Wait, April Bloomfield Puts What in Her Salad Dressing?

July 27, 2016

Everyone knows that to make something really good go further—a just-right peach, the last slice of Oreo pie—you have to cut it into lots of tiny pieces.

But usually there are diminishing returns with this sort of wishful thinking—not so here. In a summer-changing recipe, chef/wizard April Bloomfield goes all Mike Teavee on some perfectly good grilled vegetables and every part comes out better.

Instead of leaving the vegetables in big, striped hunks like normal, she chops them into rough bits and mixes them into a loose, garlicky vinaigrette. (Don’t worry, city folk—if you don’t have a grill, you can use a grill pan or your broiler, or even char them over a gas burner, baba ghanoush-style.)

Here, Bloomfield opts for big slabs of red onion, radicchio, and fennel, but you could do this with pretty much any combination of grilled vegetables (or, what the heck, fruit!) that you’ve got—including those classic planks of zucchini and eggplant. When you’ve got leftovers of any of the above, this is a good place to stick them.

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But why exactly does she do this? Why not just grill vegetables and wash dressing over them? Well, there’s the experiential part: “This is a chunky dressing that makes each bite of a salad taste different,” she writes. She wants to keep you surprised and engaged, ever fishing for the next sugary raisin at the bottom of the bowl of bran.

Likewise, this dressing will turn even plain greens into a complete, dynamic salad. But this also makes it a great completer for all sorts of other aimless dishes—a spoonful on steak or lamb, as she suggests, a shoveling onto crostini, or into potatoes or pasta or tuna salad.

But what I love most of all is that the vinaigrette tastes utterly new and familiar at once—like no salad dressing I’ve had, but smoky and sweet, like barbecues on the patio, like summer itself. What other happy foods should we infuse into sauces next? Toast? Kimchi? Oreo pie?

Got a genius recipe to share—from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected]. Thank you to our own Books Editor & Stylist Ali Slagle for this one.

Photos by James Ransom

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Rhonda35
  • kelly
  • Walter
  • I_Fortuna
  • PS007
I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


Rhonda35 August 6, 2016
Made this dressing last night and served it over greens and sliced grilled steak - delicious! For people who don't like the idea of the vegetable bits in the dressing, perhaps try cutting back on the amount of veggies and pureeing the ingredients? I imagine you'd end up with the same flavor but in a smooth dressing. We were pleased with this vinaigrette as is and certainly will make it again.
kelly August 2, 2016
To everyone commenting negatively- just stop. the author is writing this as a nice and innovative way to use summer veggies. do you have to be rude? no. enough.

on a different note, i used up zucchini, red onion, and red peppers for this. i skewered garlic and grilled it to take away the bite, and food processed the whole thing, adding ingredients like oil, dijon, and vinegar to taste. make it your own. this recipe is more like a fun suggestion to me.
I_Fortuna August 2, 2016
People are just lending their opinions, just like you are doing. No one has been rude or offensive.
Walter July 31, 2016
I am a active user of your site, but it is becoming apparent to me there is a desperation developing around keeping the community engaged. I doubt there is anything left to do to a salad including adding dirt (Ne Quittez Pas, in Tokyo) that hasn't already been done by any number of cooks/chefs/mothers/dads/granma's etc. since the beginning of time. Yawn!
I_Fortuna July 31, 2016
Sorry, I kept looking for the unusual and never found it. Too much oil and not enough vinegar was the only surprise.
PS007 July 31, 2016
Nobody likes biting even a small chunk of raw garlic. Solution: microplane it.
Dipcart July 31, 2016
Nobody likes tasting even a small amount of microplaned garlic. Solution: Chop it very finely.
PS007 August 1, 2016
Excellent point. You would be better chopped up in little pieces than microplaned....
Dianne July 31, 2016
Food 52 is losing audience with ridiculous pop up ads that make the site clunky and cumbersome. The soul of the site is fading fast
Armaity July 31, 2016
Dianne, it is like TV. The advertisements help keep this site free and for all the people keeping the site going, their salaries.
cynthia July 31, 2016
Sorry. I see nothing genius about Bloomfield's vinaigrette. It does utilize leftover grilled veggies and the feature article is a good one for people who aren't already doing this.
mcs3000 July 28, 2016
Kristen, you captured so beautifully why I love April Bloomfield's food = genius indeed.