Perfect for a day in the sun, this roasted zucchini and quinoa bowl is tossed with tangy feta and a bright and tangy cilantro pepita pesto to make a great light meal.
roasted zucchini and quinoa bowls with cilantro pepita pesto

Did I mention that the.boy and I had gelatoย every day in Italy?

No, really.


Sometimes twice.


And this was in addition to:

breakfast, the Italian version of a “light lunch” (<– spoiler alert: not light), dinner, dessert, at least three cappuccinos, and a bottle and a half of wine.

I know they say that the Mediterranean diet is supposed to cure what ails you, but somehow I don’t think that holds true when you’re an American tourist shoving food into your mouth like there’s no tomorrow.


Fact: I regret nothing.

Also fact: the second we got home, I instituted a salad every day rule, at least until we can comfortably zip into our jeans again.

That’s my coy way of saying: GET READY TO SEE LOTS OF SALADS.

Also, who’s with me?


Buttttttย this is not a salad.

It’s a BOWL.

Some of you are thinking “tomato tomahto”, and YES. That is true, at least in the case of this particular bowl. But there’s something about the phrase “bowl food” that makes me want to dive right in and something about the word “salad” that makes me want to eat a brownie.


The recipe comes from the book Bowl and Spoon, the latest cookbook from the dynamic duo, Sarah and Hugh Forte of The Sprouted Kitchen (one of my favorite food blogs ever ever ever). Their first cookbook was so captivating that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this one and it did not disappoint. Though not exclusively vegetarian, it is full of recipes that make me think about produce in new and exciting ways. And they’re approachable too. Short ingredient lists, short instruction lists – just simple, really good food.

I’ve made a few recipes from it so far (the Hippie Bowl is life changing), but this zucchini and quinoa bowl just seemed too seasonally perfect to pass up. The original recipe called for the zucchini to be grilled, but since I don’t have ready access to outdoor cooking paraphernalia, I broiled it, which brings out its natural sweetness along with a touch of charred smokiness. The salad is dressed in a spicy cilantro pepita pesto that is a nice change from the traditional basil and pine nut combo and gives the bowl a bit of a kick.


Roasted Zucchini and Quinoa Bowls with Cilantro Pepita Pesto
Perfect for a day in the sun, this roasted zucchini and quinoa bowl is tossed with tangy feta and a bright and tangy cilantro pepita pesto to make a great light meal.
Yield: 4-6 servings
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1½ lb zucchini
  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup crumbled feta
For the pesto
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 scallions, white and light green parts
  • ½ cup toasted pepitas, plus more for garnish
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • zest and juice of 2 large limes
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Rinse the quinoa to remove any bitter resin, draining well. In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and the broth. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff the quinoa and turn off the heat, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Meanwhile, heat broiler to high. Quarter the zucchini into spears that are about 2-3 inches in length. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with paprika and salt. Toss to coat. Broil for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until al dente. Remove to cool completely.
  3. To make the pesto, pulse the garlic, scallions, pepitas, and sea salt in a food processor. Add the jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse until combined. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil. Add a splash of water, if necessary. Taste and adjust, adding more citrus or salt.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the quinoa with the zucchini, feta, and pesto. Serve at room temperature or keep covered and chilled until ready to eat.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ⅙th of recipe

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35 Responses to Roasted Zucchini and Quinoa Bowls with Cilantro Pepita Pesto

  1. Beth says:

    Your trip sounds wonderful. And I’ll definitely put this cookbook on my list!

  2. This looks soooo good! I’m doubling the recipe. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. debbie says:

    Give me anything with cilantro! Looks delicious and welcome back from Italy!

  4. Johanna GGG says:

    I am surprisingly into bowls rather than salads – it does seem healthy in such a nicer way – speaking of which gelati every day sounds right and proper in italy

  5. I want to put this pesto on everything!

    Oh, we had gelato every day when we were in Rome too. The pistachio gelato is just too good to not eat constantly. Don’t even get me started on the “light lunch”. We ate SO much.

  6. I think you were legally obligated to eat gelato every day while in Italy – I think it might be an actual LAW. And, YAY PESTO!

  7. So healthy and perfect for summer. Love this girl!

  8. Sounds like you did Italy right!!!! Gelato everyday. . uh, of course!!!! can’t wait to hear/see more about your honeymoon! and I’m with you on the salads. . I have been eating salads every day. . so bring ’em on! and I love this zucchini and quinoa bowl! my kinda meal! love this!

