipes

101 Cookbooks Membership

Premium Ad-Free membership includes:
-Ad-free content
-Print-friendly recipes
-Spice / Herb / Flower / Zest recipe collection PDF
-Weeknight Express recipe collection PDF
-Surprise bonuses throughout the year

spice herb flower zest
weeknight express

Heather's Quinoa

5 from 4 votes

If you don't have the time or inclination make roasted cherry tomatoes, substitute some chopped, moist, sun-dried tomatoes. Also, a delicious alternative to the tofu in this recipe is paneer cheese which can stand up to the heat without losing its form. Vegans can leave out the Parmesan in the pesto and make it more of a basil-nut drizzle - still tasty, and a good fit for this recipe.

  • a splash of extra-virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of fine grain sea salt
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa* (or brown rice, or other grain)
  • 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
  • 1 1/2 cups kale, spinach or other hearty green, finely chopped
  • 2 cups extra-firm tofu, browned in a skillet a bit
  • 1/3 cup pesto
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
  • 1/4 cup roasted cherry tomatoes
  1. In a big skillet or pot heat the olive oil and salt over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallot and cook for a minute or two. Stir in the quinoa and corn and cook until hot and sizzling. Stir in the kale and then the tofu, cooking until tofu is heated through.

  2. Remove the skillet from heat and stir in the pesto and pumpkin seeds. Mix well so the pesto is spread throughout. Taste and season with salt, if needed. Turn everything out onto a platter and top with the cherry tomatoes.


Serves 4 - 6.

*Rinse about 2 cups quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan heat the quinoa and 3 1/3 cups water until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa fluffs up, about 15 minutes. Quinoa is done when you can see the curlique in each grain, and it is tender with a bit of pop to each bite. Drain any extra water and set aside.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
52 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
weeknight express
101cookbooks social icon
Join my newsletter!
Weekly recipes and inspirations.

Post Your Comment

5 from 4 votes (2 ratings without comment)
Recipe Rating


I’m eating this as I’m typing and I must that this is a gorgeous recipe! – Especially with your home-made pesto. This has instantly became one of my favourites. Who else would think if tofu traditional pesto!5 stars

Jacqueline Power

    Thanks Jacqueline!

    Heidi Swanson

Many years ago, this was the first recipe I made from 101cookbooks.com and it was so delicious I made it the next week for a potluck at work. It went over so well it has become a staple to enjoy at home or share with friends and colleagues. I’ve made several different variations, but one of the most popular was when I was out of tofu and used cannellini beans instead.5 stars


    Thanks Jeremy! I can imagine a bean version would be fantastic.

    Heidi Swanson

This is a cracker recipe Heidi! I had it for lunch today. So much colour and beautifully healthful. I used roasted almonds to replace the pumpkin seeds I didn’t have handy.. Bellissimo!
Many thanks from Down Under


Ha, I agree with Rebecca (about the casual excellence), but the truly amazing thing is that it looks fabulous too.

Expat Brussels

I think your stash of random “stuff to use up” this week looked almost identical to mine! I was trying to figure out what to do with the dabs of leftover stuff – cooked rice and quinoa, some spinach that needed to be used, the last couple ears of corn from the garden – I made this last night and despite the “what is this” look I received from my husband, he had three (THREE!!!) helpings of this vegetarian meal! (That NEVER happens). It was an odd, but delicious combination – balances of sweet roasted tomatoes, slightly crunchy corn… amazing! Thanks so much!
HS: Glad it worked out Laura 🙂 -h


Heidi, I love when you post about things that you threw together with whatever happens to be on hand! Sounds delish, what a great combination.


oooh this looks so yummy


I recently came across this site and have loved everything I have made from here! I love quinoa, so this will probably be the next recipe I try. Looks good!
HS: thanks for the nice note!


Man oh man, but do I love quinoa! This looks great. I used to make an Italian style tofu stir fry with kale, tofu, stewed tomatoes, black olives and basil. Needless to say, I’m all over the flavours of this dish!
Plus, my partner hates tofu (sigh) so your suggestion of making it with paneer made me think, “Hmmm….he likes Saag Paneer, maybe I could make Saag Tofu and MAYBE HE WOULDN’T NOTICE!” Shameless, isn’t it?

Choosy Beggar Tina

My sister is a vegetarian and I’m always looking for new ways to impress and spoil her — I think I found one!


I had this for lunch both yesterday and today with chicken instead of tofu (for the non-vegetarians) and it was insanely delicious!


I made the salad today for lunch using a few substitutions. First, I didn’t have a shallot, but a leek, so I used that. I had arugula growing wild in my garden so I used that in place of the kale. I used zucchini in place of the tofu and I used the basil from my garden with pine nuts and garlic. I skipped the cheese. I am sure that it wasn’t quite the same as yours, Heidi, but I have to say it was delicious. I really liked the quinoa warm with the roasted tomatoes. Thank you for the inspiration. I have been reading your site for a few months and really enjoy it. I love your photographs; I wish you could figure out how to have them on the print recipe page. I am such a visual person; it helps me make a better final creation.


