Tomato and Basil Salad with Grilled Cheese Croutons

After a seasonal slow start to the tomato season this past Summer (poor setting of flowers all over Adelaide), as I write this in late, late Summer, they are ripening in abundance. How special that is – teeny little cherry tomatoes and little egg shaped ones, juiced, cooked, made into salads. Yum.

This salad, another from Bittman as I journey through his 101 salads, is a wonder – a toasted sandwich made into croutons, then mixed with the classic tomato and basil salad. How good is that! Combining 3 loves – basil, tomatoes and cheese toasties. I have added some green tomatoes to the salad, as I love their tang and use them whenever I can.

Are you looking for Tomato Salad inspiration? Try My Mother’s Tomato and Cucumber Salad, Tomato Salad with Marjoram, and Tomato and Peach Salad.

Or are you looking for general Tomato recipes? Try Santorini Style Tomato Patties, Baked Tomato Pasta Sauce, and a Light Summery Tomato and Potato Soup (from India).

Have a look at our Toastie Sandwiches. All of our Tomato Salad Recipes are here, and the complete compendium of Tomato dishes are here. Would you like to browse all of our Salads?  Or spend some time to explore our Late Summer dishes.

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Roasted Aubergine with a Garlic Sauce, Pine Nuts, Basil and Yoghurt

I have the Ottolenghi book Nopi, and have been determined to make something out of it if just to prove that a cookbook from a restaurant is not necessarily out of reach of someone who loves simple home cooking. While the recipes are a notch up from Ottolenghi’s other books, I enjoyed making this dish.

This really is a stunning dish. I mean, really very very good.

NOTE that this baked eggplant is so delicious, and could be used in a variety of ways. Bake the eggplant and top salads, use with pasta, remove the flesh and mix with yoghurt. Even in this recipe it won’t hold its shape once you begin to handle them, but don’t worry if they are a little mushier than expected. All the better to mop up with flatbreads.

If you would like other Eggplant recipes, try Cheese and Eggplant Torte, Marinated Eggplant, Eggplant Steaks, and Steamed Eggplant with Spring Onions and Sesame.

Ottolenghi recipes include Creamy Baked Sweet Potato, Creamy Caramelised Belgium Endive, and Sticky Balsamic Sweet Potatoes.

Or you might like to explore all Eggplant Recipes, and all of Ottolenghi recipes are here. Are you wanting Yoghurt recipes? Try here. Or simply browse all of our Late Summer recipes here.

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Hand Made Pesto | Zeffirino Pesto

Hand made, home made pesto is the most exquisite of creations. Do try it.

I first made it long ago, when I took a cooking class with Bill Grainger of the famous Bills Restaurants in Sydney, and author of many Sydney-style cookbooks. He made pesto by hand in the class. At home, Bill didn’t keep a lot of gadgets in his kitchen and didn’t have a blender!! So at home he always made it by hand. A man after my own heart – Meditation in the kitchen through manual grinding. There is something about pesto that you make yourself, especially if you grow your own basil.

This recipe is enough to make you reach for the basil plant, and bring the mortar and pestle out of the cupboard. You can smell the basil even while reading the recipe…. and taste the pasta.

You should check out our home made eggless pasta too.

Are you looking for pasta sauces? Try Pasta with a Cauliflower Sauce, Baked Tomato Pasta Sauce, and Pasta Sauce with Aubergine, Red Peppers and Tomato. Use Broad Bean and Mint Puree as a pasta sauce too, by thinning it until a suitable consistency is reached.

You might also like our Pesto recipes here and here. All of our Pasta Sauce recipes are here. Or you might like to browse our Italian recipes here and here. Alternatively, take some time to check out our easy Mid Summer recipes.

Feel free to browse other recipes from our Retro Recipes series – vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006.

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Strawberry and Peach Lassi with Basil

You know what? In hot weather I love a lassi, particularly a fruit lassi, for breakfast. Indian in origin, fruit lassi drinks mix yoghurt with fruit, spices and jaggery or sugar.

Today, there were peaches on the kitchen bench, strawberries in the fridge and basil in the garden. A beautiful breakfast was born in the shape of a lassi.

Why not also try our Mango Lassi and our Black Grape Lassi?

We have a range of sweet, fruit and salt lassi recipes for you to browse. You can explore all of our Yoghurt recipes here and here. The Drinks recipes are here and here. Or be inspired by our Early Summer recipes.

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Ginger and Tulsi Tea | Tulasyadi Phanta | For when you need to rest

Phanta Tea is a beautiful, relaxing tea. Just what you need!

Tulsi tea with ginger is very good for you, especially in early spring. Ayurvedically, it is good for sinusitis, flu, hayfever, bronchitis, asthma and some fevers. (Consult your Ayurvedic practictioner.) Phanta is a hot infusion in Ayurveda.

It is gentle and calming, reducing Vata and Kapha, but raising Pitta. Drink it at a time that you can relax and take some bed rest. It is best to avoid cold for a couple of hours after drinking.

Tulsi is the Holy Basil of India, with a taste somewhere between mint and basil. You can often buy Tulsi tea in organic and health shops. If I can’t find Tulsi, I make this tea with ordinary basil and it still works wonders.

You can read more about the extraordinary healthy properties of Tulasi here.  Tulasi can also be spelt as Tulsi or Thulasi, or called Holy Basil. Don’t get it confused with Thai or Sth East Asian Holy Basil, it is an Indian Holy Basil and quite different to the Thai herb. You can see our Tulsi recipes here.

Similar teas include Spring Chai, Dr. Kilkani’s Ayurvedic Chai, Longan and Ginger Tea, Ginger Root and Turmeric Tea, Rosebud and Borage Flower Tea, and Cumin, Coriander and Ginger Tea.

Our Tulasi recipes are here, and our Ayurveda recipes here. You might like to browse our other Teas as well. Or explore our Mid Spring recipes.

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Asparagus Pesto

A beautiful pesto from a gentle ingredient.

Isn’t it great that there are lots of ways to mush things together and the results taste spectacular? Soups, for example, smoothies, combination juices. The wonderful pesto and hummus. The wonderful mushing together of pastes, oils, nuts, seeds, cheeses, yoghurts, creams, fruits, herbs, spices and vegetables make for an endless variety of goodies. Even lentils and rice, ground together, make amazing fritters and even better fermented or unfermented flatbreads.

Especially great in all things mushed together is that the variety is endless. For example, in the warmer months, I am likely to be seen picking green things from my small pot-garden. Nasturtium leaves, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cardamom leaf, parsley, curry leaves, basil, lemon  verbena, rosemary, thyme – whatever looks good on that day. My handful of herbs gets chopped finely with some nuts or seeds, maybe some cheese or maybe not, garlic, maybe chilli, sometimes some rocket or spinach, lemon zest and whatever else is fresh and on my kitchen bench at the time.

Asparagus can also be used. Steamed and chopped, it makes a very rustic Asparagus Pesto. Glorious. Gentle.

You might also like to read The Joy of Asparagus, Spring Salads, and Cream of Asparagus Soup. All Asparagus recipes are here and here, and our Dips are here and here. Be inspired by our Spring recipes here and here.

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