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Blackened Shrimp & Pesto Quinoa Bowl

Join us as we make Cajun-inspired grain bowls. This dish is gluten-free, dairy-free, high-protein, and delicious. We’ll chat about the blackening technique, which delivers huge flavor in just a couple of minutes, and talk about why it’s one of our favorite cooking methods.


Blackened Shrimp Pesto Quinoa Bowl

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes


1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
2 cups quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1⁄2 cucumber, diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
1/4 cup dairy-free pesto sauce (store bought or see recipe below!)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, torn for garnish



1. Seasoning the Shrimp:
Toss the shrimp with blackening seasoning in a bowl until evenly coated.
2. Cooking the Shrimp:
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and cook the shrimp for 2-3 minutes per
side until opaque and blackened. Then, set aside.
3. Preparing the Quinoa Salad:
In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked quinoa, cherry tomatoes, cucumber,
red onion, Kalamata olives, and pine nuts.
Add the pesto sauce to the quinoa mixture and toss until well combined.

4. Assembling the Bowls:
Divide the quinoa mixture into bowls and top with the blackened shrimp.
Garnish with torn basil leaves and feta cheese (if using).


Dairy-Free Pesto Recipe


2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts (you can also use walnuts or almonds if preferred)
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional, for added zest and freshness)


  1. Prepare the Basil: Rinse your basil leaves thoroughly and pat them dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels. Removing as much moisture as possible helps to keep your pesto vibrant and fresh.
  2. Toast the Nuts: In a small skillet over medium heat, lightly toast the pine nuts until golden and fragrant, stirring frequently to prevent burning. This step enhances their flavor but can be skipped if you’re short on time.
  3. Blend: In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine the basil leaves, garlic, toasted nuts, nutritional yeast, and about half of the olive oil. Pulse a few times to chop and blend the ingredients. Scrape down the sides as necessary.
  4. Emulsify: With the processor running, slowly drizzle in the remaining olive oil until the mixture is well combined but still has some texture. You can adjust the amount of olive oil based on your preference for a thicker or thinner pesto.
  5. Season: Taste your pesto and season with salt and pepper. If you’re using lemon juice, add it now and blend briefly to incorporate.
  6. Adjust: If your pesto is too thick, you can thin it by adding a little more olive oil or some water, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.