Yesterday’s Tomatoes, Today’s Vinaigrette: A Recipe for Thrift and Tastiness

 To make a tomato vinaigrette:  Put the leftover slices of tomato – skin and seeds and all the liquid that has accumulated – in a tall jar (if you’re going to use an immersion blender), a mini food-processor or a blender, and whirr to puree.  Taste and season, as needed, with more vinegar (it’s almost a given that you’ll have to add vinegar) and, if the mix isn’t as thick as you’d like, add more oil, too.  Whirr again, so that you’ve got a smooth, shiny vinaigrette.  Depending on what else is leftover in the fridge, you can add basil, olives (if you have tapenade, add a teeny spoonful) or even a droplet of honey – sometimes a touch of sweetness in something salty and sharp is just what’s need to bring everything into balance.

There are bunches of uses for the vinaigrette.  Of course it’s good in salads and, if the salad has fresh tomatoes, so much the better.  I’m not crazy about it tossed with a green salad, but I love it tossed with steamed vegetables, with a rice salad or, in fact, with any grain salad.  And if you give the vinaigrette enough body and punch, you can use it over grilled meats and fish. 

I love, love, love it in a roasted beet salad – that’s the salad in the top picture. 

To roast beets:  Scrub them, leave the tap root and an inch or so of the green on top, put them in a roasting pan with a little water, cover the pan with foil – punch a couple of steam holes in the foil – and bake in a 425-degrees-F oven for about 1 hour, or until you can pierce them easily with a paring knife.  When the beets are cool enough to handle, peel them (a messy job) and cut into chunks.  

I tossed the beets with chunks of tomatoes and, because I had it in the house, avocado.  (I know, it sounds odd, but it was good.)  I added basil and white onions, plenty of salt and pepper and the thrifty tomato vinaigrette.

Just as I was about to call it quits, I noticed that a yellow beet had escaped roasting and so I sliced it on a mandolin (a Benriner, really) and quickly fried it.  

The salad was so good that I made it again the next day … no one complained.

Dorie Greenspan

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