DISH | tomato basil garden salad + maple balsamic dressing

summer greens, cherry tomatoes and basil salad

Why hello there stranger. It’s been almost 2 whole months since my last post and, to be quite honest, I’ve loved the time away. I really needed some time to get my head straight, to stop stressing so much over this space that’s supposed to make me happy. With a new gig serving at a busy restaurant in addition to my regular cooking classes, it’s been just the thing I needed. To be honest, busy is putting it mildly. I’ve been working a lot so those days I do have off I try to enjoy every minute of Summer. It’s a short three months here in Nova Scotia and it’ll be gone before we know it. 

There’s been berry picking trips to the Valley, plenty of patio beers, BBQing, hiking, loads of friends visiting, beaching, ice cream binging, and a whole lot of camping. It’s been nothing short of incredible. Though sadly I haven’t been cooking much this Summer since, you know, I work when everyone else is eating. Luckily, one of our garden boxes – a self watering contraption made up of scrap wood that my own personal MacGyver fashioned – is overflowing with Summer greens. There’s super peppery arugula, both red and green lettuce, kale, mesclun, and a ton of gorgeous basil. Needless to say, green salads have been dominating all our meals. 

Welcome to the Summer of salads.

Though ridiculously simple, this tomato basil salad has become our go-to. Served alongside what has become my signature dressing, a maple balsamic dressing, this is pretty much Summer in a bowl. Our tomatoes are only now starting to pop up but the market is overflowing with juicy little cherry tomatoes just asking to be paired with the season’s basil. This salad also takes on alternate personalities depending on what else is in the fridge or needs to be used up, most notably black olives, avocado or, our new fav, grilled bread. A sort of panzanella, it’s about the best way to use up stale bread ever.  This salad also plays nicely with fresh mozzarella, bocconcini, feta or even goat cheese. I’m pretty sure you can’t mess this up. I’m also all about serving salad dressing on the side. A tossed salad can become one big mess, with the heavier items inevitably getting lost in the bottom of the bowl. But do your thing and toss away if you must. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m up for anything that doesn’t involve turning on the oven in this 100% humidity. I’m already planning the next salad.

And P.S., those little white flowers? Oh, that’s arugula and they’re just as delicious as the leaves. 

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tomato basil salad + maple balsamic dressing
Serves 4
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  1. 6 cups salad greens - arugula, lettuce and kale
  2. 1 cup basil
  3. 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  4. shaved parmesan
maple balsamic dressing
  1. 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  2. 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  3. 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  4. 1/4 cup olive oil
  1. Wash and dry the salad greens as needed. If desired, roughly chop or rip apart with your hands. Chiffonade the basil (aka layer the leaves one on top of another, roll them up then thinly slice). Combine the greens, basil and tomatoes in a big bowl or platter. Top with shaved parmesan and a good dose of fresh ground black pepper and sea salt.
  2. For the dressing, whisk together all ingredients or do like we do and put it all in a mason jar and shake. Serve along side the salad.


  • August 10, 2014

    movita beaucoup

    This year, I planned to plant some herbs and lettuce. Then I forgot. I know this wasn’t the point of your post – garden confessions – but I wanted to tell someone. That’s what happens when you leave for two months. People unload on you.

    • August 10, 2014

      Kathy Jollimore

      Bring it on! We totally abandoned our garden last Summer so are trying to prove we can actually grow something. So far so good.