OPINION | FRONT BURNER: Make use of scorched tomatoes with this dressing

Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

The heat and lack of rain completely zapped my backyard garden this summer. Only a handful of herbs — basil, oregano, pineapple sage and mint (which cannot be killed) — have thrived. My dill and cilantro bolted and now I'm just waiting for their seeds to ripen and release while they hang upside down in paper bags in my pantry. Of four tomato plants and two pepper plants my harvest has been a whopping single tomato and three peppers. And the pepper plants were either mislabeled at the nursery or so poorly pollinated the resulting peppers were unrecognizable from the variety listed on the tag.

Thankfully my favorite local farmers have been more successful. As often as I can, I make the drive out to their market stands and stock up on corn, melons, onions, squash, cucumbers, peaches and, of course, tomatoes.

This dressing is a great way to enjoy less-than-perfect tomatoes — whether they're overripe, underripe, thick-skinned, bruised or just a bit homely looking.

Roasting or broiling the tomatoes enhances their tomato-y flavor and loosens the skin, so that it slips right off.

Use the dressing on green salads, pasta salad, roasted meats, corn cakes, really on anything you'd like to add a pop of tomato flavor.

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Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette

  • 2 medium to large tomatoes (about 1 pound)
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • ¼ red onion
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling, divided use
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard (see note)

Heat broiler on high or heat oven to 475 degrees.

Halve the tomatoes.

Place tomatoes, cut side up, on a foil-lined broiler pan along with the garlic and red onion. Drizzle lightly with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Broil until tomato halves collapse and take on a little color. Broilers vary, but mine are usually ready in 10 to 15 minutes.

Press the tomato halves through a strainer into a bowl. Discard skins, cores and seeds. You should have roughly 1 cup of tomato juice and pulp. Transfer to a food process or blender. Squeeze the garlic from its papery husk and add it to the food processor along with the onion. Pulse mixture to combine. Add the vinegar, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, mustard and oil and process until emulsified.

Makes a very generous cup.

Note: Dijon mustard's intensity mellows after opening. If your mustard has been open for a while, use a little more; if your mustard is from a just-opened jar, use a little less.

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