With quinoa playing the starring role, nutrients abound in this full-flavored side dish. A great addition to any dinner, this dish goes especially well with a crisp salad. To make ahead, prepare as directed, except do not sprinkle with sunflower seeds. Cover and chill for up to 6 hours. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds before serving.
In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups water to boiling. In a small bowl, combine cold water and ice cubes to make an ice bath. Add the basil to the boiling water; stir once and drain immediately. Place basil in the ice bath to cool quickly. Gently squeeze out any excess water.
Place basil in a food processor. Add Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic. Cover and process until nearly smooth.
In a medium bowl, stir together cooked quinoa, bell pepper, and green onions. Add basil mixture; stir to coat. Season to taste with kosher salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds.
*Look for quinoa at a health food store or in the grains section of a large supermarket. To make 2 cups cooked quinoa, in a fine strainer rinse 2/3 cup quinoa under cold running water; drain. In a small saucepan, combine 1 1/3 cups water, the quinoa, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Let stand to cool slightly. Drain off any remaining liquid.