4th of July Pasta Salad

Healthy salad with quinoa, tomato and avocado


Looking for a pasta salad alternative to take to this year’s 4th of July picnic?

Try Chef Sita’s Quinoa Salad with Pesto & Mozzarella served with Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes and Toasted Pine Nuts.

For a fun way to serve, skewer Bocconcini mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes, drizzle with pesto, and serve over cooked quinoa and toasted pine nuts.


1 cup white quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 ½ cups water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch fresh basil, about 2 cups, rinsed and drained
1 cup pine nuts
1-2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ball fresh mozzarella, about ½ lb
3 medium to large heirloom tomatoes
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste


In a small non-stick sauté pan, dry roast quinoa until it gives off a nutty aroma.

Meanwhile, bring the water to a boil with the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt in a small saucepan.  Add the quinoa, bring back up to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, and then turn off the heat and steam for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff with two forks.

While the quinoa is cooking, place the basil leaves, 1/3 cup of pine nuts, garlic, and sea salt and black pepper in the bowl of your food processor. Process coarsely. With the processor on, stream in ½ cup of olive oil and process until desired consistency is reached. Add more olive oil if desired. Place in a bowl and reserve for later.

Slice the tomatoes and mozzarella into 1/3 inch rounds and set aside.

Toast the remaining 2/3 cup of pine nuts in a small non-stick sauté pan over low heat. Gently toast until they’re slightly golden, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the pan and place in a bowl. Set aside.

For a fun way to serve, place a scoop of quinoa in the center of each plate. Arrange four slices of tomato around each plate and top each slice of tomato with a slice of mozzarella. Drizzle with pesto and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts. Enjoy hot or cold.

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