I would love it if I had time at every single meal to cook an elaborate meal from scratch, but often, especially at lunch, something so involved is simply not possible. Though we often fail to make all of our meals completely from raw ingredients, we do at least try to have on hand a few staples to spruce up any processed food we decide to make. These side dishes can truly rescue a pre-made dish, turning something quite mediocre into a fairly nutritious, healthy and more flavorful meal.
For those occasions when we need to prepare something fast, we keep a stock of quick meal items in our freezer and pantry. These are usually items we have bought from the discount natural foods store right down the street, like frozen veggie burgers, pre-mixed pilaf and risotto packs, canned soups, and other easy foods that require little preparation.
Several weeks ago, I wanted a quick lunch because I had a lot of work to finish in the afternoon. Out of the many different brands of pre-made veggie burgers that I have tried, the spicy black bean burger that they make is definitely my favorite. And my husband had just made fresh sourdough bread the day before which would be perfect to serve a burger on.
What to serve with it, however? On the table was a freshly picked heirloom tomato for our garden. Perfect. I would save one slice to have on my burger and turn the rest into a tomato salad.
This simple tomato salad with fresh basil leaves, fresh grated parmesan or Romano cheese, and balsamic vinegar is extremely fast, healthy, and easy but also very flavorful and complementary to many main dishes. The sweet rich flavor of fresh tomatoes mixed with the zing of the vinegar and basil and the saltiness of the cheese make a perfect balance. I have made this tomato salad numerous times for a quick fix to a meal that needs sprucing up.
Be sure to use fresh heirloom tomatoes, for their flavor is the star of this dish. This was made several weeks ago, and we have now come to the end of the season where we live, so in some places you may need to save this recipe for next season.
Tomato Basil Salad with Basil and Parmesan Cheese Recipe
- one large fresh heirloom tomato
- a small handful of fresh basil leaves
- a block of fresh parmesan or Romano cheese, ready to be grated
- balsamic vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Wash the tomato and basil leaves. Slice the tomato in half-inch thick rounds and spread them across a plate. Grate Parmesan or Romano cheese (from a fresh block) over the tomatoes. Spread the basil leaves over top. Sprinkle with good quality balsamic vinegar and, if desired, quality extra virgin olive oil. Enjoy!