Lately, on a fortnightly basis, I throw meal planning to the wind with reckless abandon and simply buy up enough seasonal fruit and vegetables to get me through the week. Then, on a daily basis I think of a way of combining the fresh fruit and vegetables with something from the freezer or pantry to make a meal.

I’m finding this a really effective way to manage both the food budget and my cooking mojo. Meal planning week gives me the opportunity for structure, trying recipes I have been wanting to try and not having to think about what to cook each day. Reckless abandon week gives me the opportunity to be spontaneous, creative and keep my pantry and freezer supplies in check. Mental harmony in the kitchen is my nirvana.

Wow. I just have to interrupt that train of thought to mention that it is blowing a gale outside. Crazy north wind and ever darkening sky. The kind of weather that excites the senses in a deep, primitive way. Must do some more gardening before the rain hits so I can commune with it. On a less exciting note, we have a dead tree out on the nature strip that our local council is taking far too long to remove. I suspect it may be blocking the road before the day is out.

Well it’s a couple of hours and many distractions later and gracious, the wind has really picked up. Trees are down all over and electricity is out in surrounding areas, it was out here too but only briefly. I have lost a lime tree, a callistemon, a couple of large branches and a fence. Joy. The SES is flooded with emergency calls and there is a current road weather alert that puts paid to my idea of going to the I Love Pho exhibition” in Footscray. In fact, I wonder how the Bread Winner will get home from work because I am not allowing him to ride a motor bike in this weather. Hail and thunder is predicted for later in the day which just heightens my excitement.

OK, communing with nature is done and rain is forthcoming so back to the kitchen. This week is reckless abandon week and the potatoes and basil picked this morning have inspired tonight’s meal. Fresh, tasty wholesome food that makes the body feel satisfied but not stuffed. A meal that sends vitamins and minerals tangibly coursing through your veins. Mmm, satisfying. In fact, all that basil has inspired me to submit this one to Weekend Herb Blogging which is hosted this week by Kalyn from Kalyn’s Kitchen


Thermomix Users Hot Tip: Grate the carrot first, rinse and then make the dressing. Leave thermomix unwashed and then steam the potatoes and greens to minimise washing and water wastage.

Warm vegetable salad with basil dressing salad.jpg
8 (approx.) new potatoes
2 – 3 small zucchini
1 bunch broccolini
1 banana chilli (optional)
a big handful of green beans
1/2 red capsicum
1 small carrot
1 miniature pumpkin, or slices of pumpkin
2 cups possibly borlotti beans
200g haloumi
a couple of tablespoons of flour
Dressing mayo.jpgbunch basil
2 cloves garlic
1/2 – 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons cider vinegar

To make dressing:
The dressing is a mayonnaise and can be made with whisk, food processor or thermomix. I will give thermomix instructions but the method will be the same no matter what you use.
Place basil leaves and garlic in thermomix and chop for 5 seconds on speed 6. Add egg yolks. Place butterfly in thermomix and blend on speed 4 adding oil drop by drop. When it has thickened, add vinegar drop by drop, continuing to mix on speed 4.

To make the salad:
Slice banana chilli and capsicum and set aside.
Cook borlotti beans in boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
Grate carrot and set aside (about 8 seconds at speed 6 in thermomix).
Thinly slice pumpkin and zucchini. Slicing zucchini lengthways. Char grill on both sides and set aside.
Top and tail beans and broccolini. Steam lightly.
Steam potatoes. If using a thermomix, steam the potatoes in the varoma for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size, with 1 litre of water in the jug. When there are 2 minutes remaining, add beans and broccolini.
Slice haloumi and lightly flour. Gently pan fry until golden.
Combine all vegetables and cheese in a large bowl. Drizzle dressing over top and serve.

In the spirit of Weekend Herb Blogging, thought I’d include some extra information on basil;
A Wikipedia overview
Some growing tips
Another great basil dressing recipe
A recipe for basil wine
Basil, the obvious and delicious thing to do with basil