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baking prep

hey pesto! quick quinoa and egg bowls

When I was little, there were two small cookbooks my mom always kept on the recipe stand. I would flip through them each time I perched on the counter (somehow the best seat in the room) and wonder why they weren't more interesting since they were roughly the same size as my picture books. I'm not sure why I expected that to change each time I picked them up, but such was the way of things. I remember the title of one was "Too Busy to Cook?" and my childhood self always found that a strange and hilarious thing. It was a cookbook that stopped you at the cover - because if you were too busy to cook, surely you wouldn't be opening a book that, well, tried to give you more things to cook. Right?

I get it now, though. Childhood Whitney laughed at it, but adult Whitney is all about those easy meals. That is something I always appreciated - no matter how busy my mom felt, we almost always had a meal made from scratch for dinner. Well, excepting the frozen vegetables, but it was the 90's so I can't really blame her there. Except for that one medley with the lima beans. Oh lord.

As much as I love this tradition of from-scratch dinners, making a complicated meal on regular weeknights is just not my jam. It turns out that despite my childhood mockery, I've ended up cultivating my own arsenal of "too busy to cook" recipes. I love having these staples I can come back to time and time again, easy and delicious meals I can whip up in less than half an hour and feel good about serving. This quinoa bowl is one of my favorites. It's delicious, healthy, vegetarian, and has so far always been a crowd pleaser. It requires very little hands-on work and can be ready in about 20 minutes. Pretty much you toss the quinoa in a pot, stir in the greenery, fry an egg, and hey presto! Dinner. My favorite tweak I added over the last year is to include chopped walnuts. Having that additional texture and deep nuttiness is really what I think makes the dish.

You can make the quinoa with water in a pinch, but I definitely recommend using stock if you can. If you don't have any on hand, you can also toss a bouillon cube into the mix as an alternate route. I lean towards cooking my eggs over-easy to over-medium for this dish. I love having a runny yolk that mixes in with the quinoa and pesto. The more ingredients I can fit all in one bite the better!

Do you have a favorite quick dinner? Let me know in the comments!


hey pesto! quick quinoa and egg bowls

yield: 2 servings


⅔ cup dry quinoa

1⅓ cup vegetable (or chicken) stock

2-3 TB pesto

¼ cup chopped cilantro

salt & pepper to taste

a handful of chopped walnuts

grated fresh parmesan

2 eggs


  1. Add the quinoa and chicken stock to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as it boils, reduce to medium-low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.

  2. While the quinoa is cooking, chop the cilantro and grate the parmesan.

  3. Once the quinoa has finished cooking, stir in the pesto, walnuts, and most of the cilantro - just retaining a few large pinches for garnish. Let the quinoa rest while you prepare the eggs.

  4. Fry two eggs to your desired doneness.

  5. Divide the quinoa between two pasta bowls. Top with a fried egg, cracked pepper, the remaining cilantro, and the grated parmesan.

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Pick varieties and flavors that bring you joy. Not everyone is a baker and not everyone likes to cook. 


Enjoy the process. One of my favorite things while baking is to knead the dough and feel how it changes in my hands. I love chopping vegetables that came fresh from the farmer's market, brushing the dirt off the leaves, and creating with something that came from the earth.


Listen to jazz. I know this is a personal preference, but there are few things that give me quite the feeling of contentment as cooking a good meal with a glass of wine and a Thelonius record on in the background.

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