Channel spring with this hearty Pesto Green Bean Quinoa Salad. Full of flavor, crunch, and tons of plant proteins from eggs, quinoa and cannellini beans.
It’s about that time of year when I’ve had so many bowls of soup, I can’t stand the thought of another batch simmering on my stove.
Lately, I have also been drawn to more vegetarian meals. The past few years, I have been so caught up in trying to eat more protein, I have been in a rut of eating way too much chicken.
If you’re also wanting to try some new vegetarian and seafood meals, I have some great ones coming for you.
After doing the Whole30 last year, I sort of had it set in my mind that animal protein + veggie was the ultimate healthy meal. It did feel good, but at the time, I was also detoxing from massive amounts of baked goods being consumed in place of meals after my son was born.
I certainly don’t advocate for full vegetarianism. Everyone has to make these decisions for themselves, and I know that I didn’t feel 100% healthy when I was a vegetarian.
What I do advocate is a Flexitarian lifestyle– meaning more vegetarian meals are woven into an omnivorous diet.
Animal proteins and seafood do have positive health benefits, but the problem with many diets is the exclusion or limited amount of produce included.
Flexitarian diets introduce more fruits and veggies, and also make way for healthy, fiber rich grains and legumes, and even allow for the health benefits of animal proteins.
Choosing to go Flexitarian is more about choosing your diet based on your health needs, and less because of political beliefs. In addition to eating more produce, a Flexitarian diet also means you reduce the amount of saturated animal fats in your diet (meaning a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease), and, because it takes more resources to raise animals than to grow crops, you decrease your environmental footprint, lowering C02 emissions.
You aren’t going to miss the meat in this Pesto Green Bean Quinoa Salad. In fact, your steak-loving husband probably won’t either.
And if you have this for lunch, you aren’t going to be ravenous by 3:00 and find yourself raiding the vending machine.
If you’re looking for great meal prep options, this is one. I keep the hard boiled eggs separate from the salad until serving, but otherwise the dressing just marinates the veggies making the flavors more intense in the following days.
Other great salad options for meal prep: Summer’s Freshest 3 Bean Salad, Mediterranean Quinoa Zucchini Salad, and my Blackened Salmon Niçoise. The Mango-Tarragon dressing on the Niçoise is to die for, and the salad is perfect for flexi options throughout the week– change up the protein by serving it with salmon, chicken, or by adding quinoa or beans for a vegetarian option.
Tips for Pesto Green Bean Quinoa Salad
- Choose Clean Ingredients: To really ensure the best quality ingredients, make your own pesto for this recipe. It works perfectly with my Lightened Up Basil Walnut Pesto. If buying a store bought pesto for convenience (hey, I do it, too!), read the ingredient list carefully. Often, they aren’t made with olive oil. Soy, sunflower, corn, cottonseed and safflower oils are inflammatory, and should generally be avoided. Pestos can also be full of preservatives, so try to find one that sticks to the good stuff– pesto should have olive oil, lemon juice, basil, nuts, and parmesan cheese. Added starches or chemicals are not necessary or clean!
- Make it Ahead: This salad is perfect for Sunday meal prep, and is good for days after being made. I even add the dressing, and the veggies marinate and are even better on day 2 and 3! I keep the hard boiled eggs separate and add those in when serving.
- Make it Vegan: Omit the eggs! The salad already is high in plant proteins, so they aren’t necessary. Also, you’ll need a vegetarian pesto. I love this Sun Dried Tomato Pesto by OhSheGlows.
Pesto Green Bean Quinoa Salad
- 1/2 cup quinoa uncooked, prepared to package directions
- 4 eggs hardboiled, peeled
- 5 cups green beans fresh
- 1 15-ounce can cannelinni beans rinsed and drained
- 1 cup black olives
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 1 bell pepper I used yellow, sliced
- pine nuts or parmesan cheese to garnish, optional
- herbs basil, cilantro, Italian parsley, to garnish, optional
- 1/2 cup Lightened Up Basil Walnut Pesto *see recipe notes
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Cook quinoa to package directions, and hard boil eggs.
- Steam green beans for 3-5 minutes depending on preferred texture. Cool before using.
- Make vinaigrette by adding all ingredients to a jar and shaking well.
- In a bowl, combine green beans, white beans, tomatoes, olives, and bell pepper.
- On a serving dish, layer the quinoa, top with the vegetable mix, and then add quartered eggs. Garnish with pine nuts, parmesan, and extra basil or some cilantro, if desired.
- To store, I keep the eggs separate. The quinoa and veggies can be mixed together or stored separately.
- Refrigerate leftovers for 2-3 days.
Other Vegetarian Pesto Meals:
- Green Powerhouse Pesto Plate, by OhSheGlows
- Easy Walnut Pesto Pasta with Blistered Tomatoes, by Simply Fresh Dinners
- Mediterranean Quinoa Zucchini Salad, by Vitamin Sunshine
- Summer’s Freshest 3 Bean Salad, by Vitamin Sunshine
- Quinoa Pesto Bowls, by Vitamin Sunshine
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