Leftover Sun-Dried Tomato Oil Vinaigrette
Leftover Sun-Dried Tomato Oil Vinaigrette, a simple vinaigrette salad dressing recipe using the oil from a jar of sun-dried tomatoes. A deliciously easy way to reduce food waste!
Have you ever used up a jar of sun-dried tomatoes and then thrown out the oil it’s packed in? Don’t waste that oil! That tasty tomato-infused oil is delicious in homemade vinaigrettes and salad dressings.
Too often we throw away perfectly edible foods like oils and other liquids that foods like sun-dried tomatoes, capers, and artichokes when the fragrant juices they’re packed in are a great way to add flavor and depth to recipes.
In this food waste recovery recipe, we’ll show you how to reuse sun-dried tomato oil in a simple, yet delicious homemade vinaigrette that’s ready in 5 minutes. Let’s do it!
Leftover oil from sun dried tomato jar: The base of this salad dressing recipe is the leftover oil that sun dried tomatoes are packaged in. This flavorful oil is often thrown out, but it's a great addition to dressings, bowls, and even drizzled over pizza.
Vinegar: To make a vinaigrette you're going need vinegar (hence the name). We opted for a red wine vinegar, but white wine vinegar would also be tasty in the recipe.
Herbs: Herbs are added for more flavor, and both dried and fresh herbs will do. We combined dried basil and oregano, but thyme, sage, and even cilantro would also work.
Dijon mustard: A small amount of dijon mustard adds a tangy flavor and adds as an emulsifier in salad dressings.
Spices: Salt and pepper are added to taste, but get creative and add your own twist!
🥗 Vinaigrette formula: 3 parts oil + 1 part vinegar
The first step to making any homemade vinaigrette is to know the generally-accepted basic vinaigrette formula:
3 PARTS OIL + 1 PART VINEGAR
Once you have this formula down, you can add your extra spices, herbs, and other ingredients to your homemade dressings. We also like to add a bit of mustard as an emulsifier to our vinaigrettes to keep the oil and vinegar blended as much as possible.
🥣 How to make (step-by-step photos)
1️⃣ Step One: Strain the leftover sun dried tomato oil
The first step to making this vinaigrette using leftover sun-dried tomato oil is to remove the sun-dried tomatoes from the jar and reserve the remaining oil.
Strain the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes, or reserve the leftover oil after using the tomatoes in other recipes.
👉 NOTE ON AMOUNT OF OIL FROM SUN-DRIED TOMATO JARS: We typically buy 8 ounce (227 grams) jars of sun-dried tomatoes. This size yields about ½ cup of oil after the tomatoes are removed. However, if you’re able to buy larger jars in bulk to reduce packaging waste, increase the serving size in the recipe below for proper portions of all ingredients.
2️⃣ Step Two: Combine the ingredients
To make the vinaigrette, combine the fragrant tomato oil with a vinegar, a small amount of mustard (we like dijon in this recipe), whatever dried herbs you have on hand (we used basil and oregano), and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk or blend together until the dressing begins to thicken, and serve.
Whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients in a bowl, shake in a jar, or blend to combine ingredients.
👉 NOTE ON VINEGARS: We prefer using a white wine vinegar as it has a tangy light taste that compliments the strong oil, however we’ve also tested this recipe using red wine vinegar and it’s super tasty as well. We tried balsamic vinegar and it’s good, but does have a very strong flavor (which isn’t a bad thing if you like bold dressings!).
3️⃣ Step Three: How to make a thicker vinaigrette dressing
For a thicker sun-dried tomato dressing that’s not just oil and vinegar, there are two ways to incorporate a few sun-dried tomatoes:
- For a thin dressing with pieces of sun-dried tomato: add a few pieces of sun-dried tomatoes to a blender or food processor with the other dressing ingredients and pulse to get small chopped pieces of tomatoes throughout the dressing.
- For a thicker dressing that holds up to sturdier greens: add a pieces pieces of sun-dried tomatoes, but puree the dressing ingredients so the tomatoes are completely blended and provide a nice thickness to the dressing. This will be a better dressing on thicker salad greens like kale and chard, or as a nice coating to grain bowls, etc.
The oil on the left has 2-3 small slices of sun-dried tomato blended with the dressing for a thicker consistency, compared to the thinner dressing in the standard recipe on the right.
💡 How to serve
This homemade dressing is perfect for any type of salad green, but would be especially delicious with other Mediterranean ingredients like chickpeas, artichokes, spinach, eggplant, etc. It would also be a great dressing in Mediterranean-style bowls with grains like farro, wheat berries, or barley.
Here are a few of our favorite recipes that would be delicious with this vinaigrette:
- Simple Quinoa Greek Salad
- Roasted Cauliflower Chickpea Salad
- Harissa Black Bean Quinoa Bowl
- Black Bean Corn Farro Salad
🧊 How to store
Here's how to store this simple homemade salad dressing:
- Refrigerator storage: Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days
- Freezer storage: Freeze for up to 1-2 month, mixing well after thawing
♻️ Sustainable kitchen tips
Here are a few tips and tricks to make the most out of your vinaigrette ingredients and continue to build your sustainable kitchen skills:
Buy sun dried tomatoes in bulk: To reduce packaging waste buy sun-dried tomatoes in bulk. They store well and can be used salads, bowls, and pizzas, and the oil is edible as well. Reuse the jars for smoothies, to use at the grocery for bulk bin items, or to freeze homemade foods (I like to use the jars to freeze our Food Scrap Vegetable Broth)
Other ways to use up fragrant tomato oil: Use the aromatic oil in dressings, in pastas, or as an oil drizzle on pizzas or flatbreads.
👉 More recipes using leftovers
Love this simple food waste recovery recipe? Check out our other recipes using leftovers and food scraps, like:
- Food Scrap Vegetable Broth
- Leftover Broccoli Stem Salad
- Leftover Celery Apple Salad
- Leftover Coffee Grounds Brownies
Leftover Sun-Dried Tomato Oil Vinaigrette
- ½ cup leftover sun dried tomato oil, drained from jar
- 3 tablespoons vinegar, white wine or red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried herbs, basil, oregano, thyme
- ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
- Optional: 2-3 small slices of sun dried tomatoes, to blend for a thicker dressing
- Combine ingredients: To a medium bowl or jar, add leftover sun dried tomato oil, vinegar of choice, dijon mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Shake well to mix: Whisk or shake well until mustard is well combined and the vinaigrette starts to thicken. Test a small amount and add more salt or pepper if needed, to taste.
- For a thicker vinaigrette: Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a blender or food processor and add a few small slices of sun dried tomatoes. Pulse to chop the tomatoes for a vinaigrette with small pieces of sun dried tomatoes inside, or puree the ingredients for a thicker dressing where the tomatoes are completely blended.
- Notes: The added sun dried tomatoes are optional, but do add a bit of thickness if you’re looking for a dressing that can stand up to sturdier greens like kale and chard. Lighter greens like arugula and spinach would do well without the added sun dried tomatoes, or with pulsed/chopped tomatoes.
- Tools Needed: glass mixing bowls, whisk, food processor, or handheld blender
- Prep Ahead: This homemade vinaigrette can be made up to 2 weeks ahead of time and kept refrigerated until ready to serve. Simple shake and pour atop salads, bowls, or pizzas.
- Leftovers and Storage: Store leftovers in a glass jar or container and shake before serving. This dressing can be frozen and then thawed, if needed.
UPDATE: This recipe was originally posted in April 2020 and was updated with clearer instructions in July 2021.