Thursday, June 10, 2010

Smoked Tomato Dressing with Raw Sunflower Seeds

Today I am spending a little time in the kitchen to cheer myself up. Yesterday the gray and rainy weather combined with not feeling well did a number on my food. The rain has departed but I am still not feeling 100% so I decided that a little therapeutic kitchen time was in order today.

Since the weather is nice and I have the windows open I decided to break out my indoor smoker to make a little smoked tomato salad dressing. Eating salad everyday means I need to come up with different dressings often so we don’t get bored. Smoked tomatoes make a wonderful soup so I thought why not a salad dressing. Here is what I did:

Smoked Tomato Dressing with Raw Sunflower Seeds
Makes approximately 1 ¼ cups or 20 tablespoons


½ cup wood chips (I buy the ones sold for outdoor smokers)
2 cups water to soak wood chips
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half so they will absorb more smoke flavor
1 head garlic, smashed and peeled (I used three small cloves for this dressing), save remaining garlic for future use)
1 pinch thyme, dried
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds (soaked and drained if you aren’t using a high speed blender)
1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar


Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes. When you are ready to smoke pour the wood chips and water through a paper towel lined sieve and squeeze as much water from the chops as possible.

Line your smoker with aluminum foil and place the wood chips oil the foil. Place the plan inside the smoker and add the cut tomatoes and garlic cloves. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a little dried or fresh thyme and black pepper. Cover the smoker and turn the heat on high for approximately 5 minutes which should be enough to get the chips smoking, then turn the flame to low and smoke the veggies for 25 to 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the veggies to cool inside the closed smoker to cool.

After 15 minutes move the tomatoes, pine nuts and vinegar to your blender and puree until smooth. Add garlic and clove at a time, puree and taste. Stop when the garlic intensity is right for you.

Refrigerate the salad dressing until needed.  It will thicken some as is chills.

What to do if you don’t have a smoker:

You will need a pan (preferably with a lid) and a wire rack that fits into the pan. I have used a roasted pan or a wok in the past as a make shift smoker. The wok worked better because it had a lid and I had a rack that fit into the wok. If you don’t have a rack you can use a bamboo steamer that you reserve for smoking only since it will absorb the smokiness. If you plan to use the pan for something other than a smoker place aluminum foil (a double layer) on the bottom of the pan and put the soaked chips on the center of the foil. This will keep the wood from scarring interior of the pan. Fit the rack over the chips and add the food to be smoked and cover with a lid. You want to start the pan on high to get the wood smoking, then turn the flame down so you don’t risk catching the wood on fire. I have not had that happen, but better safe than sorry. If the pan you are using doesn’t have a lid cover the top of the pan securely with aluminum foil to keep the smoke in.

Nutritional Information for 1/20th of the recipe or approximately a tablespoon:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 8.63
Calories From Fat (47%) - 4.07

Total Fat - 0.49g
Saturated Fat - 0.04g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 1.27mg
Potassium - 35.14mg
Total Carbohydrates-  0.97g
Fiber - 0.24g
Sugar - 0.03g
Protein - 0.32g


This dressing is both light in calories and flavor. The smoke is intentionally subtle so that it doesn’t obscure the fresh tomato flavor. I love dressings like this that I can use liberally without overwhelming a salad.

If you don’t want to smoke your own tomatoes and garlic you can add a ¼ teaspoon of liquid smoke (or less) or add a few smoked dried tomatoes to this dressing. I would suggest you use both of those sparingly to start.

Unrelated Note:

Last night we ended up going out to eat with our friends Walid and Jackie. It was a nice to see them since it had been a couple of months since we had gotten together. It would have been better had I felt 100% but life doesn’t always work that way. We were trying to catch up with them before they went to Egypt to visit Walid’s parents. It was a bonus that Aimee was working last night as it is always wonderful to see her as well.

Because I wasn’t feeling too hungry Dan ordered dinner on his own. Here is what he choose with a little help from Aimee:

Whole wheat pizza with asparagus, zucchini, onions, roasted red peppers, dried apricots, olives and a balsamic glaze. Dan did a good job I think. I liked the sweetness of the apricots and balsamic glaze with the veggies.

To go with the pizza he also order sugar snaps with garlic and onions.

It used to see so odd to me to have pizza without cheese when we first went vegan. Strangely it seems completely normal now and I don’t miss the cheese, which I never thought would happen I might add.

For now I want to get back into the kitchen. I am going to make some seitan sausages next using quinoa instead of bread crumbs. Since the smoker is out I thought I would smoke them after they are pressure cooked to add another layer of flavor. I will be back with that recipe later this afternoon.


  1. ive also noticed lately that when i order pizza without cheese i dont get that many strange looks. its becoming more mainstream.sorry to hear you were feeling sick, and hope that you feel better soon.

  2. Michelle,

    That is good news that pizza without cheese is becoming more mainstream, it is certainly a lot healthier.

    I am already feeling better. But I appreciate your well wishes very much. Thanks for being you! ;-)

    big hugs,

  3. Smokey tomato sounds really good! I really like the idea of a smokey tomato soup too!

    Sorry to hear you're not feeling great...hope you're better today.

    I totally agree about the pizza thing! Yaay for that up and coming paradigm shift! The pizza Dan ordered sounds/looks like a great combo.

  4. That dressing sounds perfect--light and smoky and summery :-)


  5. Rose,

    I love smoked tomato soup which is why this idea came from.

    I am starting to feel better, thanks for asking. :-)

    It is nice to see cheeseless pizza being more acceptable. Dan's pizza was good, I had a piece. It had lots of flavor and was reasonably healthy.

    talk to you later,

  6. Courtney,

    I think you will like the dressing. It is familiar yet the smoke flavor makes it just different enought to be interesting.

    talk to you later,

  7. Hope you feel better soon! The tomato dressing sounds so good. Oh, and the pizza...send some my way please ;-)

  8. Heather,

    Thanks, the smoked tomato dressing is good. I think you will like it.

    I thought of you when we were discussing the pizza last night. ;-) I wonder why that is, LOL!

    I hope you are enjoying the beach,

  9. This looks tempting!
    I really think people are ordering healthier food now. Even McDonalds offers some halfway (not really) decent options for vegans (like salad, hold everything)....

  10. Brandi,

    That is very encouraging if you are seeing changes in middle America! Thanks for sharing. ;-)

    talk to you soon,


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