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Quinoa caprese salad

RECIPE: Quinoa caprese salad

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Following a FODMAP diet and in need of some dinner inspo? Look no further than this easy-to-make and delicious recipe from Roberta Nelson.

Make this Italian-inspired superfood salad in thirty minutes flat to satisfy as a side dish or as a meal in itself. The entire dish is low in FODMAP’s and can easily be altered to satisfy other dietary needs including subbing the cheese for dairy-free or vegan options (see notes at the end of the recipe).

The hero of this salad is the pesto which is made combining sage, basil and pumpkin seeds along with a bunch of spinach to make it extra nutritious.

I really like adding the sage and spinach into my pesto as it makes the flavour that little bit more layered and complex as well as gives it a really vibrant green colour.

Spinach is one of the leafy greens that should be on high rotation in any diet. It’s rich in beta-carotene to support our immune system and vision as well as iron and folate which support or circulatory and nervous systems.

Make sure you taste your pesto and adjust the seasoning according to your preference as everyone likes their pesto a bit different.

The salad itself is made up of healthy, whole ingredients which take little to no effort to prepare and put together.

Quinoa is a great option for people on a low FODMAP diet as it’s gluten-free and a complete protein. It’s also packed full of fibre which is really beneficial for the health of your digestive system.

The additional vegetables including cherry tomatoes, zucchini and spinach add flavour and nutrients to make this salad remind of your favourite Italian flavour combination and give you the nourishment you need at the same time.

low FODMAP, wheat-free, gluten-free
vegan option

Serves 4 as a main and more as a side dish


Pumpkin seed pesto

  • ½cup fresh sage leaves
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • ½cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted on a fry pan
  • ¼cup parmesan cheese
  • ¼cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced + save zest for the salad
  • 1 tsp chilli, fresh or dried flakes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Quinoa caprese salad

  • 1 ½ cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • A handful of spinach baby spinach
  • 2 zucchinis, ribboned
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 12 baby bocconcini balls, whole or roughly torn
  • 1 small chilli, thinly sliced
  • A couple of roughly torn fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to make

  • Start by cooking the quinoa according to the directions on the packet. Use a FODMAP-friendly vegetable stock as opposed to water to get the most flavour through the salad. It usually takes about 15 minutes and it’s best to leave it with the lid on once it’s cooked to let it steam and fluff up
  • While the quinoa is cooking, prepare the pesto by blitzing all the ingredients together in a food processor or blender. It should come together as quite a thick pesto but if you want it thinner, add more olive oil or a touch of water. Taste your pesto and adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Once done, set aside
  • In a frypan over medium heat, lightly fry the ribbons of zucchini so they are slightly golden and soft. Once done, transfer them to a plate, sprinkle with salt and allow to cool
  • Once your quinoa is cooked, strain any excess liquid off then place it into the same fry pan and turn the stove on to medium heat. Add the butter or oil to the pan and as it melts, stir the quinoa around the make sure everything is coated. Let the grain toast for 2 minutes or so, then add the pesto to the pan and continue stirring until everything is coated in it. Just before you’re done, add the handful of baby spinach to the quinoa and mix it through for around 30 seconds until the spinach is just starting to wilt. Turn the heat off on the stove and get ready to assemble the salad
  • To the frypan, add the cooked zucchini ribbons, most of the cherry tomato halves, most of the baby bocconcini balls and most of the sliced chilli and toss everything together. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Then transfer the entire salad to a serving dish or salad bowl, top with the remainder of the tomatoes, cheese and chilli as well as the roughly torn basil leaves and lemon zest left over from making the pesto. Store your salad in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days

Roberta’s tips

  • Substitutions - parmesan cheese can be swapped for nutritional yeast. Bocconcini can be swapped for feta or other preferred low-dairy cheese. Alternatively, a vegan option can be used such as tofu or vegan cheese that is FODMAP-friendly
Roberta of Naturo Medico is a Naturopathic Practitioner who specialises in preventative care and women’s health. From her Melbourne-based clinic, Roberta sees women of all ages wanting to meet their own health goals and assists them on their path with personalised treatments specific to their needs.

Alongside practice, Roberta shares healthful and nutrient-rich recipes with her readers who inspire her to continue educating on what health and wellbeing means and how it can be achieved.

Follow @naturomedico on Instagram for more healthy eating inspiration!