Bright Summer Oil-free Tomato Salad Dressing
Bright Summer Oil-free Tomato Salad Dressing is perfect for Mediterranean salads, noodle dishes, marinades, and drizzled on grilled or roasted vegetables.
Tomatoes come in so many colors and flavors, it only makes sense to not only put tomatoes in the salad, but highlight them in the dressing itself. Originally, I created this dressing for the Castelvetrano Olive, Tomato & Noodle Salad which echoes some of the same ingredients.
The Tomatoes for this Oil-free Tomato Salad Dressing
Pretty much any variety of tomato makes this dressing good. Pictured below are yellow and red grape tomatoes from the Farmers market. These red and yellow grape tomatoes were very bright, acidic, sweet and juicy which is perfect for this dressing. I have also made this dressing with many other varieties.
The only tomato type that isn’t as good is the plum style tomato, like the Roma or San Marzano. Those varieties while great cooked down for sauces, just don’t have the flavor needed for a bright salad dressing and often not juicy enough, making too thick of a consistency. The best tomatoes for this dressing are juicy with tart and sweet flavors.
The Olives for Oil-free Tomato Dressing
Green olives, specifically Castelvetrano olives, are what I use for this bright oil-free tomato salad dressing to give a little richness and touch of saltiness to this oil-free dressing. Castelvetrano olives come in a salty brine, and have a rich creamy texture that goes so well with the tomatoes when blended. Green olives, as opposed to black olives, allow the color of the dressing to stay pretty.
Some Castelvetrano olive brands have a harsh acidic taste which takes away from the fresh tomato taste. Other brands have a more subtle taste. Whichever brand you choose, the olives should be rinsed just prior to reduce the excess brine and saltiness from the jar so the bright tomato taste of the dressing shines through. For more on Castelvetrano olives see the Castelvetrano Olive, Tomato & Noodle Salad dish recipe.
For this dressing the purpose of the lemon is to add more tartness. Typically I use the juice of 2 lemons for every cup of chopped tomatoes. Depending on the acidity level of the tomatoes and the tartness of the lemons you get, you may need more or less lemon juice to get the right balance.
The raw garlic adds pungency and was surprised at how much I put in to get the flavor desired. We do like garlic! Still, some garlic is stronger than others, so as always it’s a good idea to taste after the addition of each clove. Two to four garlic cloves for each cup of chopped tomatoes is about right. I remove the germ from the garlic cloves for this dressing as with most recipes using raw garlic to avoid the bitterness. The germ is found in the center of the clove and isn’t always bitter, but if greenish in color as opposed to white, it will likely be bitter and causes an unpleasant taste in the dressing.
Tools Used in this Recipe
- Cutting Board
- Chef Knife
- pounder for garlic (or use back of knife)
- lemon squeezer
- hand (immersion) blender and blender cup
- Container for pouring and storing
- 1/2 lb tomatoes preferably from a Farmers Market, heirloom, or on the vine
- 2–4 cloves garlic outer paper removed and germ removed
- 6 green olives, preferably Castelvetrano rinsed and pitted; see note below for reduced salt method
- 4–6 tbls lemon juice juice from 2 lemons
- Gather the ingredients: tomatoes, olives, garlic and lemons.
- The small grape and cherry tomato varieties can be put in the blender cup without chopping. For larger tomatoes, rough chop them. 1/2 lb makes about 1 cup chopped.
- Remove the pit from the rinsed olives. No need to be fussy since they will be blended; a light-medium tap with a pounder (too much force can break the pit) (see photo above) or tap with back of a chef knife works great too.
- Remove the paper skin from the garlic cloves. A light tap with the pounder or the the back of a knife will release the papery skin too.
- Remove germ from the garlic clove. Cut the clove in half lengthwise and pull the germ out, it usually releases easily.
- Place the tomatoes in the blender (whole if small, chopped if larger). Add the olives, 1 or 2 garlic cloves.
- Before blending, wrap a paper towel around the top of the blender cup around the stick part so the tomatoes don't spatter out.
- Start blending with a pulsing blend (turn on a couple seconds, off, then on again). Continue blending until well-blended and pretty smooth. Taste it to see if you want more garlic or olives. Sometimes tomato pieces get caught in the blender blade dome. A light tap on the bottom or the side of the blender cup will release those pieces.If dressing is really thick, remove the blender and stir in the lemon juice with a fork to get the consistency to dress the salads, noodle dishes and drizzled on vegetables.If it is still pretty loose you can blend in the lemon juice with the blender.
- The oil-free tomato dressing is ready to dress and brighten your dishes. Pictured in the last photo above, #9, with our Castelvetrano Olive, Tomato & Noodle Salad.
- Oil-free tomato dressing will store well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Glass containers with tight fitting lid is preferred for storing.