A dressing can really make or break a salad and this Tomato Vinaigrette definitely makes a salad. It's light, fresh and low in calories, but best of all it is still full of flavour. Blend together some fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and balsamic and you have yourself a salad dressing that is ready in minutes.
There are SO many salad dressings on the market now, it can be easy to just pick some up at the supermarket. But, they are usually loaded with salt and sugar and can turn a salad from a light meal or side to a calorie packed one. It's so easy to make a healthy and low calorie salad dressing at home, in just a few minutes, and this Tomato Vinaigrette is one of our favourites.
What makes it so low in calories is that it is oil free. The liquid comes from the juice of the tomatoes, some water and balsamic. If you wanted a thicker dressing, then you could add some oil to it but it really isn't lacking in flavour because of it.
Why you will love it
- Oil free - Although a vinaigrette usually has oil in, we left it out to make a lighter dressing.
- Low calories - There are just 27 calories a serving so you can make a light and low calorie salad with this.
- Low in fat - Leave the oil out makes it low in fat too.
- A great way to use up ripe summer tomatoes - Got loads of tomatoes growing? This is a great way to use them to make sure that nothing goes to waste.
- No cooking needed - This is a fresh dressing, so you don't need to cook the tomatoes. That makes this a quick and easy dressing to make.
- Tomatoes - The key to this tomato vinaigrette being the best it possibly can be is to use really fresh, ripe and juicy tomatoes. This is best made in summer when tomatoes are at their best.
- Bell pepper - We use a red bell pepper and find that it adds a nice sweetness to the dressing.
- Basil - Tomatoes and basil are a perfect match and it adds so much flavour to the dressing.
- Lemon - This adds a real freshness to the dressing.
- Garlic - The more garlic the better we say. You can adjust it to suit your own tastes though.
- Balsamic - This helps to loosen the dressing up a little. Try to use the best quality you can, as you really will be able to taste the difference.
- Sun-dried tomatoes - This adds a real burst of tomato flavour to the dressing.
- Tomato puree - Also known as tomato paste.
A full ingredients list with measurements is in the recipe card below.
How to make tomato vinaigrette - step by step
One: Put all of the ingredients in the blender.
Two: Blend until smooth.
Three: Put a fine sieve over a bowl and pour in the mixture.
Four: Mash down the mixture in a sieve, letting the dressing pour through to the bowl until you are just left with pulp. Don't throw the pulp away, as it can be added to pasta sauce.
Health benefits of tomatoes
Tomatoes are super healthy. Not only are they low in calories and fat, but they are really nutritious too. Tomatoes are a good source of the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. Tomatoes are also a good source of vitamin C and K, potassium and folate.
As this tomato salad dressing is homemade, there are no additives or preservatives that you would find in store bought dressing. You get to control exactly what goes in to it, like the salt and sugar levels. If we are making it for the kids then we leave the salt out and then just season our own at the end.
Because this uses raw tomatoes and there is no cooking involved, you want to use the freshest and ripest tomatoes that you can find. This recipe is best made in the late summer months when tomatoes are at their best.
How to choose the best tomatoes
The key to this being the best tomato salad dressing, is using fresh, ripe and juicy tomatoes. There is nothing worse then an under ripe, tasteless tomatoes. So, you want to be choosing the best tomatoes possible. Firstly, these should be in season. Towards the end of summer, and in to autumn, is the best time to make this as that is when tomatoes are at their best.
Locally grown or homegrown are always the best, but if you are getting them from the supermarket then we have some tips.
You might think that squeezing the tomato is the best way to tell if it's ripe, but it isn't. Instead, hold the tomato in the palm of your hand and it should feel heavy for its size. You should also do a sniff test - ripe tomatoes should smell sweet and earthy and the stronger the tomato smells, the more ripe it is. So, resist squeezing it and ruining it.
What to serve with Tomato Vinaigrette
We think it's great with just a simple green salad, but there are lots of other uses for it too. You can mix it in to some Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche and then use it as a dip. It's great for dipping chicken in to.
We also like dipping some chunky bread in it, which makes it great for putting on the table at a dinner party whilst your guests are waiting for the main meal.
This dressing will last for about 3 days in the fridge. If you can't use it all in that time, you could always reduce the quantities and make less of it. Or, use it in other recipes like above, or even drizzled on some cooked white fish.
No, there is no need to skin the tomatoes first, or remove the seeds. If you are using a high powered blender, then this will all be well blended up. But, you can of course remove them if you like, as it really comes down to personal preference.
Yes, if you wanted a more intense tomato flavour in this dressing, then you could roast the tomatoes first. This would add a considerable amount of time on to the recipe though. But it would definitely be worth the wait. If you are going to do this, then roast the garlic too.
A salad dressing can mean anything that you dress your salad with (including a vinaigrette). However, a vinaigrette is a specific type of salad dressing that is usually oil and vinegar based. We left oil out of ours to make it lighter.
Yes, this recipe is vegan.
As long as there is no cross contamination, then this is gluten free.
More dressing recipes
- 700 g (1.5 lb) Tomatoes - ripe
- 1 Lemon - (juice only)
- 3 Garlic clove - chopped
- 1 Red bell pepper - de-seeded
- 10 g (0.5 cups) Fresh basil
- 100 ml (0.5 cups) Water
- 2 tablespoon (2 tablespoon) Balsamic vinegar
- 4 Sun-dried tomatoes
- 2 tablespoon (2 tablespoon) Tomato puree
- 1 pinch Sea salt and black pepper
- Put all of the ingredients into a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Put a fine sieve over a bowl and pour in the mixture.
- Mash down the mixture in a sieve, letting the dressing pour through to the bowl until you are just left with pulp.
- Don't throw the pulp away that is left after making the dressing. You can add this to pasta sauces.
- If you want a thicker dressing, you could replace some of the water with oil.
- Mix some of this dressing in to Greek yoghurt or creme fraiche and use it as a dip.
- We just added basil, but this dressing would be a great way to reduce waste and add any leafy herbs that you have in your fridge that need using.
- You could always add a pinch of red chilli flakes to give this dressing a spicy kick.
The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.