Asparagus Veggie Bowl with Basil

I have good news, bad news, and a recipe for you today.  The good news is that I gained zero pounds on vacation last week.  Of course, if you read posts like this one you might have guessed that I lost weight.  However, if you checked out other posts, such as this one, you might have assumed I put on a couple.  Muahaha… calorie credits and debits at work!

The bad news is that I already failed on my Real Food June challenge.  Ummm… I think I made it one day because I started May 31.  I found this to be more comical than discouraging.  The guys left one lonely portion of meatloaf last night, so I ate it.  Since it was my mommy’s recipe (ultimate comfort food), was made with lean beef, included fresh basil and real Wisconsin white cheddar, I’m pleased with my decision.  The only downfall was the overly processed and totally unnatural breadcrumbs.  Ooops!

As promised, here’s the recipe for this week’s lunch bowl.  I must admit, it isn’t quite as yummy as my last lunch bowl, but it’s very filling and vegalicious.  I might like it more if I actually enjoyed eating asparagus.  It’s not that I don’t like the stuff, but it’s one of my least favorite veggies.

At least it's pretty!

At least it's pretty!

Kevin’s an asparagus fan, so I made lunch for him too.  Hurray for 8 pre-made lunches!  He can consume loads more calories than I can (by loads, I mean approximately 1,100 per day), so I told him to bring an extra snack and top his veggie bowls with cheese.  I recommended parmesan or asiago, but he requested mozzarella.  Whatever.  For my readers, I still recommend parmesan if you feel like adding more to your lunch.


  • 6 servings of quinoa
  • 1 TBS olive oil and 3 more TBS olive oil
  • 1 medium-large onion, diced (white or red)
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 oz fresh basil (not so sure dried would work this time)
  • 2 cans cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 12-oz packages of frozen asparagus (cut into bite-size pieces)
  • 1 16-oz package of frozen spinach

*Note: 2 10-oz packages of asparagus and 2 10-oz packages of spinach would also be great, but it all depends on your grocery store’s offerings.


  • Heat 1 TBS olive oil in frying pan.  Fry/sauté onion and bell pepper in pan until soft.  Add garlic powder, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Continue cooking until super soft.  (Is “super soft” a Martha Stewart approved cooking description?)  Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions.


    So Colorful!

  • Allow onion and pepper mix to cool while you tear basil in smaller pieces.  While cooling, you can also defrost spinach and asparagus in your microwave according to package directions.
  • Place basil in food processor.  Place onion and pepper over basil.  Add the three extra TBS of oil as you process this into a sauce-like paste.  This is similar to a pesto, but it lacks the hard Italian cheese and pine nuts.  (Pine nuts don’t fit into my calorie or money budget.)


    A Work in Process

  • When quinoa is finished cooking, add the “sauce” from the food processor.  It won’t cover much, but the onion and basil contribute strong flavor.  Gently stir in the beans, asparagus, and spinach.
  • Stir, divide, and re-heat before serving.  Kevin added cheese daily before microwaving it.

    The Great Divide

    The Great Divide

I’d like to add a note about the red bell pepper.  Quinoa and spinach are great sources of iron, but the body absorbs iron better when it is served with a little vitamin C.  I doubt half a red bell pepper (a vitamin-C powerhouse) really added enough to matter over the course of 8 lunches, but I do what I can.  Next time, I might be inclined to omit the red bell pepper and have a little Clementine orange as a side or dessert.  The orange gives you the C, but it would also freshen your breath.  Garlic + Onion = Watch Out!

One last thing to watch out for… asparagus is a natural diuretic.  This is helping me feel less like a whale after vacation.  You may want to drink an extra glass of water every day that you have this for lunch.  Necessary?  Probably not.  Good for you anyway?  Sure.

The recipe is easily halved, but as-posted: serves 8, approx 325 calories per serving


20 Comments to “Asparagus Veggie Bowl with Basil”

  1. I love asparagus! I didn’t know it was a natural diuretic though. Looks pretty good to me 🙂

  2. Asparagus tastes amazing! I love it.

  3. I looove, love asparagus! This looks so good! 🙂

  4. I would barely count the breadcrumbs 😉 lunch bowl looks great!

  5. As usual, greatlunch bowl – my BF will love this, can’t wait to make it – anything with basil makes me happy 🙂
    I didn’t know that about asparagus, thanks for the tip!
    Haahahaaa about the challenge, totally comical and i don’t see how bread crumbs have that many ingredients?
    You totally have me craving meat loaf now 😀

  6. Wow that looks SO good! I love asparagus, and I have some quinoa in my cabinets that I’ve been meaning to make! I’m totally bookmarking this recipe!

  7. Yum! This veggie bowl looks great. I love pesto, I love quinoa and I LOVE asparagus!!

  8. LOL – I feel like vacays are always full of ups and downs in the weight department. For me I am usually just water logged one day and feeling dehydrated the next. Who knows why!?

  9. Asparagus is one of my favs. I love it fresh now that it’s in season. I julienne mine and eat it on salads!

  10. How yummy! (And beautiful)

    I don’t blame you for eating the meatloaf. Sometimes you just need the cookin’ you grew up with. 🙂

  11. Just found your blog. Love it!
    This recipe sounds delish – thank you for sharing!

    On vaca – I feel like I’m walking around so much that my weight kind of balances out. That is unless I drink 2 Blue Moons and have a basket of fries…to myself =).

    • Thanks for dropping by the site. Oh, and in my research, I have found that shared fries don’t taste as good as the ones you keep to yourself. 🙂

  12. I loooove asparagus! One of my fave veggies actually! That lunch bowl sounds fabulous and I love that its “make ahead”!

  13. Cannellini beans and asparagus, sounds wonderful. BTW breadcrumbs are super easy to make at home and last ages. You’re right about the store bought ones.

  14. This dish looks delicious! Thank you for giving us the calories of this recipe.

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