Over-Ripe Tomato Vinaigrette

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
vinaigrette made with an overripe tomato

Make this tomato vinaigrette with that over-ripe tomato sitting on the counter. Here’s how to use it instead of throwing it out on the compost pile.

Years ago, my friend Anne Byrn (the Cake Mix Doctor) shared with me a pearl of wisdom from her mother.  She told Anne “you can get away with a cake mix, but always make your own frosting.”  That one bit of motherly advice certainly has been good to Anne.

I feel the same way about salad dressing. Sure you can opt for a premixed bag of Euro-greens or whatever, but please, make your own dressing. Bottled dressings taste bottled. No matter what you pay, dressing from a bottle is a dead giveaway. The flavors scream too harsh, too sour, too sweet, too dried herby, too garlic powdery, too something. The beautiful subtly of greens dressed with a balance of oil, salt, and acid is completely lost. Learning to achieve salad dressing balance is the mark of a good cook and a good cook.

Here’s our Over Ripe Tomato Vinaigrette, a fun little dressing that’s big on balance and easy to whizz up in the blender. Even better, the recipe uses one of those late summer over ripe tomatoes lying on the kitchen counter that you just can’t throw out yet. When you make a dressing, you must taste it and adjust the balance to suit your own palate. Does it need a pinch more salt or a few drops of vinegar? This all will depend on the flavor, acidity, and sweetness of your tomato. Just as creamy rich chocolate ganache coaxes out the devil in cake mix, a fresh tomato vinaigrette four-stars any old salad dumped out of a bag.  More, it is certainly worthy of delicate greens and vegetables washed and chopped by you. Our picture shows how a simple cross slice of romaine scattered with ripe tomato chunks dazzles with the dressing. You heirloomers will love Over Ripe Tomato Vinaigrette lightly spooned over a colorful platter of your finest–Tomato on Tomato.

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