January 15, 2013

Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette: Keep Your New Year's Resolution All the Way to February!

I've ranted about homemade salad dressings before. Here's the short version: make salad dressing yourself. It takes ten seconds, maybe, and it's cheaper and tastier than anything store-bought.

January is all about keeping those New Year's Resolutions (get skinny, save money, work harder, stop wearing tracksuits, stop adopting cats...did I miss any?). But let's be honest: three weeks in, you're tired of that cayenne pepper and lemon juice "cleanse," and it's harder and harder to trick yourself into believing that the spinach in your breakfast smoothie tastes good.

Salads get boring. Five Guys gets tempting. But stay strong, my friends, at least until Fatty February kicks in and we all start eating deep-fried Twinkies (welcome back!) for dinner! (Just to be clear, Fatty February is followed by Manic March, in which you revert back to the cleanse and try on your bathing suit in front of the mirror every day and maybe even tape a picture of a Caribbean beach to your fridge.)


If the prospect of salad for dinner is making you feel fussy, try Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette. It's easy to make, it's delicious, and it saved me from Yet Another Boring Salad last night.

Turn on your broiler. In an oven-safe dish, coat a handful of cherry tomatoes in 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and season them with salt and pepper.

Broil them in the top third of your oven (but not directly under the heating element) until they look like this. If you listen carefully, you'll hear them screaming at you from the oven. They're telling you they're ready to take your salad to Amazingtown.

Scrape the tomatoes and their cooking oil into a blender, and add two more tablespoons of oil and two tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Blend on high for about a minute, or until the mixture is fully emulsified and the tomato skins have disappeared.

While your dressing is being pulverized into submission, assemble whatever veggies you like for your salad. Full disclosure: I always put blue cheese in my salads, and I'm not sorry about the calories. Also, the warriors on the sides of the bowl are shooting away my cheeseburger cravings. Not really.

One of the reasons people struggle to be satisfied by salads for dinner is that they offer little protein and few carbs. So add a scoop of quinoa or brown rice, or chop up some almonds and throw them in the bowl to give your salad more substance. And if you, too, are sick of the bland taste of grocery store produce in the winter, find some radish micro greens and sprinkle them on top of your salad (along with the delicious homemade dressing you just made) to add some extra bite.

This dressing is so good that I stood in the kitchen after I was done with the salad, dipping cucumbers (and then pretzels, obvs) into it. And then I might have just eaten it by the spoonful, too.

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