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Pantry Heroes

Some of my favourite pickles, sauces, and my ultimate cheese toastie. Enjoy!

Pantry Heroes

Welcome to part six of the Lockdown Chow Down!

This recipe can be viewed as a cook along on the Culinary Cartel Instagram, by clicking here, or by viewing the “Pantry Heroes ” highlight on stories

Join me (almost) daily as we reconnect with one of life’s most simple pleasures, food!

In this edition, we covered a few staples that are always in my pantry; pickles and my favourite charred tomato salsa. We will be using both of these to build Enchiladas and some amazingly good Black Bean Chilli Nachos

Pickles are your Oscar winner in the Best Supporting Actress Category. They are super simple to make and an absolute life hack when you are trying to throw together a stress free dinner in a hurry. Lasting about two weeks in the fridge, they will instantly cut the richness of a slow braise, jazz up a grain bowl, or bring much needed colour and freshness to any salad or veggie dish.

Today we cover a red onion and a cucumber pickle, but feel free to swap these ingredients out for for trimmed green beans, red cabbage, daikon, or whole chillies.

Charred tomato salsa is also a winner on so many levels, that I will often triple the recipe below and freeze batches for “future” Jess. Comprising only five ingredients, the salsa can be spooned over meat and veg, turned into a dressing for grains, used as a dip for nachos, or watered down to form a braising liquid. It’s as versatile as it is smoky and delicious.

Wanna make my Ultimate Toastie seen in the pictures? Simply scroll to the end of the Charred Tomato Salsa post

If you try this recipe, let us know how it goes! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag your photo #theculinarycartel  and #lockdownchowdown on Instagram so we can see what you come up with. Happy cooking!

Pantry Hero

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this gluten-free?

The pickles and sauce are both gluten free! Enjoy!

Can I pickle any vegetable?

Yes! Thinly sliced carrots, bite sized cauliflower florets, trimmed green beans, thinly sliced red cabbage, daikon and chillies all make great pickles. 

Can I use my air fryer for the salsa?

My air fryer has a grill function so I have used it to make this salsa. If yours does not you can still give it a go on air fry on the highest heat setting. Be sure to get the tomatoes a little charred and adjust the cook time as needed to achieve this



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easy toastie recipe

Pantry Heroes

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  • Author: Jess Bunn
  • Total Time: 1 Hour
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Some of my favourite pickles, sauces, and my ultimate cheese toastie. Enjoy!




Makes 2 300ml Jars

  • 1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced into 1mm thick rounds
  • 1 large red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced.
  • 1 cup apple cider/white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 23 Tbsp sugar
  • 1/41/2 tsp spices and flavourings, e.g. mustard seeds, chilli flakes, bay leaf, black peppercorns, fennel tops (optional)

Charred Tomato Salsa

Makes 400-500ml

  • 4 large ripe tomatoes (or 6 Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 white onion, skin on
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 chilli
  • 1 Tbsp chopped coriander (optional but advised)
  • 1 Tbsp parsley (optional but advised)
  • salt, to taste



  1. Place the vinegar, 2 Tbsp sugar, optional spices and water into a pot, and warm the mixture over high heat until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, give the pickling liquid a taste, and add up to 1Tbsp more sugar if the liquid is too tart.
  2. Pack the sliced cucumber and sliced red onion in two separate, very clean jars. Dirty jars have the potential to spoil your pickles, so run your jars through a dishwasher cycle to be safe, or clean them well in very hot soapy water.
  3. If you want your pickled cucumbers to remain a nice bright green pour half the pickling liquid into a bowl to cool down, and once cool, pour this over the cucumber.
  4. Pour the remaining hot pickling liquid over the red onions.
  5. The vegetables should be completely submerged in both jars.
  6. The pickles can be eaten after 1 hour, but are best left overnight to mature.
  7. Place both jars in the fridge where they will keep for 2 weeks.

Charred Tomato Salsa

  1. Turn your oven to grill on the highest heat setting.
  2. Place the tomatoes, white onion (skin on) and chilli onto a baking sheet. Leaving the outer skin on, wrap the garlic clove in a double layer of foil, and add it to the tray
  3. Place the tray under the grill until the chilli has blackened on one side. The timing here will depend entirely on your oven, so keep an eye on things. Remove the chilli and garlic and return the rest of the veg to the oven.
  4. Once the onions and tomatoes are nicely charred on one side, flip them over using a pair of tongs. Cook until charred on the other side.
  5. Peel the charred skin off the onion, and cut off the root. Next, unwrap and peel the garlic. Peel the charred skins off half the tomatoes, leaving the other half with the charred skin intact.
  6. Add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, chilli and herbs to a blender, and pulse until you have a fine but slightly chunky sauce. Season the salsa to taste and store in a jar in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to three months.

Ultimate Toastie

Toasties are such a vibe. In South Africa, we even throw them on the BBQ as a starter.  If you want to create the toastie in the image above, simply layer your pickles, salsa and favourite cheese between two nice slices of sourdough. Lightly spread the outside of the bread with a thin layer of mayonnaise. This is going to help your bread get super nice and crispy on the outside and mayo achieves this much better than a layer of butter. Sourdough is my ideal bread to use here as it’s a little bit more robust than sliced white bread from the supermarket. If you can’t find sourdough or a country-style loaf simply choose any bread that isn’t very soft or delicate. Cook your toastie on the stove or over the coals on low to medium heat. Patience is key for a great toasty. I like to weigh down my toasty with an empty saucepan, to get an even toast across the base. Once deeply golden, flip and repeat on the other side. Serve immediately.

Happy Cooking x

  • Category: Pickles and Sauces
  • Method: Stovetop


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 388.95kcal
  • Sugar: 56.32g
  • Sodium: 839.05mg
  • Fat: 1.86g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.32g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 78.82g
  • Fiber: 12.66g
  • Protein: 10.77g
  • Cholesterol: 2.5mg
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