The juice of fresh, vine-ripe tomatoes is the world’s best salad dressing ingredient, with it’s combination of sweetness, acidity and umami. But it’s also amazing when just slightly cooked, enough to distill its essence but not lose its juicy goodness. Here’s a minimalist salad that uses tomatoes and their juices to deglaze the pan used to roast thinly sliced zucchini.
Trim the ends of 1 lb. of zucchini. Use a sharp knife or mandoline to cut each squash into very thin rounds, but cut on an angle so they are oval shapes about 2 inches long.
Mince 1 large clove of garlic and set aside.
Dice ripe or very ripe tomatoes (they should not be firm to the touch) on a cutting board with channels to hold the juice. Put the tomatoes and their juice into a bowl and sprinkle generously with salt. Stir to combine.
Toss the zucchini in a bowl with 1 t. salt and 2 T. olive oil. You can also add 1 T. of sprigs of hardy fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme. Empty the bowl onto a baking sheet, making sure to get all the oil and salt. Roast in the oven at 375 until the zucchini is light brown on the bottom. Add the garlic, then stir the squash with a spatula and cook another 3-5 minutes.
Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Let it cool for just a minute or two, then pour the tomatoes and their juices onto it. Use a wooden spatula to deglaze the pan completely with the tomatoes, then transfer the entire contents of the pan to a bowl. Drizzle with additional olive oil if you like.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then serve with undressed arugula as a garnish.