This pesto chicken quinoa bowl is my easy weeknight take on sweetgreen’s pesto chicken parm. It uses pre-cooked quinoa, rotisserie chicken and a 5-minute creamy pesto vinaigrette for a flavorful lunch or dinner that comes together in minutes.
Confession: this is a sweetgreen-inspired recipe, but I’ve never been to sweetgreen.
Ha! It’s just one of those sad realities of being Canadian. But, I am dying to try it–and in the meantime, I am constantly inspired by their innovative menu!
This pesto chicken quinoa bowl is very loosely inspired by the sweetgreen chicken pesto parm bowl. I just love the idea of creamy pesto vinaigrette and spicy hot sauce tossed with nourishing chicken, quinoa and greens. YUM.
So I decided to make my own, super easy version you can whip up at home on busy weeknights–heavy on flavor, super light on prep.
Why this recipe works
There’s so many reasons to love this easy pesto chicken quinoa bowl.
It’s fast. This recipe uses a lot of pre-cooked and convenience items so you can make a delicious, nourishing bowl at home without spending hours in the kitchen.
It’s high in fiber. This tasty bowl offers a whopping 9 grams of fiber! That’s over a third of the recommended 25 grams women should aim for each day.
It’s got whole grains. Actually, quinoa is not technically a grain! But it’s got the same kind of nutrition profile–lots of fiber, a boost of protein, and heavy on the micronutrients.
It’s perfect for meal prep. I don’t love re-heating the same soggy chicken and rice bowl 5 days a week. But I do love prepping ingredients so you can easily make bowls and salads throughout the week. I’m about ease, but I want fresh-tasting meals too.
It’s inspired by sweetgreen. From what I hear, they have their flavor combos nailed. And let me tell you–pesto vinaigrette + hot sauce + chicken + veg = tasty perfection.
- Air fried or roasted broccoli: You can make this in advance, or whip it up before serving. Steamed works too if you’re short on time. You’ll need some oil and seasonings to get this ready.
- Baby spinach: leafy greens pair perfectly with the creamy pesto vinaigrette from this recipe. And they’re loaded with nutrition too! You could use other greens or lettuce if you prefer.
- Cooked quinoa: cook this in advance according to package directions, or use a microwave pack or frozen cooked quinoa. Sub for cooked rice, orzo or pasta if you’d like!
- Rotisserie chicken: save yourself the major hassle and use pre-cooked rotisserie chicken or meal prepped chicken breast. For a leaner option, leave the skin off.
- Creamy pesto vinaigrette: this pesto salad dressing is out-of-this-world delicious. You can use plain store bought pesto too, but if you have an extra 5-minutes, try this.
- Buffalo sauce: or regular hot sauce, if you’d prefer. This is optional, but it’s truly so delicious with the creamy and slightly sweet vinaigrette.
How to make this pesto chicken quinoa bowl
Step 1: Air fry broccoli.
Preheat air fryer to 375 ° F for 2 minutes. Toss broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper, and transfer to the air fryer basket. Cook in the air fryer at 375 ° F for 6-8 minutes, or until browned and slightly crisp. If you’re cooking more than 1 serving, you may need additional time.
Step 2: Prepare ingredients.
If needed, cook quinoa, chop chicken, and prepare your basil pesto vinaigrette. I recommend prepping these in advance so they’re ready for assembly on busy weeknights.
Step 3: Assemble your bowl.
Right before serving, add spinach, cooked quinoa, cooked broccoli and rotisserie chicken to your serving bowl. Drizzle with creamy pesto vinaigrette (or plain pesto) and buffalo sauce.
Toss until all ingredients are well coated. Add additional salad dressing or buffalo sauce as desired and enjoy immediately!
How do I cook quinoa?
Different brands can give slightly different instructions, so I’d recommend following the package directions. For extra flavor, cook quinoa in chicken broth or vegetable broth.
Microwave quinoa packs or frozen pre-cooked quinoa work great too!
What if I don’t have an air fryer?
If you don’t have an air fryer, you can roast broccoli in the oven for about 15-20 minutes at 400 ° F. Or try this recipe for oven roasted broccoli.
How to make this bowl vegetarian
You can easily make this bowl vegetarian by swapping chicken for lentils, canned white beans or cubed tofu.
Add these extra toppings to your pesto chicken quinoa bowl:
- Sliced cherry tomatoes
- Toasted breadcrumbs
- Squeeze of lemon
- Crumbled feta
- Green onion
- Fresh herbs
- Fresh parmesan
- Pickled red onion
More recipes you’ll love
- Creamy pesto vinaigrette
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- Nacho salad recipe
- Air fryer frittata
- The best chicken salad
Air fried broccoli
- 1 heaping cup small broccoli florets
- 1 tsp olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup air fried broccoli see above
- 1 cup baby spinach or baby lettuce mix
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup skinless rotisserie chicken roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp creamy pesto vinaigrette or store bought pesto
- 1 tbsp buffalo sauce
Air fry broccoli
- Preheat air fryer to 375 ° F for 2 minutes. Toss broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper, and transfer to the air fryer basket. Cook in the air fryer at 375 ° F for 6-8 minutes, or until browned and slightly crisp.*
- If needed, cook quinoa, chop chicken, and prepare your basil pesto vinaigrette. I recommend prepping these in advance so they’re ready for assembly on busy weeknights
- Right before serving, add spinach, cooked quinoa, cooked broccoli and rotisserie chicken to your serving bowl. Drizzle with creamy pesto vinaigrette (or pesto) and buffalo sauce, if you enjoy spice.
- Toss until all ingredients are well coated. Add additional salad dressing or buffalo sauce as desired and enjoy immediately!
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