For the pesto dressing:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup fresh pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 avocado, diced
1 ripe tomato, cored and diced
1 cup of 1-inch asparagus pieces (6-10 spears, depending on size)
1/4 cup pecans
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
DirectionsTo make the pesto dressing: Place basil, nuts, garlic, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until chopped. With the machine running, add olive oil in a stream. Thin the dressing with 2 Tbsp water, and set aside. (Can be made up to 3 days in advance.)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked brown rice, avocado and tomato.
Place the diced asparagus in a glass measuring cup with 1 Tablespoon of water. Cover with plastic wrap, and microwave on HIGH for 1 minute. The asparagus will be barely cooked, which is perfect. Drain off any liquid, and add the asparagus to the rice mixture.
In a small dry nonstick frying pan, toast the pecans over low heat for 2-4 minutes, until the nuts are just starting to brown and become fragrant. Remove from heat, and add to the rice mixture.
Toss the rice with just enough of the pesto dressing to moisten all of the ingredients without drowning them (you will have leftover dressing; refrigerate and use for another dish). Taste, and add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve at room temperature.