Preparation Time 15 minutes, plus 3 hours chilling
Tomatoes and basil are one of the most classic food marriages and it’s hard to go wrong when you put these two together. I use a variety of large heirloom tomatoes and cherry tomatoes to get a good mix of shape and colour, but the key is to make sure they’re perfectly ripe and at room temperature. The quick-pickled onions used here are a great fridge staple – you can use them in 3 hours, but they will last a couple of weeks. I also use them on burgers, alongside a barbecued steak, tucked into a sandwich or even through my killer potato salad (see page 164).
- 1 large handful basil leaves, plus extra
- ½ small garlic clove
- 80 ml (2½ fl oz/⅓ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon, or to taste
- 4 large heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced or cut into wedges
- 200 g (7 oz) mixed cherry tomatoes, halved or thickly sliced
- 1 small red onion, sliced into 3 mm (⅛ inch) thick rounds
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
- 1 small red chilli, split in half
- 185 ml (6 fl oz/¾ cup) white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon coarsely cracked
- black peppercorns
To make the quick-pickled onion, separate the onion slices into rings, place in a sieve over the sink and slowly pour over hot water from a just-boiled kettle to blanch. Drain well, then place in a sterilised glass jar along with the garlic and chilli. Stir the vinegar, sugar, salt and peppercorns in a jug to dissolve, pour over the onions to cover completely, then seal and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to 2 weeks.
Combine the basil, garlic and a good pinch of sea salt in a mortar and pestle and pound to a rough paste. Add the olive oil and lemon juice to taste, pound to combine, then season to taste.
Arrange the tomatoes on a platter and scatter with some extra basil leaves. Drain some of the quick-pickled onion and scatter over the tomatoes, then drizzle with the basil dressing.
Recipe and images from Australian Food Coast + Country by Matt Moran, published by Murdoch Books