This dump and bake casserole features quinoa, pesto, and two varieties of tomatoes! It requires just a few minutes of prep and is an easy way to bring light and bright spring flavors to weeknight meals or meal prep.
If you're a fan of pesto or my quinoa black bean dump & bake recipe, then you're going to love this quinoa pesto dump & bake! Like any good no boil/dump and go meal, this recipe requires minimal prep.
The main flavor in this recipe is pesto, which is paired with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes, and fresh spinach for a colorful and nutritious meal. Add in chickpeas for protein and a sprinkling of mozzarella for a main-dish worthy recipe.
- Minimal prep: You can use homemade pesto or store bought pesto to make this recipe. The only hands-on time for this recipe is slicing the tomatoes in half and heating the vegetable broth. Then all you do is dump ingredients into a casserole dish and throw it in the oven!
- Spring flavors: This is the perfect dump & bake recipe to bridge the gap between winter and spring. It features light flavors from herby pesto, bright lemon zest, and acidic tomatoes.
- Versatile: The only ingredients you absolutely need to use in this recipe are quinoa, pesto, and broth. The remaining ingredients are easy to swap out using ingredients you have on hand.
- Quinoa: Any variety of quinoa works. I have not tested this recipe with rice, however, I do think an equal amount of long-grain white rice should work based on experience with my cheesy broccoli rice casserole.
- Vegetable broth: I use vegetable bouillon mixed with boiling water. It's just much more flavorful than most storebought broths and it's more budget-friendly.
- Pesto: I tested this recipe with both homemade pesto and store-bought pesto. Both work and yield similar results, barring a slight difference in flavor due to different ingredients in different pesto brands.
- Chickpeas: Use a can of chickpeas or chickpeas cooked from dry. One can is roughly 1 and ½ cups of chickpeas.
- Sun-dried tomatoes add extra texture and rich, umami flavor. Choose sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil (as opposed to dried sun-dried tomatoes) for the best flavor. Save leftover oil for vinaigrettes.
- Shredded mozzarella: You can also use sliced fresh mozzarella like with my gnocchi dump & bake. I tested this recipe with crumbled feta and also liked the salty flavor feta adds.
For a vegan option, use your favorite vegan feta or vegan mozzarella to top the quinoa pesto bake. Most pesto contains Parmesan, so choose a storebought or homemade dairy-free pesto.
Step by step instructions
Testing and equipment note: I tested this recipe in an 8x8 metal baking dish, 8x8 ceramic baking dish, and a 6x10 ceramic baking dish. Metal baking dishes cook more quickly than ceramic, but all sizes and styles worked.
The beauty of a dump-and-bake casserole is that it doesn't have many steps at all.
Start by lighting oil the casserole dish. I like to use oil from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes to do this.
Add the quinoa, pesto, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, seasonings, and heated vegetable broth. Stir to combine.
Cover tightly with foil or a lid. Bake at 375F on the middle oven rack for 30 minutes, or until the quinoa is mostly cooked through.
The bake may appear a little liquidy at this point, but that's okay. Stir in the torn spinach so that it is mostly covered. It will continue to wilt as it bakes.
Top with shredded mozzarella and return to the oven. Bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the casserole is firmed up and the cheese is completely melted.
Let rest 5 minutes before slicing. Serve garnished with lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper.
Tips for success
- Baking dish: Cook times vary based on the type of baking dish. For example, metal baking dishes heat up more quickly than ceramic, so you may find that the quinoa cooks more quickly in a metal dish.
- Liquid temperatures: I highly recommend heating the vegetable broth to boiling before adding it to the baking dish. You can do this on the stovetop or you can use an electric kettle (my preference). I use vegetable bouillon, so it's easy to heat up the water in a kettle and then mix it with bouillon before adding it to the remaining ingredients.
- Cover the baking dish: In order for the quinoa to bake, the baking dish must be tightly covered during the initial baking phase. I recommend foil or a tightly fitting lid, but an upside-down sheet pan does work as well.
- Remove the foil or lid when the quinoa appears mostly cooked through. After the lid is removed, the excess liquid starts to evaporate and the quinoa becomes fully cooked.
Leftovers are best within 3-4 days. Let the casserole dish cool to room temperature. Cover with foil or a lid and refrigerate, or transfer the quinoa bake to a reusable container.
Reheating: I usually just reheat individual servings of this dish in the microwave. Reheat the entire casserole in the oven at 325 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, or until warmed through. Cover with foil if the casserole starts to dry out or the cheese starts to brown too much.
Freezing: I have not tried freezing this exact casserole, but other similar dishes freeze well. Here is how: Cover the casserole in plastic wrap and foil or plastic wrap and a lid before freezing. If reheating in the oven, add an extra 10-15 minutes of cook time. The casserole can also thaw overnight in the fridge.
More dump and bake casseroles
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Vegetarian Quinoa Pesto Bake (Dump & Bake Recipe)
- 1 and ¾ cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup quinoa rinsed thoroughly
- 15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 8 and ½ ounces sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil drained and roughly chopped
- 8 ounces cherry tomatoes sliced in half
- 6 ounces pesto store bought or homemade
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for topping
- 3 cups spinach leaves leaves torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 small lemon sliced into wedges for serving
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest about 1 small lemon
- Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly oil an 8x8 or similarly sized casserole dish (I like to use some of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes to do this). In a small sauce pot, heat vegetable broth to a rapid simmer over medium high heat.
- To the casserole dish, add the quinoa, chickpeas, sun-dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, pesto, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and heated vegetable broth. Stir to combine.
- Cover the dish tightly with foil, a lid, or an upside-down baking sheet. Bake at 375F on the middle oven rack for 30 minutes, or until the quinoa is mostly cooked through. The casserole may be a little liquidy at this point, that's okay.
- Stir in the spinach leaves. Top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven to bake uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and golden and the quinoa is completely cooked.
- Let cool 5 minutes before scooping and serving. Serve with lemon wedges, lemon zest, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Enjoy!
- Sun-dried tomatoes: While the oil the sun-dried tomatoes are jarred in isn't used in this recipe, I like to save it as a base for vinaigrettes.
- Pesto: In the summer I stick to homemade pesto, otherwise I usually use Barilla pesto (it has a good flavor for its price).
- Leftovers are best within 3-4 days. Cover tightly and refrigerate. Reheat individual servings in the microwave. Reheat the entire casserole in the oven at 325 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, or until warmed through. Cover with foil if the casserole starts to dry out or the cheese starts to brown too much.
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OMG, this was delicious! So flavorful and beyond easy to make. I loved it! Baked it in a 9x13. Thank you!
Thanks so much for the review! 🙂
Excellent!!! Quinoa Pesto Bake — so delicious . Just wanted to know on nutritional facts are those based on per serving ?
I'm glad you liked it! Yes, they are based per serving and there are 6 servings. They are just an estimation and will vary based on specific brands used.