Two Tomato Roma Salad with Creamy Pesto Dressing

This salad is inspired by a sandwich from one of my favorite cafes near my hometown on Long Island.

Tiger Lilly Cafe was and is something pretty foreign to suburban Long Island – it combines of a full vegetarian menu with non-vegetarian options to create a fresh produce-focused selection of sandwiches, salads and other lunch fare.

Tiger Lilly has a terrifically funky vibe, with mis-matched used furniture and local artists’ work adorning the brightly painted walls. The cafe has the feel of both California and the East Village – with good coffee and wheat grass shots readily available. Again, unusual to Long Island, but completely welcome.

I haven’t been there in a few years, but I have found myself thinking about it a lot lately. I seem to manifest my homesickness in the form of cravings for dishes, sauces and sugar-free pudding products. Luckily, I like a challenge in the kitchen.

One of my favorite sandwiches from Tiger Lilly is called the Roma, it’s made on a light french bread roll with fresh mozzarella, sliced tomato, mixed greens, and basil pesto mayo. Very simple, but the pesto mayo really brings a zing that ties it all together.

I’ve never been a mayo person, but can often be persuaded when it’s mixed with something fancy like ‘herbs’! or ‘garlic’! And pesto, well, pesto gets me nearly every time.

I decided to give our pesto mayo a makeover. I used Greek yogurt in the place of mayo and thinned out the mixture with some olive oil and a little lemon juice to create a creamy pesto salad dressing. (If you want to use this as a sandwich spread, you can probably reduce or omit the amounts of olive oil and lemon juice, depending on the consistency you would like.)

The result is a salad reminiscent of a Roma, without the uncomfortable presence of mayo. Hooray!

Creamy Pesto Dressing:
– 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
– 2 tablespoons pre-made basil pesto
– 1 tablespoon of olive oil
– 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
– 1 teaspoon water
– salt & pepper, to taste

Salad (Serves 2)
– 1 truss tomato, chopped
– 6 sun-dried tomatoes, cut into small pieces
– 2 big handfuls of arugula, or any desired green
– 2 tablespoons crumbled goat cheese

Assemble salad in a large bowl. Pour dressing on and toss vigorously to make sure all the arugula leaves are coated.

I would make this a meal with some white beans or some good-quality tinned tuna on top.