I enjoy the art of art of tossing whatever is on hand together with oils, spices and other flavorful delights to hopefully get a masterpiece of a meal. Thanks for the new inspiration!

conflict geek

Can’t get enough of your great recipes!! Thank you. I made the roasted tomato soup twice this weekend and Nikki’s cookies for my grandkids (and me!!)
Looking forward to trying Heather’s Quinoa.


Nice recipe, very nutritive. I will try it as another use to quinoa, which I love. And it´s compatible with the Seignalet diet! Congratulations for your site, I find it very inspirational. I still have in mind your black bean-based brownie…Ummmm.


This looks delish! What is odd about tofu and Italian sauces? One of my fave dishes to make is tofu parmigiana.


That quinoa looks fantastic and I LOOOOVe that serving platter!


Everything about this dish, I LOVE!
It’s definitely on the list of things to try .. .
Thanks as always Heidi!


Oh this looks like such a good combo of flavors. And, to top it off, I think I have all the ingredients in the fridge!
Really looking forward to making this!


I wasn’t planning on hitting the store, but this looks very inviting, very delicious and so satisying. thanks…
I am new here, this is the first I have read, and my only regret is not finding it sooner…


Looks too good!


This recipe holds an endless realm of delicious possibilities. I love the idea of using paneer. I live with a girl from India, so she might laugh at my unconventional use of it, but oh well! Paneer is amazing.


It looks wonderful fresh and colourful.


Made this today with some Quinoa I had bought and didn’t know what to do with.
Very delicious and satisfying. I used Feta because that was what I had, and it worked very well, and Spinach ditto. I also used some baby yellow plum tomatoes with some cherry ones and they looked beautiful.Thankyou for these truly inspired and inspiring recipes


I’m thinking quinoa and Italian sauces would go quite well together.


Wow, this looks superb.


Sweet jesus this was just what I was looking for you are such a mind reader


I bet paneer or even halloumi would be awesome in this. I love that you used pumpkin seeds where so many tend to use pine nuts. I love them, but they are all too often a go-to nut in these types of dishes.


I have some cherry tomatoes on my table begging me to make this.


Quinoa is so delicious, that only a pat of butter is needed, but treat it as if it were fried rice, and it is sublime. We are wondering if it could be ground into flour for gluten free Communion Bread to be mixed with butter and water, patted out, cut into tiny squares, and baked. Any ideas?

Nicky Smith

It does look good. I don’t know where to buy tofu in this country (the supermarkets don’t seem to sell it), and only quite like it anyway, so I’d probably substitute feta cheese, which I love in a dish like this (have you ever tried couscous mixed with cubed feta and roasted butternut squash? To die for, especially with a fresh tomato sauce on the top!).

Mrs Redboots

that looks awesome!


Sounds and looks so good!

Gina's Public Diary

I love these kinds of recipes where you can change the ingredients with whatever you have around. I want to try it with barley or wild rice.

Fit Bottomed Girls

I just wanted to say, your site has helped me so much with my goal of eating veggies on a regular basis. (Me and my hubby love brussel sprouts now! Who would have thought!)
And I just recently decided to incorporate whole grains, so you’re going to help with that too!
Thanks Heidi!


Thanks for a really satisfying quinoa recipe.


This is SO what I got in my CSA box this week. Can’t wait to add it to quinoa (a family fave/staple). Yum!


That picture is beautiful and the dish sounds yummy-very creative!


Paneer would be a great substitute for the tofu.
Such a yummy sounding and rustic looking meal.


I just roasted up a bunch of orange and red cherry tomatoes, so plan to try this recipe pronto.
I also just made Nikki’s cookies this morning and can’t… stop… eating them! Thanks for posting it, Heidi. I wrote up my experience making them on my site.


This looks delish. I love quinoa. Thank you for the recipe and the fabulous pictures. I think I’m going to sneek this in the hospital to my sister in law who just had a baby…..I can’t subject to that nasty hospital food! The vegetarian menu is awful!


what perfect timing! i was trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight and just happened upon your new post!
i made a few adjustments, based on what was in my fridge (brown rice, not quinoa; spinach, not kale) — it was delish!
thanks for such a good treat.


This week’s lunch, I think. Thank you!


Hello Heidi,
In my eyes there is nothing odd or questionable about this recipe – in fact the dish sounds (and looks) fab and exciting! I love the way tofu can pair with everything and anything, on its own and not as a substitute for something else.
p.s. Love the plate!


How creative, that looks delish!

Aissa Galoso

We are having your roast tomato soup for dinner tonight Heidi and this would be great for a busy Monday night. Thanks again Heidi and hope your sister has a great journey. With this sort of food I should think that she would want to rush back actually.


More Recipes

101cookbooks social icon
Join my newsletter!
Weekly recipes and inspirations.

Popular Ingredients

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of its User Agreement and Privacy Policy.

101 Cookbooks is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Any clickable link to amazon.com on the site is an affiliate link.