Pesto Fried Rice with Vegetables

Pesto Fried Rice with Tomatoes, olives, spinach and pine nuts in large sauté pan on marble background

5 from 3 reviews

This Pesto Fried Rice is loaded with colorful summer veggies and coated in a herby basil pesto. A tasty, fuss-free dish that’s ready in less than 30 mins! Vegan & Gluten-Free.


  • 1 tablespoon high-heat cooking oil, divided
  • 4 cups (500 g) cooked day-old white or brown rice*
  • 1/2 cup (115 g) Vegan Nut-Free Pesto, divided; or use store-bought
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces (280 g) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1012 kalamata olives, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 small zucchini, quartered and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup (145 g) thawed frozen peas
  • 2 ounces (55 g) baby spinach
  • Optional Toppings: pine nuts, fresh basil, and/or red chili flakes


  1. Toast the Rice: Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large sauté pan over high heat. Cook for 8 to 9 minutes, stirring only every 2 to 3 minutes to make sure the rice gets nicely browned and toasty. Season with a pinch of salt, then remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Cook the Veggies: Reduce the heat to medium-high, then warm the remaining teaspoon of oil in the pan. Add 2 tablespoons of pesto along with the garlic and sauté for 45 to 60 seconds, until the pesto turns bright green. Then, add the cherry tomatoes and sauté for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the zucchini, olives, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, then sauté for an additional 5 to 6 minutes, until most of the extra liquid cooks off.
  3. Add the Rice: return the rice to the pan, along with the peas and pesto. Stir well, then reduce the heat to low. Fold in the spinach and cook until the spinach has wilted and the rice is warm. Season with additional salt, if necessary.
  4. Serve: Transfer the rice to serving plates and top with fresh basil, pine nuts, and/or red chili flakes. Serve warm; leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.


  • Rice: I chose to use short-grain brown rice for this recipe, but long grain brown rice, white rice, or even quinoa will work as well! It’s best to cook the grains the night before and leave them in the fridge overnight; this helps them to dry out some, and results in a crispier end product.
  • Oil-Free: omit toasting the rice (the end product will be less crispy) and make this Avocado Pesto (or the Kale Pesto from my cookbook!) instead.
  • Veggies: feel free to add in (or take away) the veggies listed, based on what you have in your kitchen!

Keywords: pesto fried rice, pesto recipes, pesto rice recipes, vegan pesto recipes