Pesto Garden Salad

It’s one of those awkward things isn’t it – when you’re invited to a barbecue and asked to bring a salad. You don’t want to take anything too unusual and risk it not going with the rest of the meal, but a bog standard green salad can be a bit boring. The solution is this incredibly simple but flavourful rocket salad that I recently created for Fairfax newspapers, loaded with ripe tomatoes, salty feta, creamy avocado and a luscious pesto dressing – problem solved. If you prefer you can easily swap the feta for chunks of torn buffalo mozzarella, and the rocket for baby spinach leaves. Too easy. Have a great weekend, hopefully if you're in the southern hemisphere, the sun will be shining and you will find this recipe handy, if you're coping with the big chill in the north, don't forget to check out all of the warming winter recipes with plenty of soups and decadent desserts on the blog. Either way, feel free to pop on over to my Facebook page and say 'hi'! :) (L'il extra note here as I grump around the house having had another three moles excised yesterday, if you are heading out into the sun, please don't fry yourself, it's no good for the current or future wrinkle situation and even worse for your melanoma risk - and on that cheery note having a bloody FAB weekend!).



 2 cups basil leaves
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
½ cup lightly toasted pine nuts
1 clove garlic
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

200g fresh rocket or spinach leaves
150g  feta or buffalo mozzarella, broken into 2cm chunks
15 small vine-ripened tomatoes, halved
2 avocados, sliced

Put 1 cup of the basil leaves, Parmesan, 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts, garlic, oil and vinegar in a small food processor and whiz to combine. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Layer rocket, feta, tomatoes, avocados and remaining basil leaves into a large salad bowl. Drizzle with pesto dressing and sprinkle with remaining pine nuts to serve. Serves 6



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