  9. Oh Joanne, you are on diet food now after al that gelato. What could be better than zucchini and quinoa?.

  10. I’m so jealous of your gelatos every day! And we’re all about zucchini right now. It’s coming in like crazy so if you need more you know where to find me. ๐Ÿ™‚
    Happy Monday friend!

  11. That sounds amazing-gelato for daysss. This looks amazing and like a delicious transition back to real world healthiness ๐Ÿ™‚ Loving the cilantro/pepita pesto, that’s super unique. Pinning!

  12. This sounds delicious and so does the book you mention. Never had a cilantro pesto before but with the jalapeno in there must give it a nice kick! Hope you had a lovely 4th weekend!

  13. Well, it’s your honeymoon, so..why not?
    Your quinoa bowl looks healthy and delicious with pepita pesto!

  14. Krista says:

    Gelato every day is the only sensible way to travel through Italy in the Summer. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Sues says:

    So jealous of all your Italy eats… Even though this “bowl” is your attempt to get healthy, it still looks absolutely delicious and satisfying!!

  16. First I have to say, I like the way you and the.boy vacation! (What better way to experience a place than to dive head-first into the food, right? ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) And bowl definitely = comfort to me! I am totally on board with this.

  17. I would have been upset had you not had gelato every day. I’m already dieting for purchase next visit to Italy ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. SallyBR says:

    Even though I haven’t been to Italy lately, I had a quinoa salad last night too… although I would call it “work in progress” – the recipe needs some tweaking. Not sure I’ll blog about it as is, or after I re-visit it.

    I hope we can still friends if I confess I had my salad next to a juicy grilled pork tenderloin… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  19. Erica says:

    I love this idea. And major props to cutting the zucchini in spears, that’s my favorite way of eating them!! Italy sounds delicious, and gelato every day is doing it right ๐Ÿ˜‰

  20. Julia says:

    Gaaaah it sounds like you had such a delicious time in Italy! I typically follow up a stint of sugar-eating with all the salads. Loving this healthy yet deeelish bowl – a great way to get you back on track while still whetting your whistle ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hope you had a great 4th, dear!

  21. I hear you on the advantages of ‘bowl’ terminology! It has an air of excitement that ‘salad’ struggles to deliver…perhaps because you never know what is hiding at the bottom of the bowl. Whatever the reason, this particular bowl looks great.

  22. Can I have this AND gelato every day?

  23. chloe says:

    Can’t wait to try this – sounds like a simple weeknight dinner and perfect for summer!

  24. Had a big chuckle at your ‘bowl’ vs ‘salad’ comment ๐Ÿ™‚ Sooo true!!
    And what a creative, tasty salad (oops, I mean bowl). You always make me want to become a vegetarian, Joanne!

  25. Zainab says:

    Hhahah ….> I regret nothing! Lol! I wouldn’t either ๐Ÿ˜‰ And I am in for salad everyday!!

  26. i know I know- don’t hate:((( I have been gone a few weeks but I am back and what a perfect time too as this pesto with the pepita and cilantro is just calling my name! It is AMAZING!

  27. You are so wanting me to be that tourist! I want to eat all of Italy. And regret nothing.
    This looks amazing! I am excited for your upcoming salad recipes. Although.. I don’t think I can remember the last time I made salad..

  28. Kelly says:

    Haha love it, we did the same thing, a gelato everyday is the best way to travel around Italy ๐Ÿ™‚ Yay for salads everyday. This bowl looks amazing! Love all that gorgeous zucchini!

  29. easypeasy says:

    Perfect! We just picked our first zucchinis from the garden so this recipe is very timely ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Kate says:

    Pretty sure daily gelato is required when in Italy.

  31. I wish I was eating this for lunch! I think I could even get my husband to eat zucchini this way!

  32. tigerfish says:

    I don’t think I can survive with salad every day. But it is always good to have some inspiration from here ๐Ÿ™‚

  33. Sarah says:

    Bahaha I am literally experiencing the same thing.. We just got back from a Europe trip and I managed to gain a huge muffin top eating multiple pastries/day. Salad time!! This look delicious as per usual ๐Ÿ™‚

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