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Recipe for vegan brown rice salad with asparagus, avocado, pecans, and pesto dressing {vegan, gluten-free}

Vegan brown rice salad with asparagus, avocado, pecans, and pesto dressing.

Have you had your fill of asparagus yet? Neither have I. However, I am a little bit over asparagus soup, asparagus frittata, and asparagus stir-fry, which is why this vegan brown rice salad with asparagus, avocado, pecans and basil pesto is such a welcome addition to the Spring repertoire. If you have pesto in your freezer from last summer -- any kind of pesto will do -- please use it here. I've tried kale pesto I froze last September, and red pepper pesto (which, I admit, improved the color of the finished dish), made from a jar of roasted peppers. And if you don't have your own pesto and don't want to make it from scratch, take some help from the grocery store and buy a good-quality pesto to make the dressing for this salad. There's no mayonnaise to spoil in the heat, which makes this salad perfect for picnics and summer potlucks.

Brown rice salad with asparagus and avocado, oh so good for picnics.

Vegan brown rice salad with asparagus, avocado, pecans and pesto dressing

From the pantry, you'll need: brown rice, pecans, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, pine nuts.

Serves 4.


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


To 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.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Red rice salad with roasted beets, sun-dried tomatoes, cherries and nuts
Wild rice salad
Mushroom and asparagus paella
Broccoli tofu stir-fry with brown rice
Risotto with shrimp and asparagus

Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Fried brown rice with asparagus, bell pepper and cashews, from The Kitchn
Asparagus and mushroom quiche with a brown rice crust, from FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Asparagus and chickpeas, with brown rice and tahini, from Houseboat Eats
Brown rice Greek salad, from The Lemon Bowl
Bok choy brown rice salad with orange sesame dressing, from Annie's Eats

Need more ideas for how to create salads with pizzazz? Get Dress Up Your Salad, my e-book packed with easy mix-and-match recipes, full-color photos and a few fun videos. Exciting salad recipes from everyday ingredients can be just one click away, on any computer, tablet or smart phone, with the FREE Kindle Reading app. Click here to learn more.

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


NOW THIS is my kind of salad!! yum!

Carol, I know you'll love this one!

This salad looks so yummy! I'm not yet sick of asparagus, but I don't need to be to want to try this salad--it's that fresh looking to me.

Kirsten, when asparagus season passes, try this with zucchini. I love rice salads with all sorts of veggies.

Great recipe. Makes enought dressing for at least 3 times. Don't even really need to cook the asparagus or walnuts.

This salad looks amazing, Lydia! Glad the post notification was still in my In Box. :-)


We are just getting into asparagus season here and I actually promised to myself to cook with it more than I usually do. It would be a shame not to, seeing that it is locally grown. This is a wonderful, tasty salad!

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