I know people are not very likely to serve salad on Thanksgiving. And if they do, it’s most likely to be your typical toss of romaine or iceberg lettuce with some cucumber, tomato, maybe some onion and shredded carrots. Pfft.
It’s okay, I get it. Thanksgiving is all about carbs and fat. Duh. (Funny enough, after I made this dish, my dad said I “forgot the potatoes”, to which I replied flatly, “…no.”)
And as much as I like to indulge in all that (assuming there’s something vegetarian for me), I still think there should be some contrast on the plate. Something light and juicy to offset the casseroles and stuffing, something fresh and tinged with herbs to complement the biscuits and butter. I think if every other dish is gonna be special on Thanksgiving, there should be a special salad, too.
Tomatoes are special. I think so anyway. Nobody knows whether to call them fruit or vegetable. They’re used in a variety of world cuisines. They’re essential to some of our favorite foods– various sandwiches, pizza, pastas, salsa, chili, curries, barbecue sauce, and I guess I have to say it… ketchup.
So here’s a little special treatment for a special… vegefruit. There, problem solved.
Herbed Roasted Tomato Salad
approximately 2 lbs tomatoes, any variety
a few cloves of garlic
fresh or dried herbs/spices of your choice (suggestions: sage, thyme, basil, rosemary, oregano, dill, etc.)
salt and pepper
I decided to splurge a bit and buy a few heirloom tomatoes since I’ve never had them. Pretty good, but I don’t think there’s any reason not to go with whatever you favor or have on hand. If I were to select cheaper varieties for this dish, I’d go with Campari, cherry, grape, or plum. The sweeter, the better.
1) Cut your tomatoes in halves and wedges. No need for precision. Pack them together in an 8×8 inch baking dish. Try to keep the skin facing up as much as possible. Peel your garlic cloves and cut them in half. Stick them randomly in between the tomatoes.
2) If using fresh herbs, chop them roughly and fit them in the same way you did with the garlic. If you’re going with dried herbs, mix them together in a small bowl and crumble them with your fingers to release their maximum yum-factor. Sprinkle evenly over the tomatoes. Follow with salt and pepper, and a generous sprinkling of olive oil to coat all the tomatoes and garlic.
As you can see, this recipe is pretty free form. As far as herbal quantity goes, just do what makes sense for you, as long as you use enough to keep all your tomatoes company. My personal blend here was anise seed, basil, marjoram, rosemary and thyme.
3) Roast these babies at 400°F for about an hour or so, until the skins are wrinkled, slightly blistered, and they smell soooo gooood. If you need to turn the oven temperature higher to accommodate another dish, no problem, they’ll survive (and cook faster, of course). I actually had to raise the temperature to 475 for something else, and my tomatoes came out lovely.
These can be served warm, but I like to let them chill so the herbs get all nice and mellow with the tomatoes and olive oil. You don’t even need extra dressing– the tomatoes, mixed with their juice, olive oil and herbs are the dressing and main component in one. They can be made a day ahead to save time. Then you just toss them with lettuce or mixed greens, maybe some walnuts or cheese, and boom. A salad worthy of the Thanksgiving spread. Or, you know, whenever.