Quinoa and pesto balls recipe

I previously posted two similar quinoa recipes together, but in the interest of easy blog navigation I am seperating them out. You can read more about my usage of quinoa in this post which also contains another scrummy quinoa recipe.

This is a super simple recipe that I made as a bit of a mishmash at 10pm using up some leftover bits and pieces. These were an adaptation of my quinoa and cannellini bean recipe. I used pesto, as I had just made some fresh, plus some mashed potato to help them bulk out. I used homemade kale and walnut pesto but you could use any type you have – homemade or shop bought. I wanted to try and experiment with different ways to use quinoa as a base for cakes/burgers/balls etc and this ended up being pretty simple. I served them at a work lunch picnic and they went down a treat! A great alternative to something like falafel.

Instead of separate sesame seeds and thyme you could substitute these both for 2 tbsp of za’atar instead: a middle eastern herb mix that is brilliant in salads or as an accompaniment to bread dipped in the olive oil. In London, I get it from Persepolis in Peckham, but do intend to try make my own one day soon! Their website also has lots of brilliant recipes – as does owner Sally Butcher’s brilliant Veggiestan cookbook which has pride of place on my kitchen shelf!

Quinoa and kale pesto balls

  • Servings: 4
  • Print


  • ½ cup of quinoa, cooked
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
  • 1 tbsp homemade kale pesto (can be substituted, see below)
  • 3-4 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Mix all the ingredients, bar the flour, together in a large bowl. Stir until the pesto, basil, thyme and sesame seeds are evenly spread throughout the mixture. Add the flour half a tablespoon at a time so the mixture can be formed in your hands without sticking. Add more flour if the mixture is still too sticky. Add seasoning to taste.

Shape the mixture in to small balls so they look a bit like falafel. Roll them in some flour then place them on an oiled baking tray. Cook for 25-30 minutes, turning 2-3 times. They will not retain their full ball shape, which is fine. Just ensure that they are turned regularly or the will not cook all over. Add more oil if they have begun to stick when you turn them. Et voila, great for picnics, snacks or sides!

Quinoa and pesto balls
Quinoa and pesto balls


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